Body Shaming, and the Secret to Effective Weight Loss
It’s the weekend. I’m supposed to be relaxing. And yet it would appear that things like this, and this, and this happen to me on weekends. And today, it seems, is no exception. So I’m just going to get right on in there and commence my rant. Let’s do this.
I am ridiculously tired of people being fat shamed “for their own good.” I am over it. I am sick to the back teeth of watching women looking miserable in their underwear on a white background while they’re led through a list of their own flaws. And I was utterly amazed to catch part of a show called Fat Families this morning wherein a douchebag presenter got two overweight women to strip down to their skivvies so he could zoom in on their imperfections with a tiny camera and force them to look at it on a big screen.
That’s in between voiceovers, I should add, where he describes them as “chubsters” and “lardies.” And it’s just before this lovely bit where he declares that a woman’s tearful response of “God, yes it’s awful. I feel sick. That is just absolutely disgusting. My legs! I look like a great big fat sumo wrestler. Honestly, I didn’t know I looked like that” to a photo of herself in her knickers to be “just the reaction I wanted.”
Stay classy, asshat.
My response, then, is this:
That’s me. I’m imperfect. Even after losing 140lbs, my body is flawed and scarred and definitely not acceptable for public viewing. It’s not “perfect” enough to put on the front of a magazine in a bikini, and it’s not “fat” enough to fit into the other socially acceptable vision of the woman in pants – the kind looking despondently at her own “ugly” self.
For every stereotype, it’s wrong – and I really do not care.
Further to that, I would like to raise the following point:
See that? That’s my stomach. Belly. Tum.
I am 99% sure had I been on that show, he’d have probably spontaneously combusted at the idea that you can love something that “utterly disgusting.” I mean, eww. It’s got stretch marks and saggy skin.
But y’know what?
I am not ashamed of that. Not even a tiny little bit. It’s my damn body and I love it. And that’s why I’m putting it out there.
I tried to take more photos of my imperfections to further prove this point, but I realised two things in the process. Firstly, that it is incredibly difficult to take a photo of your own butt, and secondly, that I am proud of pretty much all of it. I’m the buddha of body confidence these days. What might be imperfections to some are just me, to me, because I’m not buying into all this shaming crap.
I am done with that.
And that’s why I’m here in my pants. Again. This is my imperfect ‘after’ shot, not airbrushed to show the product of weight loss is perfection; rather, purposefully not airbrushed to show that the product of weight loss, for me in particular, was learning to love the imperfections instead.
Because that’s the secret.
It’s not shaming people “for their own good” or to “help them” to improve their health. It’s not making them guilt-starve for a bit, in between begrudgingly stomping on the treadmill as a punishment for their failures as people whilst surrounded by images of their “ugly” naked bodies.
In fact, that’s a situation in which they’re set up for defeat – because the second they “cheat,” they’ve failed not only as people (for getting fat in the first place) but also as dieters. Which means they’ll probably return to the source of the problem, and comfort eat their way back to where they started. And even if they do succeed in losing the weight, they’ll get there with a boost in self-confidence as a result of losing the weight – but a whole bunch of negative associations around their own body, and everything that’s “wrong” with it. Their body image is still tied up in the idea of being thin, perfect, and probably a certain number on the scales. You know how mad that sh*t makes me.
I have a problem with this kind of body shaming – the kind that takes the moral high ground because it’s for the benefit of the “chubsters” (I still cannot believe that, by the way) – because it creates a kind of disconnect between you and your body that means you’re starting out in a state of tension. When you declare “I hate my body,” even among friends – or when you let some asshat with a camera force you into a pit of self-loathing and despair – you’re setting up your mind and your booty as separate things. This doesn’t do you any good.
In fact, this is why, over the last year, I’ve talked a lot about weight loss, granted – but also about snarking, and body image, and positive thinking. These things are all totally, inextricably linked. Because the big secret to weight loss is getting over your flaws, and learning to love them. When you can look at your body with positive eyes, it’s a lot easier to eat the right foods, and exercise, and do all the other things you have to do to lose weight. It just makes sense, because you like your body, and you want it to function as well as possible. Simple.
But so we’re clear – there’s a very strong possibility you’ll never be perfect in the media sense. Unless you’re going to give up your day job and make looking good your career – which, let’s face it, is the case for most celebrities – or until someone invents Photoshop Goggles, you’re never going to look like anyone on the front of a magazine. Even if you lose weight, there will still be things that would be chopped off or rubbed out by the evil eye of the Cosmo/Glamour/Trash artistic director – because you’re not going to be perfect.
And that is absolutely fine. You’re awesome, and when you realise that, you’ll be happier – no matter what size you are. So let’s stop fat shaming. Let’s stop body shaming. In fact, let’s just stop shaming full stop.
Unless it’s towards the guy on Fat Families.