Because I am a woman, because I live in 2017, and because I interact with other women, I run across someone on a near-daily basis who is seeking affirmation for her latest weight loss, diet, or diet-pretending-to-be-a-“lifestyle change.” Perhaps a friend posts on Facebook something about how they weren’t even trying that hard this week, yet they somehow lost another 2 pounds!! Or maybe another post on Instagram proudly shares a before-and-after shot after a juice cleanse.
Scores of people will respond with laudatory comments, things like, “What are you doing?!?! Share your secrets!!” or, “Keep it up, girl! You got this!”
But I don’t. Instead, I quickly and consciously retract my itchy fingers and sit on them, lest I drift into Sanctimoniously Unsupportive Friend (SUF) mode.
Like John Coffey in The Green Mile, I’m tired. I’m so tired.
I’m tired of living in a world where women feel they are only to be celebrated when they lose a few pounds.
I’m tired of listening to women congratulate other women for subjugating themselves to a culture that is always, forever telling women to be smaller, to take up less space, and to be quieter.
I’m so endlessly friggin’ tired of celebrating what is almost always a choice to slim down made on the recommendation of (or as the result of shaming by) medical professionals … a choice that will nevertheless leave my friends LESS healthy.
I’m tired of the world telling the people I love that they are less worthy when they have an extra pound. Or twenty. Or a hundred. Or a thousand.
Frankly, friends, I don’t care what you weigh. I see your beauty, and I celebrate it.
How many times has each of us tried to lose weight? Do you know how often diets are successful in helping individuals keep off the weight long-term? Less than 5% of the time — if we’re being really, really, REALLY generous. Is that because we all lack willpower? Is it because we don’t want it bad enough? Is it because we’re inherently lazy?
No, no, no!
If losing weight required only motivation and willpower, we’d all be successful the first or second time around and move on about our lives.
Dieting or trying to lose weight for the sake of losing weight means declaring war on your body, turning off your instincts, and forcing yourself to deny the wisdom of the ages. It’s unhealthy, it creates stress, and it rarely works.
So friends, no. I will not celebrate your weight loss. I will not cheer on your latest lifestyle change. I will not join you in making bread, sugar, dairy, or any other kind of food the enemy for the sake of losing weight.
Instead, I will continue to love you for who you are way, way far away from the weight-loss efforts. I will applaud your accomplishments. I will compliment your beauty as a person. I will not applaud genetic privilege, nor will I shame the lack thereof.
Our world is hurting. So many people need our help. The issues that face us as a global community matter far, far too much to waste our time and energy on something that Does Not Matter. Your ability to help others, engage in meaningful action, and love others is not even slightly dependent upon a number on a scale.
Instead, friends, please put away the diet books, motivational Instagram accounts, shakes, cleanses, and orthorexia (an unhealthy obsession with “healthy eating”) , and instead embrace your body’s inherent wisdom. A HuffPost article reads:
At its core, food freedom actually has nothing to do with food. Instead, it’s about being in a loving, accepting, and trusting relationship with your body – and with (all parts of) your self.
Think about it. If you truly loved, accepted, and trusted your body, you would listen to her. You’d honor her cravings. You’d allow her to enjoy the act of eating. You wouldn’t cause her pain by eating too little, too much, or foods that don’t make her feel good.
Instead, you’d seek to give her pleasure by choosing foods that make her feel energized, vibrant, and alive.
To sum up, friends, I love you. Right now, just as you are. I don’t need (or want) you to risk your future health by pursuing weight loss, regardless of what “lifestyle change” wrapper you put it in. No number can represent your self-worth.
Listen to your body. It is wise beyond measure.