“You want to lose weight?? But why? You’re not fat!”
I’m fairly certain people are trying to be nice when they say this, but to me it feels dismissive and vaguely shame-y. I can’t show my excitement about my newly rediscovered love of the gym and the magic that is my reemerging abs (they’re still under there! OMG!!) without being shot down.
Everyone knows that fat shaming and skinny shaming are totally unacceptable. But how is shaming someone for wanting to modify their body shape—or feel a little more fit—any different? Why does this feel like the only remaining acceptable way to shame someone about their body?
Why can’t I want to change my body shape without someone telling me I shouldn’t? Why can’t I decide to exercise a certain amount and eat more healthfully without feeling judged? Do I have to surrender my body positivity card if I am not perfectly happy with my curves as they are?
On the contrary.
Just as much as anyone else is a fucking badass for looking in the mirror and loving every centimeter reflected back at them, I am a badass for saying, “Cool, but I really want to see my triceps poking out from under my skin, and I’m not there yet.”
I want to lose weight, but I don’t want to just lose fat, I also want to add muscle. I want to be strong. I’ve already lost 15 pounds and am curling and squatting much heavier than when I started exercising regularly in the Spring. This after a year of gaining pure fat because I took a little too much of that “life is short, eat the cake” advice at the same time my job had me spending more and more hours melding my ass to a chair.
I told myself I didn’t mind that my ass was swelling larger by the week. I told myself to embrace my new curves. I told myself I should love every inch of me, my new womanly dimples, my rounder face, my butt that no longer fit into my favorite jeans.
I am keeping my feminist card, dammit, but I am telling you—I did not feel good 25 pounds heavier. I felt—and literally was—heavier, weighted down, tired, slow, weak. I’ve always been an athlete, always been strong, always up and moving and going, going, going. When I feel like I’m in peak physical condition, I feel really, really good. Mentally, physically, emotionally. I feel like myself.
And I’d lost that. 15 pounds ago, no one would have looked at me and said I was fat, but I didn’t like how I looked. I really didn’t like how I felt—tired and slow and winded. My body didn’t feel like mine anymore.
And yes, I do happen to think I look better at a specific weight. I’m not apologizing for this, because the key word is that I think I look better. I would never impose my standards on anyone else—in fact, I think curves are sexy AF, and confidence on any body shape is the absolute sexiest. I’m also not trying to lose weight to impress anyone else or attract anyone’s attention, though even if I was, it’s still not anybody’s damn business as long as I’m not harming myself.
I’m doing this for me. I’m losing weight, changing the composition of my body, for me. I like when I look in the mirror and see myself as having a runner’s body. I like feeling like I am not wasting what’s left of my youth by being sedentary. When I feel athletic, I also feel more self-confident and outgoing. I am a happier version of me.
So please, if a friend whose body you perceive to be perfectly adequate mentions they are trying to lose weight or get in better shape, don’t badger or harass them as to why. Simply offer your encouragement. Offer to hit the gym with them, or, if you’re not into that, let them know that, on their cheat days, you’re in charge of providing the cupcakes.