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I don’t know about y’all, but this girl is beyond sick and tired of the “New Year, New You” rhetoric.
The emphasis is always, always on what’s wrong with us.
“Lose weight, get whiter teeth and clear skin, quit sugar, finish your degree, make more money. Buy more stuff. Do more. Be more. But don’t be too loud. Don’t be unladylike. Don’t be pushy. Make yourself smaller. Be less.”
Who can feel sane with so many messages of judgment and standards of perfection assaulting our senses at all times?
Every year without fail, the diet industry uses January 1 as an opportunity to unleash an absolute sh*tstorm of diet culture: self-hate, resolutions, unrealistic standards, the endless advertisements and fitspiration.
Let’s talk about that weight loss goal
For the longest time, “lose weight” topped my list of resolutions year after year after year. I was always starting a diet on January 1. New year, new diet was my motto.
Then when I discovered fat acceptance and body positivity and found the wellness paradigm of Health at Every Size, three things happened:
#1: I learned about the evidence that shows that diets don’t work 95% of the time. The diet industry is a $60 billion per year industry with a 95% failure rate. The diet industry sells lies. It makes a killing from selling us a totally crappy product, and it plays on our poor self-image, which is defined by a very narrow standard of beauty. (We’re going to talk a lot more about this tomorrow)
#2: I learned that all the scientific evidence says that weight and body size are not a good indicator of health. Body size is not a diagnosis. Peer reviewed studies all show that healthy behaviors make healthy bodies in a wide range of sizes. (This means losing weight “for health” is wholly unnecessary)
#3: I did some serious self-reflection on what that “lose weight” goal really meant to me.
I discovered that a lot of my thoughts about body size had not come from a place of truth, but from society’s expectations and narrowly defined beauty standards.
You see, growing up, I’d only seen one type of person shown to me as healthy, hot, happy, desirable, or sexy. They inevitably fit a very narrow standard of beauty: thin, white, young, cisgender, female, wealthy.
This beauty standard is defined by systems of oppression: patriarchy and white supremacy.
By upholding a standard of beauty and worth that only represents a tiny fraction of humanity, those with privilege keep all the power.
I never saw folks who looked like me represented in a positive, inspiring light. If someone like me was shown on TV or in an ad, they were pathetic, a joke, chasing a man who didn’t want them, sloppy or lazy.
Fat was the worst thing you could be. It definitely wasn’t the “real me”.
I discovered that I was postponing “living my real life” until I lost weight. Until my body fit some arbitrary height/weight ratio, I had to put off the stuff I really wanted to do in life. When I asked myself why I really wanted to lose weight, I found that there were things that felt I was only allowed to do after I lost weight.
Maybe you can relate to this. Maybe you want to enjoy time at the beach, ask someone out on a date, get a promotion, travel, learn to dance, or wear a bikini.
I have great news for you: you can do all of these things without losing weight.
Combine that with the scientific evidence that we get our best chance at health by cultivating healthy habits rather than losing weight, and there’s literally no reason to postpone living out loud until your body is smaller.
Diet culture is a system of oppression based on the belief that bodies are more valuable (beautiful, desirable, worthy) when they are smaller.
Body positivity is based on the belief that all bodies are equally valuable, no matter their shape, size, age, or ability. Body positivity also says that a person’s value is not based on their body.
But what about your health?
Whenever I talk to folks about radical self-acceptance or body positivity, 9 times out of 10, the question comes up, “But what about your health?!”
If I ask this person what they mean, they’ll say something like, “If you just accept yourself and your body exactly how it is, aren’t you just giving up? What would prevent you from just being totally unhealthy and eating cake all the time?”
Well, then. Bless your heart.
I think it’s vitally important that we debunk this belief that health equals worth or that we must be healthy or “working on our health” at all times in order to deserve respect or acceptance. Let’s talk about it…
So where do we go from here?
I propose that this year, rather than resolving ourselves to systems of oppression, let’s revolt against them.
Let’s do something revolutionary and realize that worth is not dictated by age, beauty, or health.
Let’s remember that we have inherent value as human beings. We don’t deserve dignity, respect, and human rights because we are beautiful or healthy. We deserve it because we are living, breathing human beings who are all connected to one another.
See you tomorrow,
What’s next? Tomorrow, we’re going to talk more about the diet industry and diet culture, and a different way of approaching health (if health is something you want to prioritize right now) through the health and wellness paradigm of Health at Every Size.
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