I used to be an active part of the Body Positivity movement, and even appeared with a bunch of other Yoga practitioners and instructors in a Yoga Journal photo spread about the topic. Ten years ago, the body positivity movement was about crafting a fitness lifestyle that was not dictated by one’s body size or type.

Yoga Alabama News

I have always been into fitness and movement, but I have never been thin. In fact, my BMI would put me in the morbidly obese category. But that hasn’t stopped me from being active or eating healthy, actions for which many originators of the Body Positivity movement once advocated. Metabolic health and movement was the goal, not a certain body size. Sadly, this mentality has morphed into this ridiculousness of “loving yourself at any size” without the caveat that if you truly loved yourself, you would take care of yourself.

That latter thought was the point which 1819 News tried to convey in its piece on Sara Milliken, the National American Miss Alabama pageant winner:

An Atmore woman who won a state pageant is getting a lot of attention, but not in the way she probably hoped.

Sara Milliken worked for eight years to win the title of Miss National American Alabama. Finally, in 2024, after three attempts, she was crowned in May. She was interviewed by WKRG in Mobile and that’s when her story went viral.

People instantly began to point out the obvious – Milliken is obese.

For covering the obese person in the room, 1819 News was attacked by the Alabama Reporter for “fat shaming.”

Their dogged focus on Milliken’s weight is sadistic and cruel, revealing the horrid underbelly of the publication’s true nature. They cited WHO statistics on obesity, almost gleefully, to paint Milliken in a negative light. They failed to mention the positives of the National American Miss pageant, which promotes positive self-image and offers scholarships to young women. Instead, they decided to cyber bully a young woman who is already in the public eye, a person who has worked hard to achieve her goals despite societal pressures.

How is it being hateful to point out a) that Milliken is obese, b) that obesity has been linked to chronic disease and death, and c) that Milliken has no problem taking advantage of and conflating the National American Miss pageants with the actual Miss America pageant?

1819 News’ further wrote:

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), obesity has doubled worldwide since the 1990s, and that hasn't been helped by “Big and Beautiful” campaigns, which encourage young girls and women to stay fat. In 2017, around 4.7 million people died of obesity. It also causes chronic disease that impacts quality of life.

Despite the risks, there are still ‘body and fat-positive’ influencers on platforms such as TikTok. Several of those influencers have died.

As a Yoga instructor, one of my goals in trying to be an influencer was to get people to move at the size they are currently at, because if you don’t, there will come a time when you may not be able to move at all. What is also bypassed by this new Body Positivity movement is that ANY form of physical exercise can be beneficial and is part of celebrating one’s body — being fat in and of itself is not the celebration, but the fact that it should not limit your life, and by working to live your life in the skin you are in, you will get a healthier and happier you.

The diet industry’s focus on a number on a scale and food and weight-loss programs that have a high failure rate is the problem with any “health” push. Even so-called skinny and healthy people have noted this. Taking charge of your health and setting goals for the person you want to be long-term is what used to be the locus of the Body Positivity movement and something in which I could support and participate. But this new Body Positivity movement has been hijacked by activists and Marxists who demand validation for simply being unhealthy. Any discussion of this or pointing out that their pathway does not encourage metabolic or physical health, and you are labeled fatphobic. And sadly, young people are suffering because of it and setting themselves up for an early death.

As this young man who is taking charge of his health so aptly put it, “The original body positivity movement was being healthy.”

And he’s right. This young lady is what the Body Positivity movement used to be about, namely, working out and being active at her level of ability. The platforming of North American Miss Alabama winner Sarah Milliken is the symbol of what the Body Positivity movement has become. This will not end well.

Jennifer Oliver O'Connell, As the Girl Turns, is an investigative journalist, author, opinion analyst, and contributor to 1819 News, Redstate, and other publications. Jennifer writes on Politics and Pop Culture, with occasional detours into Reinvention, Yoga, and Food. You can read more about Jennifer's world at her As the Girl Turns website. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Telegram.

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to Commentary@1819news.com

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