A former ACE-certified personal trainer, I've trained men & women of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, more strength & more fitness.
Somehow, someway, body positivity for very plus-size women has come to be associated with dressing like a – to put it discreetly – a woman who practices the world’s oldest profession.
Unfortunately, such women have become role models, even heroes, to great numbers of Instagram followers who’ve been led to believe that plus-size confidence means wearing skin-tight seductive clothes and showing a lot of bare belly.
I’d like to see one of these body-positive influencers walk straight up to the woman in this article's photos and tell HER she lacks confidence because most of her body is covered up.
“Yeah, right,” I’m sure she’d say. Then she’d point to the 315 pound barbell she just picked up and say, “Go ahead, show me YOUR confidence.”
She was only captured pulling up to 275 pounds, but trust me, she went as high as 315 (one repetition). To put this in perspective, very few men – chosen randomly from a crowded venue such as a baseball or football game, sold-out concert, jammed amusement park or the busiest of business centers – can deadlift 315.
By my estimation, this woman was morbidly obese (at least 100 pounds over a medically accepted weight), and was carrying a lot of it in her stomach. This made her lifts even more impressive, because every time she straightened, she had to also pull up her belly weight.
I don’t know if she’s a body-positive influencer on Instagram, but every time there’s media attention to a bopo influencer, she is never a powerlifter of impressive strength.
The only seriously-exercising bopo influencer I can think of with a massive following is Whitney Thore. Another bopo presence comes to mind when we speak of exercise: Jessamyn Stanley (yoga). But she also posts many images of herself suggesting that big women should strive to be sex toys.
Body Positive Message Objectifies Women
The body positive emphasis is on how much skin a morbidly obese, or even moderately overweight, woman can show in public – including at gyms.
According to bopo advocate Tess Holliday’s Instagram persona, the woman pictured in this article lacks confidence because her entire midsection is covered up.
Meanwhile, Tess aggressively promotes a correlation between body confidence and displaying a lot of skin, breasts and butt. In her gym videos she has a lot of middle showing while she’s doing box squats holding very small dumbbells.
- She’s been lauded for doing what actually amounts to warmup exercise for a typical middle-age woman.
- Tess Holliday has also been labeled as “strong” for being able to briefly hold a plank, albeit with her arms on an elevated surface.
- These are very, very low standards for fitness, especially when you consider that another morbidly obese woman freaking deadlifted 315 pounds.
When a woman can deadlift 315, I can reasonably extrapolate that she can also perform the back squat (barbell across upper back) without having to sit on a box with each squat.
Nobody deadlifts 315 without having impressive performance in other lifts as well. I’m very confident that this belly-covered woman uses notably heavy weights for her other lifts. Now THAT’s true body positivity and confidence, rather than dressing and posing like a streetwalker.
To any overweight or morbidly obese women reading this article whose self-confidence and self-worth are in shreds:
- Note that the featured woman, despite possessing notable strength, still looks very much like a woman rather than all muscled up.
- Do not assume that you need a pricey personal trainer to achieve this level of strength. For all I know, this woman has achieved it on her own and has only recently been working with a trainer.
It’s time for the body positivity movement to stop focusing on how much of a streetwalker a plus-size woman can make herself look, and instead start focusing on building a strong body.
Followers of influencers such as Tess Holliday and Anna O’Brien typically assert that fat women can be very strong. But then to support this, these followers cite examples of MALE 300-pound athletes. They rarely cite examples of their OWN feats of strength.
One of the few exceptions is a plus-size follower who said she could bench press 170 pounds. But the rest? It’s just talk – because they speak only in generalities and theory, rather than, “Visit my page; I’ve posted pics of myself lifting heavy weight.”
Heavy Barbell Lift Shows More Body Confidence than “Letting It All Show”
- For all we know, this featured powerlifter is “scared” or “afraid” to wear a swimsuit in public.
- For all we know, she refuses to wear shorts in public.
Disillusioned body-positive influencers and advocates will insist that she lacks body confidence – due to these hypothetical clothing choices. And of course, there was nothing hypothetical about her attire the day these pictures were taken. So we know with absolute certainty that this woman has at least one gym outfit that covers most of her body.
With that all said, we have to ask who REALLY has the true body positivity and confidence.
- This woman isn’t afraid of kickass work. You don’t get this strong by staying in a comfort zone.
- No fear in working in an area of a gym that’s dominated by men.
- She certainly knows how to set goals.
- Training like this requires – and enhances – self-discipline.
- Giving up is not in her vocabulary.
If these elements don’t scream real body positivity and true body confidence, I don’t know what does. Do you?