My Weight does not define my Worth
We have made it so common to greet people with “you lost weight, you look great” or “you seem to have put on weight, what’s wrong?” What’s wrong is that we have normalised body shaming to such an extent that people have started hating their bodies and going through unhealthy habits to lose weight. I choose to encircle myself with body-positive and well-being at every size aligned individual. Due to this, sometimes I forget just how predominant diet-culture and fat-phobia is.
Most get-togethers or parties I go to, the topic of choice tends to be comments on people’s bodies and weight. I overhear numerous conversations congratulating others for their weight loss. I wonder how those who are unable to satisfy the beauty standards of society feel in these conversations. Left out, dejected, unfulfilled or even ashamed out of many emotions are experienced, yet they stand there listening, trying hard not to break down.
First of all, why does anyone else’s body shape, weight or look concern you at all? Instead of trying to compliment them on their looks, try to focus on their achievements, their successes in their careers or how happy they seem in their life. I am struck by how I can be among a group of determined efficacious women who have amazing careers and are raising children, yet the conversation is primarily focused on dieting and weight-related concerns. These are women who have achieved inconceivable things and yet they are choosing to focus on something so insignificant and meaningless. I do not blame them, as this is largely a cultural and societal issue.
You, as an outsider to their lives, know nothing about the person’s health, life circumstances, happiness or any reason for their weight. We live in a culture where often weight loss is perceived as “good” and weight gain is seen as “bad.” This fundamental hypothesis is intrinsically flawed in many ways. Weight loss or gain tells you nothing a person’s habits, life or happiness. The person that you are flattering for their weight loss could be suffering from a life-threatening eating disorder, cancer, depression, grief, the diet-binge cycle, intense self-hatred, or many other issues. The person that you are judging for their weight gain may be happy, healthy, in recovery from an eating disorder, finally letting go of the diet mentality. Thus showing, your comments only hurt people’s progress towards happiness – which has absolutely nothing to do with weight.
Weight related comments can be a trigger to people who have suffered with their body image for years. Coming back from a gathering with all those comments and questions running in your head, it is hard to look in the mirror and see the body everyone labelled as unhealthy and fat. Even if the person has been working hard for months to be healthier, it can be very discouraging and can cause relapses of many eating disorders or other issues. People with eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes so do not try to judge by looking at the person to see if he or she is probably suffering.
YOU DON’T KNOW THE SILENT BATTLES EVERYONE FIGHTS WITH THEMSELVES EVERY DAY.
One very common defensive comment I have heard is – “I’m just praising them on weight loss there’s nothing wrong with it” or “I’m just joking about her weight gain, she’s family anyways.” The rules apply to everyone, regardless who you are making the comment about. Despite thinking you are making the person feel better, almost 95% diet plans fail, and it will only make them feel worst when they inevitably gain the weight back. When ‘joking’ with a family member about their weight – you might try remembering that there are many others who ‘jokingly’ comment on that person’s weight and it hurts no matter who it comes from. It might be a few seconds of conversation for you but for the person on the hearing end, it has been shown to have highly detrimental effects in regards to their health and happiness.
Body image issues and diet-culture impact both men and women. However, I do think that it had initially started to keep women from feeling powerful in other areas of their lives. Diet-culture and an obsession on thinness actually rose in prominence around the time that women began to gain more political rights in the society. It was clearly started to make them feel less of themselves and centuries later, they are still succeeding.
It is sad to me that people will approach someone that they haven’t seen in a long time and the first comment that they think to make is about the individual’s weight. What if instead you asked them about their career, their passions, their achievements, their relationships, and how they are doing in general? There are so many more essential and fascinating things to focus on than a person’s weight or eating habits. By focusing on appearance and weight, you are propagating a culture where the female candidate for president is critiqued on her outfits instead of her politics. Ultimately, body policing of women is a social justice issue. You can be part of the solution and not the problem.
But the problem is not always everyone else. It can be ourselves too. Every time we criticise our bodies or hate our looks, we are doing exactly what everyone else is to our mental health. If our body isn’t the unrealistic expectation of a shape of an hourglass, a symmetrical face or a perfect nose – we start to feel uncomfortable in our own skin. Body positivity does not always mean to think you are perfect. It is to not associate your value to your appearance.
CELEBRATE YOUR BODY LIKE AN INSTRUMENT, NOT AN ORNAMENT. RUN, DANCE AND LAUGH TO YOUR HEART’S CONTENT BECAUSE YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL WHEN YOU ARE HAPPY.
Be you, be authentic and you will automatically be attractive. Try to spend less time in an appearance-oriented environment where people put value on how you look rather than your personality. And if it is difficult to that, then stand up for yourself when someone comments on your weight. You deserve respect and your body deserves it too. When you truly engage in self- acceptance and celebrate all the things your body has done for you – no one can pull you down.
There should not be this sense of morality surrounding weight. Furthermore, our bodies are meant to change throughout our lives. This is part of being a human being and nothing to be ashamed of. All bodies are good bodies because they help us see, feel, walk, live and love. But more importantly people’s worth is not based upon their weight or shape. Whether you are comparing yourself up or down, both are used as a tool to determine your self-worth and they are both futile. You are never going to win if your self- value is tied to someone else. Your values lie within YOU, your uniqueness, your own individual beauty. I don’t think there is a better representation of beauty than someone who is undaunted to be themselves.