Body Positive Influencers Have Been Dying Really Young Recently—Here’s Why

The body positivity movement, initially celebrated as a beacon of women's empowerment, aimed to dismantle unrealistic beauty standards and promote inclusivity.

By Gina Florio4 min read
Pexels/Anete Lusina

The inception of this movement was originally a breath of fresh air, challenging the “heroin chic,” size 0 era that dominated runways and magazines, often glorifying unattainably slender figures and fostering unhealthy habits. This shift was a solace for many, as the societal portrayal of beauty had long been skewed toward an unrealistic thinness, leaving numerous women feeling alienated and striving for an unachievable ideal.

The movement's essence resonated deeply, especially among mothers eager for their daughters to witness a broader, more inclusive representation of female beauty. The goal was to cultivate a media landscape where young girls could see themselves reflected, fostering a healthier, more diverse perception of beauty and self-worth. However, as the movement evolved, it veered toward an extreme, equating body positivity with the acceptance and even glamorization of morbid obesity. High-profile figures and models within the movement, like Tess Holliday and Ashley Graham, represent not just a departure from the waifish models of previous eras but an oscillation to the opposite end of the spectrum. This shift has stirred controversy, suggesting that the movement's original intent to celebrate the “average” woman has been overshadowed by an emphasis on obesity.

Critics argue that this new paradigm, while well-intentioned in its pursuit of inclusivity, may inadvertently normalize health risks associated with obesity, such as heart disease and chronic illnesses. The pendulum swing from glorifying extreme thinness to endorsing obesity overlooks the vast majority who fall in between these extremes. But that hasn’t stopped the movement from growing in popularity and gaining even more momentum through figures like Lizzo, who has made lewdness and promiscuity synonymous with body positivity.

Sadly, as body positivity spreads across the internet, there are more and more influencers who have adopted the “fat positive” mindset. One TikToker in particular, who goes by @jaebaeofficial, advocates for obese individuals to be given free extra seats on an airplane. She has also recently invited people to join her at a “fat liberation” event called Fat Con.

These influencers are clearly unhealthy, and some of them even have trouble walking around a grocery store without the help of a motorized chair. Unfortunately, the lifestyle has caught up to some of the body positive activists, some of whom have suddenly died recently.

Young Body Positive Activists Are Suddenly Dying 

The poignant final messages shared by Brittany Sauer on TikTok reveal a stark and distressing reality. The influencer weighed over 400 pounds and was a big proponent of the body positive movement. She finally confessed that her binge eating, junk food addicted lifestyle was causing harm to her health. 

Only 28 years old, Brittany expressed profound regret for her choices: “I ruined my life.” Her choices led to her becoming virtually housebound for two years. She faced serious health complications, including type 2 diabetes and repeated bouts of cellulitis, resulting in a pelvic growth weighing over 30 pounds in and of itself. Simple tasks like cutting her toenails became insurmountable, leaving her gasping for breath. Despite the grim situation and fearing that her body might not recover from the damage, she clung to hope. In a desperate plea to her half-a-million followers, she warned against the perils of prioritizing food pleasure over quality of life. She died on January 2, 2023

A similar story happened with other social media figures in the “fat positive” space. For instance, @Wafffler69, known in real life as Taylor LeJeune, gained 1.9 million followers for his quirky food reviews, including aged canned meats and exotic meats. However, his journey was abruptly halted by a “presumed heart attack” at the young age of 33. 

Common-sense individuals argue that glorifying morbid obesity while downplaying the associated health risks is dangerous. 

Additionally, the “fat studies” academic Dr. Cat Pausé, who claimed there was no correlation between health and weight, passed away at 42. “The science isn't quite as clear cut as we'd like to believe, and there's not really quite a consensus yet about the relationship between weight and health,” she once said. “Obese people, and even morbidly obese people, have just as good health or better health than someone in the normal weight range.” Despite her advocacy for a “fat-positive” perspective and challenging weight-related health paradigms, her untimely death added to the growing concerns about the real impact of obesity on health.

These incidents cast a spotlight on the body positivity movement, whose central premise is that you can be healthy at any size, challenging the conventional beliefs about obesity and health. The Health At Every Size (HAES) movement emerged as a counter-narrative to the multi-billion-dollar diet industry and the stigma faced by individuals struggling with weight. HAES claims to promote embracing your body, enjoying exercise, and focusing on nutritional eating, rather than succumbing to societal pressures to conform to a certain body type. But the movement has turned into articles like “The Relentless Reality of Anti-Fatness in Fitness” from Self Magazine, which vilifies the entire industry of fitness and claims that gyms are discriminatory against obese individuals because the treadmills can’t hold more than 300 pounds.

Common-sense individuals argue that glorifying morbid obesity while downplaying the associated health risks is dangerous. Publications like Cosmo have come under fire for featuring extremely overweight models on the cover of their magazines and celebrating them for their weight and virtually nothing else. Perhaps people are fed up with the lies and are ready for a shift in the culture. 

Many People Are Fed Up with Body Positivity  

A growing number of individuals are starting to question the authenticity of the body positivity movement, especially in light of recent controversies involving high-profile figures like Lizzo. The movement, once celebrated for its message of inclusivity and self-love, is facing scrutiny due to allegations that contradict its foundational principles. The lawsuit filed by former dancers of Lizzo, accusing her and her team of a range of offenses, including weight-shaming and religious and racial harassment, has particularly sparked debate and disillusionment. The claims, which detail incidents of disparagement and coerced behavior, stand in stark contrast to the inclusive image Lizzo has previously portrayed, most notably through her "Big Grrrls" initiative.

Further adding to the controversy, filmmaker Sophia Nahli Allison stepped away from a documentary project about Lizzo, citing a toxic working environment and alleged mistreatment. Elle Baez, another artist and dancer, shared her experience with Lizzo's dance search, highlighting concerns over contract terms and potential appropriation of her creative concepts. These allegations have led some former supporters to view Lizzo in a less favorable light, tarnishing her status as a champion of body positivity.

The narrative of self-acceptance is losing its appeal as more people seek authenticity and tangible support in their health and wellness journeys. 

Critics argue that the movement, while initially grounded in empowering women to embrace their bodies, has been co-opted by figures who may not fully embody its ideals. This shift has prompted a broader examination of the industry and societal factors contributing to health and wellness issues, including the role of Big Pharma, GMO foods, and environmental toxins. Perhaps the movement's apparent decline is largely a natural consequence of the public becoming more aware of these wider health-related concerns.

The credibility of some prominent figures associated with fat acceptance has also been questioned, with accusations that they exploit vulnerable individuals for personal gain. The narrative of self-acceptance is losing its appeal as more people seek authenticity and tangible support in their health and wellness journeys. The innate human attraction to beauty, supported by neurological evidence, indicates a preference for aesthetics that resonates with our sense of well-being and truth.

Combine all of this with the tragic deaths of various body positive influencers, and we’re left asking some very important questions about the dangerous effects that body positivity has on our culture. The upside is that we’re finally turning a corner where people are willing to speak up about the obesity crisis and identify that people struggling with their health should not be spoon-fed a fake, “compassionate” message about the correlation between weight and health.

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