Genetics and Body Diversity

Every Body Is Meant To Move

A look into Movemeant Foundation’s Body-Positive Middle School Curriculum

We at the Movemeant Foundation are committed to making fitness accessible, fun and empowering - shifting the conversation from weight loss and typical beauty ideals to body positivity and supporting one another.

To support our mission, we facilitate a body-positive curriculum for middle school girls. Week #1 in our 12-week curriculum is dedicated to teaching students about genetics and body diversity. Our 45-minute session revolves around how genetics play a huge role in our body size. We also explain how internal and external stimuli may change our bodies through time. With this knowledge, we hope to encourage our youth to accept their bodies as they are, freeing them to move with joy.

With this knowledge, we hope to encourage our girls to accept and love their bodies so they can find their inner Beyonce and run the WORLD!

From her to you

If you are struggling with accepting your body shape, you are not alone. We live in a society obsessed with thinness and weight loss, and it is normal to feel like our bodies aren’t enough. In fact, it is the exact response companies want from us: to feel so inadequate we buy their products and services, in hopes that we can achieve their unrealistic standards of perfection and beauty.

We want to empower you with evidence-based knowledge  so you can start your own journey toward body positivity and joyful movement.

Join our students as they learn these topics by checking out these genetics and body diversity FAQs.

What are genes?

Genes are units of heredity; they are the basic unit by which genetic information is passed from parent to offspring. Genes are made up of DNA and are usually located on a chromosome. Think of genes like a computer program - programming our bodies to grow.

How do genetics play a role in the size of my body?

Research shows our body size is greatly attributed to inheritance. For example, one study on the BMIs (body mass index) of adult twins concluded that genetic influences on BMI are substantial. The study showed identical twins, regardless if they grew up in the same household, had nearly identical BMIs. Another study showed there was a strong relationship between the weight of adopted adults and their biological parents - and no relationship between the weight of adopted adults and their adoptive parents.

What exactly does all that mean?

Simply put: body shape and size are largely determined by our genes.

Can’t I just eat more healthily and exercise to change my body?

Consuming nutritious foods and being active help our bodies to be healthy and strong. But really, they help us stay within a range our genes say we will be.

Focusing on shrinking our body shape and size can have negative effects on our body and mind. Instead, try focusing that energy into accepting the body you have and moving in a way that makes you happy.

How might internal stimuli change my inherited body shape and size?

Internal stimuli like puberty and menopause can cause our bodies to change. Puberty causes our reproductive organs to mature, increasing the hormone estrogen. This can cause our hips to widen and our breasts to grow, and it can also give us acne and increased hair growth. Menopause is a part of the aging process, and it is characterized by a decrease in reproductive hormones. It can cause hair loss, weight gain and stiff joints.

How might external stimuli change my inherited body shape/size?

External stimuli like stress from our environment can cause the hormone cortisol to overproduce, causing weight changes.

Another external factor that can change our body shape is dieting. When one engages in restrictive behavior (dieting), they may experience a change in body size. However, research shows diets do not work in the long term.

How can I use this information in my day-to-day to empower other women?

When body dissatisfaction comes up in conversation, direct friends to this blog post and the various studies linked here. Commit to moving with joy, not punishment - and let that be an example for others. Lift up your peers and speak positively about their non-physical traits you admire. Redirect body-centered conversations. Tell your friends about our foundation and attend a fundraising event!

How can I use this information to support girls as they grow?

Reinforce the idea that our bodies are genetically predisposed to be what they are. Nonetheless, encourage them to choose activities/sports they enjoy, even if they don’t possess that activity/sport’s “typical” body type. Celebrate characteristics that are not associated with their physical traits.