TW: mentions of dieting, fat-phobia, ‘fat’.
Congratulations! If you ever wonder why you feel stuck in this vicious cycle of gaining and losing weight, it’s probably because you are. But don’t worry, it’s not entirely your fault. We live in a culture that tells us that ‘fat’, in all respects, is ugly and undesirable. We have “supersize me”–really the epitome of America–being shoved down our throats, and on the other hand the newest diet, cutest exercise outfits, best weight loss pills, habits of self-shaming, everyone should have a treadmill, eating disorder culture, screaming at us in the face.
I recently read a moving article on Everyday Feminism entitled, “My Friends Would Rather Have Their Guts Cut Open Than Be Like Me” (here). America is so intolerant of fatness. We are a fat-phobic country. So much so that we constantly bombard women with their need to lose weight: in women’s magazines, the fashion industry, music and media, clothes sizes in stores, and separate stores for the “plus-size” woman. We encourage women to get surgery because a small body is better than an “ugly body“. We count calories and monitor carb intake, and we believe that if we “cut part of our stomachs off” we will be better off, happier, or more liked. We obsess over skinniness to the point that the value we place on the perfect number on the scale surpasses the value of who we are as people, women.
Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not neglecting the fact that being overweight or even obese can and does have serious health implications for women. And yes eating healthier and exercising regularly may be the best solution for that.
Here’s the problem:
- The American culture has created sedentary lifestyles, clogged with processed foods, making it easy not only for women to gain (unnecessary) weight, but also for us to police and shame women for their increasing weight gain.
- The diet and weigh loss industry makes billions every year. More often than not, diets, pills and supplements don’t work. In fact, they usually cause women to gain more weight. We are the only country with an induced obesity epidemic. America has created it’s own “Fat Economy“…bravo ‘Merica! Oh, but don’t worry, we’ve got a pill for that! Would you like a side of pilates for an hour, topped with thirty minutes of hardcore running with that? While we’re at it we’ll change our children’s school lunches so that they can lose weight too while eating broccoli and salad instead of chicken sandwiches.
We need to:
- Stop insulting women for their weight. We’ve all done it. The glancing eyes. the silent but evident thoughts of disgust of their size or the amount of food they are eating or drinking. Our secret diagnosis of their condition.
- Support women in getting and living healthy if they choose to take those steps. Women don’t need to be shamed into exercising and eating right. Curves and hips are just a beautiful as no butts and flat stomachs.
- Get rid of the “fat economy”. America needs to stop super-sizing it’s people just to make money off them. If there are fat people, great. If there are skinny people, great.
- Make a move away from the microwave, processed food economy and invest in a more natural fresh, farm to table economy.
- Recognize the inherent value that people have, rather than abusing them to sustain the economy.