I originally started this as a single post, but realized that I have way too much to say on this topic. So, we’re going for a multi-parter. Probably a trilogy; they’re popular right now. What am I saying? It’s entirely dependent on how much I enjoy this soapbox. So, without further ado…
We live and breathe weight loss. It’s on the covers (and insides) of our magazines, on the television (both in ads and shows), and scattered throughout our conversations. Just for fun, I decided to count the number of times I received a weight loss message over the course of 24 hours, and came up with 13, not counting the times I heard colleagues or friends mention losing weight—I only have so many fingers, people. And I spent nine of those hours asleep. And I’m practically a shut-in who goes directly from bed to gym to work to bed.
Weight loss conversations and messages have become such a part of our lives that we barely even hear them anymore. It’s part of the standard script; it’s background noise, vocalization that hardly has meaning except, of course, it does. We constantly hear, “oh, that would look great on me if I lost five pounds,” or, “you can drop ten pounds in 30 days,” or, “alas, I wish I could have a cookie, but I simply can’t justify it.” (I know no one really talks that way, but boy is it fun to write.)
I’m not immune to this either, and I fucking know better. So many times I join in when friends or colleagues are talking about how they need to lose weight or what they are doing to lose weight. Because it’s not just socially accepted, it’s socially expected. And occasionally I’ll catch myself staring (glaring) at the number on my scale and chastise myself for the ice cream I had last night or the burger and fries I ate for lunch three days ago, and promise that I’ll be stricter with myself because I gained three pounds.
And that’s where the prevalence of weight loss messaging becomes insidious: when it becomes internalized. Girls (and boys, but somehow girls and women seem more susceptible to this) hear countless messages about the importance of losing weight every fucking day. Maybe it’s from their peers, maybe from their mother or other family members, maybe teachers, definitely from the media; regardless, this is going to take a toll on even the strongest psyche.
The first step to battling this is being aware of it. Keep your eyes peeled, make an effort to notice those messages, and avoid contributing. It’ll be good for your health, both mental and physical.
Next up: a bunch of anecdotal evidence on why the scale is stupid.