No more diets
No more intentional weight loss
No more weight stigma
No more believing that I am only worthy if I am thinner
No more societal driven focus on the myth that smaller is better and that weight loss is the ultimate goal for everyone’s life and that happiness wears a size 10 (or 6 or zero or whatever).
Ok, that last one is going to be the hardest, actually the last two are going to be hard, but I have a head start on number 4 and at least it is related to me, I can probably control that more easily than I can change the whole of society.
That doesn’t mean I am not going to try though.
There are people out there who live their whole lives thinking they are not good enough because they are bigger than the arbitrary size that society deems acceptable. People are capable of amazing things, brilliant singing, feats of strength, genius level science or engineering, amazing art, or acting or acrobatics, or dance, but if they are bigger than expected, this will nearly always overshadow their brilliance. This lack of strict adherence to societies perceived norm seems to give the whole world licence to comment and criticize and make a whole load of assumptions based on the most superficial of observations. People make huge sweeping statements about health without knowing anything about people’s actual health. People comment on people’s fitness based solely on looks, I mean you can be actually running an ultra marathon, but if you are not “standard” marathon runner size, people feel they have the right to tell you you can’t be fit or healthy enough to run an ultra-marathon!
A larger body makes people believe they have the right to judge everything you do, everything you eat and everything you wear.
This has to stop.
It is time that weight loss stopped being the highest achievement in a woman’s life (and a man’s but less emphasis is put on men in this).
It is time that fitness is detached from weight loss altogether.
Fitness is not determined by weight.
It is time that gyms and personal trainers and fitness professionals in general stopped selling weight loss as a goal, actually its time they stop selling it as the only goal.
It needs to be possible, normal, even to walk into a gym and not have people assume your goal is weight loss. Gyms and trainers should not even mention weight loss, not to anyone. No matter what size or shape they are when they walk into they gym.
Gyms and trainers need to stop weighing people as part of their induction.
Gyms need to stop selling transformation challenges or plans or what ever that measure success on purely weight or fat loss.
Gyms need to start encouraging real fitness goals. strength gains or speed or ability to walk up stairs faster or whatever is appropriate for the individual. This is true even if the person asks for weight loss goals. They need to be encouraged to find other measurable factors that concentrate on ability rather than a random function of the body which is far more difficult to control than all of the “fitness” professionals and diet companies would have you believe. Keeping it off is even harder, weight loss is not a natural thing for a body to do.
Fitness and life in general free from weight stigma and constant pressure to lose weight is an incredibly liberating thing. It allows you to eat a biscuit without having to justify it to yourself, let alone other people. It allows you to concentrate all the energy you would have been using worrying about weight on something else. In my case, getting strong enough to pull a truck!
The problem with this, is it is extremely hard to achieve. Society is set up to praise thinness. It equates thinness with health, even in the face of evidence to the contrary. There is a multi million pound industry build around the concept that thinner = better and it is set up to make you feel bad if you are not buying in to it. It is everywhere, TV adverts sell diet plans and weight loss plans and clubs that promote weekly public shaming (weighing in) and the path to a better life through thinness. These companies sell you a lifestyle where, according to them, following their “simple” rules will lead you into everlasting happiness and health. Unfortunately the reality of this just is not true. The plans work for weight loss, of course they do, they rely on a very low calorie intake which does lead to weight loss, especially at the start of a plan. The problem is they do not promote healthy eating patterns or healthy relationships with foods. They cause people to obsess about eating the right things which leads to the branding of foods as good and bad. As Bernard the bad biscuit will tell you, there is no such thing as bad food. One of these organisations even labels some foods as “syns” which tells you all you need to know about the food guilt culture associated with these industries. the main problem with these organisations is that they are industries, if they really wanted to promote happiness and confidence, they would go out of business. They rely on everyone returning again and again with decreased levels of self esteem because they have been made to believe that they are not good enough to even follow these simple plans!
Society and the diet industry are set up to make you feel bad and inadequate. It is a method of control, mostly control of women. Yes I know this is aimed at men too, but the vast majority of these adverts and programmes are subtly (or not so subtly) aimed at women. It is in adverts, it is in the media, it is everywhere, the idea that to be the best version of you you need to be the thinnest. This applies to the books selling you their “this is not a diet its a way of life” plan. This is the same thing dressed in different language.
I write this at a time when the government has just launched an initiative to “tackle obesity” it is a campaign that equates weight and health without considering other factors. It is a campaign that has a lot of aspects that as far as I can tell are going to increase weight stigma, increase judgement and guilt and feed directly into the thin at all costs mentality that is already prevalent in society. There is so much to say about this that I am going to write another post about it! Suffice it to say for now that the government has (as seems to be its habit) executed an idea in a way that distracts from other factors but will be ultimately damaging.
I am not naive enough to think that there are no problems associated with weight in some people. I am however, prepared to say that for many / most people weight is not the only factor that is contributing to health issues and it is not enough to say to these people, lose weight and your life will be better.
So this is me declaring that I am not falling for it any more.
I am not on a diet
I am not intentionally losing weight
I am not playing this game any more!
More than that, I will challenge people’s assumptions wherever I see them. Assumptions about me and about other people. Assumptions, judgements, casual fatphobic statements, I will challenge every single one!
Everyone has the right to live their life without arbitrary judgement.
Everyone has the right to eat food without guilt and the need to justify it to others.
Everyone has the right to walk/work/shop/live without having to face people who think it is ok to comment on food or health or anything based solely on assumptions.
No one has to be on a diet for most of their life.
No one has to exercise to make their existence valid
No one has the right to make someone else feel bad based on their own internalised fatphobia. (yes, that is what you are doing if you stand with a fatter person saying “oh I feel so fat” or “I am putting on weight its so awful”)
So watch out fat-shamers, fatphobics, judgers and self righteous dieters …I am coming for you!