Body Positivity

Facebook Called My Body Positive Message 'Offensive'

Whether or not you allow me to boost my posts, I’m going to continue getting my message out there.
10/30/2016 09:12 pm ET Updated Oct 31, 2016

On Friday, Oct. 28, I did a Facebook Live broadcast on my page. The topic was food and dieting. Specifically, I talked about the idea that losing weight is not the sole purpose of our lives ― but living at full amplitude, as the women we want to be, is.

The post in question from my Facebook fan page: Melinda Parrish, Plus Size Model
SOURCE: Facebook
The post in question from my Facebook fan page: Melinda Parrish, Plus Size Model

After I posted the video to my page, I decided to boost the post so that I could share the video with even more women. My boost was denied, on the basis that the ad was offensive, so I hopped on chat with Facebook support and asked what the issue was.

The email I ultimately got from Facebook said:

“Weight loss is a sensitive in nature topic and your Page is great we just want to be mindful when promoting Posts that we are not speaking on changes to the body that may upset or be sensitive to some users.”

SOURCE: Gmail

Interesting, Facebook. If you are stating that you do not promote content that encourages women to change their bodies, then we have a very big problem.

From here on out, I am going to report every ad I see that tells me to melt away my love handles, or erase my cellulite, or otherwise suggests my body is not good enough as it is, because THAT is offensive to me as a curvy-bodied woman.

My Facebook feed is filled with ads for diet products, plans, programs, pills, and every other imaginable type of solution that would help me change my body to become thinner. This is the “diet myth” perpetuated by virtually every weight loss brand on the planet, and we’re inundated with “before/after” images that reinforce how we’re not good enough to meet some unattainable feminine ideal until we lose weight.

Various ads for products that suggest people need to change their bodies in order to become thinner.
SOURCE: Facebook
Various ads for products that suggest people need to change their bodies in order to become thinner.

The diet myth suggests that we have to lose weight and attain a perfect body before we can live the life of our dreams. We can’t have the boyfriend, the job, or the stuff we want as the woman in the “before” image; we have to become the woman in the “after” picture before we are worthy of all that.

Somehow, Facebook, you have decided that it is acceptable to suggest that women’s bodies are not good enough as they are, and you accept what I can only assume is hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars from advertisers perpetuating this diet myth. But when I suggest that women don’t need to change their bodies, that women are good enough for the life of their dreams just as they are, you’re gonna flag that as offensive?

The goal of the video is not to bully, or shame, or badger anyone into making any changes to how they take care of their bodies, especially not ones that don’t feel loving. Not everyone is ready to accept that they don’t need to try to lose weight in order to be enough. And in some cases, medical conditions or health considerations require people to adhere to a certain diet plan, so one size definitely does not fit all when it comes to applying this principle to our lives. Actually, I specifically state that I am not attacking weight loss or healthy eating. I use the example of gastric bypass surgery to illustrate that weight loss and body positivity can coexist.

All I am positing with the video is that we don’t have to buy into the “diet myth” in order to be enough for the life of our dreams, and that in fact obsessing about weight loss can in some cases prevent us from being the women we want to be in other ways. These ideas ― that we can embrace our bodies as they are, show our bodies love through movement and healthy eating (regardless of size), and that doing so supports us in becoming the women we want to be and living at full amplitude ― are at the core of my platform, #healthyatanysize.

In my own life, I was a serial dieter for many years. But over time, and through stumbling upon content from other authors, coaches, and social influencers, I came to the realization that I didn’t need to be on a diet in order to be enough. This was a radical change in my thinking, and enacting this in my life lead to all kinds of radical changes for the better in how I was moving through the world. I haven’t lost a pound since my wedding, over two years ago (when this stuff came to a head in my life). But I’ve realized my dream of becoming a plus-size model, and now, I am doing everything I can to let other women know that it’s possible for them to transform their relationships with their bodies, too.

You can try to put a lid on my message, Facebook, but whether or not you allow me to boost my posts, I’m going to continue getting my message out there, in any way I can. Because at some point, the truth that women are enough for the life of their dreams at any size is going to overtake the idea that we need to be slaves to weight loss for our entire lives. At that point, there’s nothing Facebook or anyone else can do to stop us from living at full amplitude.

Note: Since the email to me, Facebook did ultimately approve the boosted content. Despite their email suggesting that I would need to alter my post before they would approve the boost. Which further suggests that they need to figure out what does and does not constitute offensive content when it comes to changing our bodies.

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If you’re struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorder Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.

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