Hey guys! The world is obsessed with weight loss. From the women who wear feeding tubes to lose 10 pounds by their wedding days; to the people who will invariably buy the new Flex Belt because Denise Richards – despite being known for not being the brightest bulb – has a ‘bangin’ body,’ and who cares about her brain when she’s hot?
I am surrounded by weight-loss-goals. It’s summer time and that translates into EXTREME BODY PANIC SEASON! (all other seasons are just known as “body panic season”).
As a blogger who was once part of the weight-loss community, I find reminders everywhere that if there is one thing all women have in common and enjoy using as an ice breaker, it’s body dissatisfaction.
What’s harder though is when friends and family are obsessed with it. The feminist HAES-proponent in me wants to shake each person and say, “focus on health! focus on achieving something meaningful in life” But the “shit, I used to be that person” hypocrite-alarm sounds and I keep my mouth shut.
The truth of the matter is: I shouldn’t keep my mouth shut.
Body panic seems innocuous because is rampant; but it’s dangerous. It is dangerous when I hear, “I just want to lose weight because I want to feel better about myself.” “Feel better” is code for “look more like the sociocultural ideal of ‘beauty.’”
I overhear this all the time; and heard it on the Real Housewives of New Jersey recently when Lauren, the chubby daughter of one of the housewives, remarked that she was tired of being fat; that she was tired of being the outcast in her family; and her mom – who was acting out of genuine love, I think – only fueled the problem by remarking that she wished she could take this problem away for her. Later, Lauren played golf with her dad and they both agreed that she got his “fat genes” and he remarked later, to the camera only, that he was glad Lauren was fat in high school because then he didn’t have to worry about guys trying to get frisky with her (DEAR LORD!). But to me, the worst part of it all was this constant remark by both Lauren and her mom that if she lost weight she would just feel better. Considering that Lauren’s dad had weight loss surgery at one point, what do you think the message is that Lauren is getting?
Put your life on hold; wait to achieve something in life; everything should be on the back-burner until you lose weight; and since we don’t care about health, but care about weight, we’ll consider drastic options like weight loss surgery even though you seem perfectly healthy. Then your life will be better.Then you will feel better.
I hate to break it you, but no matter your weight, trying to fix it still won’t fix the real problem: your mind.
If Lauren – and everyone else – really want to feel better, they’ll give up goals to look a certain way and instead treat themselves well; accept and love their bodies in all their glory, at all their stages.
It’s not people’s fault; we’re indoctrinated really early to hate our bodies or to simply want to “fix” them. And, we only get more accustomed to this by the media and by our friends and family who we bond with over weight loss goals.
But I am not going to keep my mouth shut anymore; I want to help break this “norm.” I want it to be unconventional to hate our bodies.
And, let’s face it: body panic is a feminist issue.
This past weekend, I had the pleasure of meeting the sister of one of my friends who is a therapist and who had studied the inextricable nature of weight and feminist issues. Talking with her reinvigorated me with life and reminded me how VITAL it is that we all be dissenters and shake up what has become normalized.
- Women are Sisyphus. We have been giving this boulder to push up the hill of body perfection, but we will never get to the top. Do not base your worth or how you feel about yourself on what you weigh or what you look like because you will spend a lifetime trying to “fix” something that cannot ever possibly be “perfect.” Why? Because part of capitalism & its golden children, the weight-loss & beauty industries, is to ensure that the beauty ideal is unobtainable. No matter how “close” you get, there is always something to fix. Otherwise, you would stop being a consumer and that would be dangerous for profit. Do not be a Greek tragedy!
- You already have the perfect “beach body”! Seriously! Put down the weight loss pills, the Cosmo Magazine, the Atkin’s book, the shake weight and the flex belt, your body is more than an ORNAMENT. It is an INSTRUMENT! Do something wonderful with your life; stop selling your life short!
- Call other people out on their body-hate bullshit. When Ragen wrote about the comment Ed Klein made about Hillary Clinton’s appearance, it really hit me how much work women have to do to stop being seen by other men as ‘bodies’ (not people) open for discussion. Don’t even get me started on the politician who commented on Michelle Obama’s ass. WHAT THE FUCK, PEOPLE. We have not come that far; we can’t let politicians in the public eye normalize this atrocious behavior. It starts with your circles. If someone makes a comment on someone’s body, ask them, “hey, when did you get your sheriff’s badge for body policing?” I’d give them a wink, too, but that’s because I’m snarky and smart-assy.
I have to make the distinction that I, of course, support people who want to better their health. But health is NEVER the issue when people are policing their body size or a particular feature of their body.
So, I ask you:
What will you GAIN when you stop hating your body? What will the world gain when you stop trying to “fix” your body?
We all have a lot to gain.
The Cranky One