Yesterday morning, I opened my email to find a message from a PR rep for a “weight care” program. She went on and on for multiple paragraphs about how different their plan was from a diet, swearing this was science-based and non-judgmental, taking a holistic approach to “weight care,” focusing more on improving health markers like cholesterol levels and blood pressure rather than just losing weight. Totally not your usual weight loss industry bullshit. She was just sure I would want to write about this revolutionary plan and share the miracle with my audience.
My fat girl spidey sense was tingling on overdrive due to the sheer volume of diet culture buzzwords packed into one email, but just to be sure, I clicked on the link and went through the quick health survey just to see what they would recommend for me.
Ten wasted minutes later, I found out that their “holistic, science-based, revolutionary plan” for me was prescription weight loss meds.
I felt like Miranda Priestly in “The Devil Wears Prada.”
“Florals? For Spring? Groundbreaking.”
I usually just ignore shit like this, but this time, I responded that I would not be the right choice to promote any intentional weight loss program and that her interests would best be served elsewhere.
Because honestly, I have one feeling about the weight loss industry, and it’s pretty much FUCK YOU.
ESPECIALLY right now when a huge number of Americans report some pandemic weight gain, and the weight loss industry is primed and ready to pounce. They have to recoup the losses they felt when nobody could go to meetings and hit the gym and get sucked into paying hundreds of dollars a month for supplements and foods that basically amount to a multivitamin and a calorie deficit.
Many of us gained weight because we were stuck at home, riding out a fucking deadly pandemic. We have watched almost 600,00 Americans lose their lives to a virus we didn’t know about two years ago. Our kids have been home from school or attending school in a bizarro world.
If we ate a little more, moved a little less, or found comfort and pleasure in cooking and tasting new things, SO FUCKING WHAT?!
As we return to our normal lives, many of us will see our bodies return to their pre-pandemic weights. I have been losing weight myself in the last two months because once I was fully vaccinated, I started to feel more comfortable leaving home for less-than-essential reasons. I was able to see my doctor and get back on medication for my polycystic ovarian syndrome. My body is returning to my pre-pandemic weight because I’m returning to some pre-pandemic habits.
It’s almost like weight fluctuation is FUCKING NORMAL.
Now, about that diet industry…
Now and forever, I will fully and completely repulsed by the multi-billion-dollar weight loss industry. They hide behind feel-good terms like health, wellness, and lifestyle change to convince you that your life depends on giving them money. The weight loss industry reduces health to a number on a scale, encouraging dangerous practices like starvation, exercise to the point of injury and taking handfuls of largely unregulated supplements. They create “communities” that are meant to “motivate” you to remain in their program, spending more and more money. The ratio of “success” stories to “failures” is astronomical, but the few that “succeed” are heralded as proof that their program works if you are committed enough, dedicated enough, have enough willpower.
No matter what they’re selling, they promise that it’s objectively good for everyone, no matter what your history — much better for your body than yucky, unsightly old belly fat!
The entire diet industry business model depends on making sure people feel terrible about their bodies, always accepting that they are a work in progress, aiming for an ideal that is literally impossible for most bodies.
The diet industry manipulates our emotions by using before pictures of sad, frumpy people staring blankly into the distance, stuffed into too-small athletic clothing, looking like a victim of their (usually only slightly) chunky bodies. The after photos always feature smiling, sparkly-toothed, confident people dressed to the nines, exclaiming about how happy they are now that they “look great!”
Half the time, even the “before photo” is closer to the ideal body than many average people, making us feel extra shit-tastic. “If SHE needed this program, I must REALLY need it.”
Let me be clear. I am not against DIETERS.
If you’re a die-hard fan of some kind of program, I am not against you or your desire to change your body. Like I tell my kids, YOU are the boss of your body, and you have the right to make choices about what goes into it.
I still think the people who created it and benefit financially from your weight loss are gross, though. The weight loss industry’s continued success depends on your eventual failure, and that’s a really predatory business model.
But I am fully on board for making conscientious choices about your body.
I believe fully in eating mostly nutrient dense, unprocessed foods if you can afford them because they’re delicious and good fuel. I believe it is beneficial to learn how to listen to your hunger cues, and detach foods from morality.
And I am hugely in favor of using your body for intentional, enjoyable movement, whether that means hula hooping with your niece in the driveway or pushing yourself to the limits in a CrossFit gym.
Moving feels good. Eating delicious food feels good. Feeling at home and safe in your body feels good.
I am completely and totally on board with individual human beings doing whatever they personally need to feel peaceful in their own bodies.
My feelings toward myself range from body neutral to radical fat acceptance depending on the day. Most of the time, I would describe myself as at peace with my body. I am not willing to spend my whole life actively fighting against it, and I see beauty, strength and health when I look at my perfectly-functioning body.
But I’m not always head over heels in love with the look of it, either. When the natural course of my life takes some weight off my body, I still like that feeling. I don’t feel more valuable or acceptable when my weight is lower, but I do feel a little more comfortable in my body.
It’s just that I refuse to give one red cent to any company promising me things like “holistic weight care” when what they really mean is “take this speed and call me when you’re skinny so I can sell you something else.”
No thanks. The weight loss industry can fuck right off.