Compare and contrast

Hands up who’s seen something like this on social media:

compare

The text reads “Malala Yousafzai & Kylie Jenner. Both turned 18 recently. One was given a Ferrari and spent thousands on facial modification. The other was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize, survived a gun shot to the face by the Taliban due to corruption in her country, and opened a school for Syrian refugees to combat the lack of education for youth around the world.”

So many problems with this. Let’s go with holding up two people we know very little about to be judged on their worthiness. Because that’s what it’s saying: “Look at how amazing this one woman is, and what exactly is the other one for?”

Comparison is not fair in any case, but comparing Kylie to Malala is just mean.  I’ve had nearly a decade longer on the planet and I’ve not managed even a fraction of that impressive list of achievements. Pretty much everybody fails when compared to Malala Yousafzai.

Luckily for me, this is not high school; there are no grades for writing compare and contrast essays. There is no list of worthiness that ranks people according to what they have contributed to humanity.

Yes, the world would be better if everyone was so willing to help the helpless, but it’s not a requirement for being considered worthy as a person. I will never win a Nobel Peace Prize, but I am still enough.

You might not like Kylie Jenner’s actions or choices (because of course we judge her instead of questioning a society which places so much value on outward appearance that an 18-year-old would pay to change her face) but she is a human being, and therefore worthy of respect. She is enough.

I love Malala’s work because it’s spreading this idea that everyone is equally worthy. Everyone deserves the chance to be educated because they are all enough. And guess what? Even before all these wonderful things, she was also enough.

Everyone is amazing. Yes, everyone. It’s beyond time to realise that, to stop dragging certain people down in order to make others seem higher, and just appreciate every person for who they are.

Can we just stop with the comparisons already?

I’ll be over here, glorifying obesity.

Anyone who has spent any time around body positive spaces will be familiar with the phrase ‘glorifying obesity’. As in ‘you should hate everything about your body and I get to bully you into that, because not doing so is glorifying obesity’.

It was eye-roll-worthy the first time I saw it, has not become any less eye-roll-worthy since then, and is now starting to make me cross. Ah who am I kidding, I’m blogging about it – I’m absolutely raging.

So here are just some of the many issues I have with this argument:

1.I am not obese, so how does loving my body glorify obesity?

In fact, scratch that. How does anyone loving their body glorify anything aside from the aforementioned body?

That’s like me saying “I really love this cake I made.” and some troll running up screaming, “Stop glorifying diabetes!!”.

Except that diabetes is a real thing, and not a made-up label for a made-up category on a made-up scale that assumes all humans have the exact same body composition (spoiler: we don’t).

I don’t see my body as the blueprint for the entire human race. If I love my brown hair, that doesn’t mean I’m holding up brown hair as the paragon of beauty and telling every non-brunette that they must dye their hair immediately so it looks like mine. I just really love the colour of my hair.

Body positivity is not declaring that this body is the best kind of body so everybody should try to look like this, it’s not saying ‘this is perfection’, or ‘this is the only right way to be’. It’s deciding that I have already wasted far too much of my life and energy on hating the only body I will ever have, with absolutely no positive results.

2. Nobody has any idea what ‘obese’ actually is.

Because the BMI scale assumes all humans have the exact same body composition (spoiler: we don’t), it can give some inaccurate results if we try to use it as a measure of health.

Back when I used to measure these things, I started strength training for the first time ever. Over a few months my muscles got bigger, my body fat got smaller, and I felt fitter and healthier. But my weight, and therefore my BMI, went up. Dem muscles be heavy.

According to the Being Massively Inaccurate scale my new, healthy behaviours juuuust tipped me into the ‘obese’ category, so I should  immediately contact my doctor to discuss weight loss strategies before I die of obeseness.

Oh, and guess which of these people are classed as overweight or obese according to the Blatantly Made-up Information scale:

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Tom Cruise

Michael Jordan

Sylvester Stallone

George Clooney

 

Answer: all of them.

Dunno about you, but I’d glorify the heck out of that obesity.

Around 10% of results from the scale are incorrect, which doesn’t sound like a lot until you consider that, just in the UK, that means around 6.4 million people get the wrong label.

In 1998 the ranges were lowered, so you had to be a lower weight to fit into the same category you were in the day before they changed it. And now, ignoring all the studies showing that people in the ‘overweight’ category are generally quite a bit healthier than those in the ‘normal’ or ‘underweight’ category, there’s talk of lowering the ranges again.

In conclusion, nobody has any idea what ‘obese’ actually looks like or really is, so how can it be glorified?

3. We’ve been glorifying thinness for ages. It’s obesity’s turn.

Except nobody knows what obesity is, so let’s say it’s fat’s turn to be glorified. And why not?

Fat is not inherently unhealthy; there are fit and healthy fat people (hi there!) as well as unfit and unhealthy thin people.

Most people only believe thin looks better because we’ve been brainwashed for generations to think that. If we glorified fat then people would believe fat looks better.

Fat is not expensive. I suggest reading Ragen Chastain’s danceswithfat blog for many, many explanations of how the But Muh Tax Dollarz! argument is just yet another cover-up for bigotry and bullying.

OR here’s a radical suggestion: how about we stop glorifying any body type/shape/colour/gender, get rid of fat-shaming, skinny-shaming, body policing, racism, sexism, ableism, judgement, and all forms of bullying, and just accept that everyone is an incredibly complex and awesome human being as they are?

Eh, I can dream.

And while I’m dreaming, I’m going to continue sharing and liking body positive stuff every chance I get. If that’s glorifying obesity then fine – I’ll just be over here, pointing out the gloriousness of obesity.