PCOS & The Body Love Blog

PCOS BlogI came across The Body Love Blog a couple of weeks ago when a bikini photo of a young woman named Stella Boonshoft went viral. The picture was posted with the caption: “WARNING: Picture might be considered obscene because subject is not thin. And we all know that only skinny people can show their stomachs and celebrate themselves.” I was so impressed with Stella’s strength and confidence that I started reading her blog… only to find out she also happens to have PCOS. I was inspired by her story because I have worked with so many young women who struggle with body image and self esteem. Although girls and women of all shapes and sizes have PCOS, most are overweight and many tend to carry extra weight in their middle. Many girls with PCOS also have to deal with unpleasant problems such as acne and unwanted body and facial hair. Having good body image can be really hard for girls as it is, and PCOS can make it that much harder. Stella’s pictures got a lot of positive feedback from people like me who know that it’s important to love and respect your body-no matter what size it is. However, she also got a lot of criticism from people who are quick to judge and laugh at people who are overweight. In response to some of the negative feedback, Stella posted some great comments that I wanted to share with you:

I am working on being the healthiest I can be. I am in NO way encouraging unhealthy behaviors. All I am saying is that not everyone is built the same, not everyone who is healthy is thin, and not everyone who is thin is healthy. I don’t think that telling people that no matter what they look like, they are worthy of respect, is somehow encouraging being unhealthy. I think what IS unhealthy is our attitude towards health and weight in this country. Anorexia KILLS PEOPLE EVERY DAY. Bullying KILLS PEOPLE EVERY DAY. It’s clear that shaming people into losing weight doesn’t work. We need to have new attitudes on health, weight, and eating in order for our generation to live happy, full, healthy lives.

Not only are her comments empowering, they are actually true. Many people assume that people who are overweight should not like their bodies; they think that having bad body image will somehow motivate someone to improve her habits and lose weight. It turns out, that’s not how things really work!

In a research study I published earlier this year in the International Journal of Obesity, I discovered that overweight teen girls who feel better about their bodies are actually LESS likely to gain unhealthy weight or start binge eating than overweight girls who don’t like their bodies. This study is one of a number of research studies that show that having low self esteem and poor body image is bad for your health. My PCOS prescription for you: work on loving yourself and appreciating your body.

Thanks, Stella, and love your body, girls.

-Dietitian Kendrin