As part of an ongoing series, Yahoo Canada is profiling personal experiences and opinions in open letters. This letter profiles Emma Medeiros, president of plus-size fashion PR company Medeiros Fashion. She’s often accused of promoting obesity and she wants to clear up the confusion between that and true body positivity. For more from the series, click here. As told to Nisean Lorde.
Unless you live under a rock, you probably hear the phrases “body positivity” or “body acceptance” on a daily basis. In the past few years, there has been a great shift in society that encourages acceptance of differences in other people, whether they be in religion, politics, race, disability, sexual preference, sexual identity, or size.
I’m the president of the first public relations firm in the U.S. that specializes in the plus-size fashion industry. Unfortunately, while working diligently to gain exposure for my plus-size designers, models, photographers, retailers, etc., I often get accused of “promoting obesity,” and I’d like to clear up the confusion between that and true body positivity.
First, I don’t think anyone can honestly argue with the fact that obesity is unhealthy. From a medical standpoint, it causes all sorts of problems. While, yes, overweight people can be active, the fact that our bodies are carrying more weight than they need is not good.
Keep in mind, of course, that the definition of “overweight” is entirely dependent on the individual. At 5’ 10”, I towered over every boy in my class until they finally caught up with me in my senior year of high school. My German ancestry has gifted me with hips that could likely bear an entire army of children, and breasts that could feed said army singlehandedly (single-breastedly?) — and all of this before I was overweight.
Therefore in my case, my perfectly healthy weight, recommended by my doctor, is between 180 and 200 — a number that would be dangerously high on my very petite, small-boned friend of Celtic ancestry.
There are also many reasons for people to be overweight: side effects of medication, glandular or hormonal imbalances, and, obviously, poor diet and exercise choices. Whatever the cause, what I do promote is that people, overweight or not, should be able to dress to feel good about themselves.
Way too many designers and retailers are still under the misconception that all plus-size people are trying to lose weight and therefore do not want to spend money on clothes until they finish losing weight, which is 1,000 percent untrue!
If I drape myself in a shapeless muumuu, I will feel depressed and even bigger, so I may as well go to Ben & Jerry’s and pig out on 10 pints of ice cream (mmm, Peanut Butter Cup … focus, Emma!).
If I’m wearing flattering clothes that make me feel like a million bucks, though, I’m going to want to exercise and eat better to keep that amazing feeling. And any plus-size woman will tell you that quality trumps quantity every time, and we will gladly sacrifice in other areas of our budget to shell out for outfits that fit us to a T!
We do not want pity. We do not want judgement. We do not want to “skinny-shame” smaller people. Body positivity is not about overweight people giving up on trying to be healthy; it’s about making peace with your body no matter what size it is.
Change cannot happen without acceptance.
Read more from Yahoo Style + Beauty:
- Solange posts unflattering pic that she calls her ‘favorite’ selfie
- The very cool reason this white T-shirt is going viral
- The key to the perfect fitting room is isn’t just about ‘skinny mirrors’