Body positivity has taught us that we don't have to be thin to be healthy, but some body positive activists also want to teach us another lesson: You don't have to be healthy to be happy — or deserving of respectful, judgement-free treatment. While many of us would like to improve our health, good health isn't in the cards for everyone, and it's nobody's right to police someone else's health. That's why blogger Michelle Elman believes we can do unintentional harm by using two particular phrases: "Wishing you a happy and healthy baby!" and "We don't mind if we have a boy or girl, as long as my baby's healthy."
The truth is, some babies are not born healthy. Elman's one of them. On Instagram, she posted a baby photo and a current photo of herself, both labeled "happy not healthy," The Huffington Post reports.
"That's all parents dream of, right? Happy and healthy," she wrote. "Well ,that's unfortunately not what my parents got. Instead, they got a child that needed 15 surgeries to reach adulthood. They got a baby that had a condition that threatens her life and lowers her life expectancy. And that used to break my heart. Every time someone would say this in front of me, I used to wonder if my parents were disappointed when I was born. OF COURSE THEY WEREN'T. (My parents are amazing!) But each time I was hospitalized, I would see the pain their eyes and wonder if their life would be easier without me."
She used to feel guilty whenever she struggled with health issues because she knew her parents were suffering too, she explained. But talking about these feelings and sharing them through her #ScarredNotScared campaign has helped her see that her pain and the pain it may cause others aren't her fault.
"No, my parents didn't get 'happy and healthy,'" she wrote. "But they definitely got happy. Enough happy to overcompensate for the lack of healthy. And enough wisdom to know there is nothing to compensate for."