August 30, 2020 by Cláudia
People around me (family, friends and strangers) started to overwhelm me with comments about my weight gain, something I had never experienced before. It became very clear to me that it made them uncomfortable that I was happier and more confident in a bigger body.
At that point, I finally understood that fatphobia has nothing to do with health and everything to do with societal norms. Here I am, feeling much better and proud of my progress, yet people constantly comment on my weight as if I was better before. Before, when I was too anxious to hold down food, couldn’t sleep and didn’t do any exercise. Now I am calmer and happier and my body is stronger and healthier. Yet, no one compliments my body anymore. Instead everyone that knew me before comments that I am fatter. As if that is inherently a terrible shameful thing.
My own experience with weight gain has lead me to look at the wider context of diet culture and fat phobia, realizing it is both all around me and within me.
Diet culture is the generalized beauty standard that equates thinness with beauty and moral values such as hard-work, integrity and moral superiority. This worship of thinness leads to unhealthy body image and hypervigilant behaviours regarding one’s weight.
It also leads to entitlement to police other people’s weight and food choices in the name of health. Since in our society there is a hierarchy in body types, people feel allowed and even compelled to interfere in this extremely personal area – what food each one puts inside their body.
Diet culture makes people feel free to comment on someone’s body and nutritional choices “for their own good”. Diet culture makes people think it is natural to go for weeks only drinking herbal tea and lemon juice but unnatural to have a bigger body that is strong and healthy. Diet culture makes employers chose the skinnier applicant for a job. It aggravates eating disorders and negative self-image.
I do not want to contribute to this toxic, self-hating and misogynistic culture. So here is my anti-diet culture manifesto. These are both external and internal actions that I will implement in order to diminish diet culture’s influence on me and the ones that surround me:
1. Thin does not equate good just as fat does not equate bad. I will work hard within myself to dismantle this thought system and truly understand that all body types are valid.
2. Fat shaming is unacceptable, racist, ableist and misogynistic. I will not accept it when I witness it and will speak up. I will also challenge my own thoughts and instincts if I find myself falling into diet culture narratives.
3. Diet culture is extremely damaging to everyone’s self-image. I will start to politely ask friends and family to not comment on my weigh gain or weight loss unless I asked them. I will also never comment on someone else’s weight loss or gain unless it was solicited. I will work internally to divorce weight from any judgement so that I will not have the impulse to comment on someone’s weight.
4. Our worth is not dictated by a number on a scale. Say it with me: Our worth is not dictated by a number on a scale. I will never weigh myself again. I will be proud of my body for what it is and let go of weight goals and weight stats (even though I really love statistics).
Weight is just a small part of who we are and certainly not the most important one. Just imagine what we could achieve collectively if we weren’t spending so much time and energy trying to lose weight that we didn’t even need to lose in the first place. Let’s work to feel comfortable in our own bodies. And to uplift others to feel comfortable in their own bodies.
Our bodies are amazing. Powerful. They carry us everyday. Whenever I am feeling anxious about my body I take a deep breath and say to myself:
My body is strong. My body is healthy. No one needs to love my body other than me.
- Christy Harrison, Why I’m an Anti-Diet Dietitian – And What That Really Means
- Christy Harrison, What is Diet Culture?
- The Diabolical Dietitian, What is Diet Culture and How Do We Defeat It?
- Resources on how diet culture is racist, by Shelby @fit.flexible.fluid