My Weight Loss Has Lured Me Back Into Toxic Diet Culture
I am on a medication that I need for a non-weight-related thing, and a side effect of that medication is decreased appetite and weight loss. I even had a baby this year, and somehow, I still ended up losing weight.
It’s not like I am on any kind of “transformation journey.” My weight loss is not evidence of a larger plan to eventually, purposefully change my fat body into a thin body.
I’ll never torture myself that way again. I have spent years fighting against all the diet culture bullshit that society forced on me. It’s all been drilled into my brain since I was a tiny little chubby girl just trying to live my life in the body nature handed me. Over the last three years, I have decided life is about more than endeavoring to be smaller constantly until I die. No thanks. I’m fat. Anyone who isn’t cool with all kinds of bodies existing in peace is not for me anymore.
BUT … and this “but” is bigger than the one on my body has ever dreamed of being …
This recent weight loss has me so damn confused. I just have so many emotions wrapped up in the size of my body. As it turns out, this change in my body’s weight and size brought on a whole flood of thoughts and feelings that I didn’t really anticipate.
And it’s weird because I am not thin. I am not suddenly trying to figure out how to exist in a thin body after years in a fat one. That confusion would be understandable.
I’m still fat by any and all standards. On some people, this amount of weight loss would take them from plus-sized to average sized, but that’s not the case for me. At all. I am still living in a fat body, shopping in the plus-size section, and experiencing the world as a fat person. There are no before and after photos to show. It’s not that kind of weight loss. Nothing for me has really changed. I’m just a different size fat person.
I am not suddenly benefiting from thin privilege. I am still subject to the rules that fat people live under as I always have. The biggest change is on the scale, where only I can see it.
I know that I am still fat, but I’m a little less fat than I used to be, and I have found a very unsettling feeling of pride in my marginally smaller body.
It turns out that I am comfortable with fat bodies. All sizes of fat bodies. I don’t feel any kind of disgust or judgment when I see a fat body in any stage of undress. Everything I’ve come to believe about the value, worth and beauty of fat bodies is totally, 100% true.
As long as that fat body isn’t mine.
Ouch. Admitting that turns my stomach. It’s embarrassing.
But I think it’s important to share the struggles. My journey toward fat positivity will never be done. I will never arrive. I will have to work and work until my last day, and that’s okay. Believe it or not, I can be fat positive and still admit that I am struggling (in this season) to apply that positivity to my own body.
I truly thought I had made peace with all of me. My round belly, my chins, my back fat, my dimply thighs. I thought I was okay with all of it. I genuinely felt at peace.
But watching the number on the scale move down, down, down this year has reignited my former obsession.
My love affair with my scale is nothing but problematic. I know nothing good is going to come of my fixation on this shiny red glass machine.
But it’s so hard to resist. My former worst enemy now feels like my very best friend.
I know I shouldn’t let it happen. I believe with all my heart that the number on that scale says absolutely nothing about my value as a human being.
I feel an irresistible compulsion to strip my clothes off every morning and see what “good news” the scale will deliver that day.
I can’t think of many times when giving into an irresistible compulsion leads anyone down a healthy road. This is not good. Why am I suddenly so starved for validation? And why am I okay with getting it from the scale of all the infuriating fucking places?!
I don’t know why. But I know that measuring weight loss — the way my body is inching closer to the cultural ideal — is making me feel good.
Just because it feels good doesn’t mean it’s healthy.
When the scale was climbing for me a few years ago, I let every single pound crush me. Every ounce I gained felt like a personal failure. My obsession with gravity’s pull on my body has never led me anywhere good. Ever. I know better.
But here I am.
Even though I’m still fat, any step toward thinness is always considered better in this diet-obsessed hellscape where we live. So, even though I know I’m not better in any sense of the word, I just feel like with this weight loss I’ve done something so “good,” which, in turn, makes me feel like my previous size was so “bad.”
And now I am afraid of gaining it back.
These feelings aren’t exactly a mystery. I know exactly why losing weight feels so significant even though so little about my life has changed.
It feels huge because for my entire life, I dreamed of this. I was desperate for something to happen that made losing weight feel easy.
I dreamed about how it might feel to shrink and shrink and shrink until I was just a tiny little woman. More than anything, I wanted to be dainty and small. To wear my husband’s t-shirts as oversize nightgowns. To be the one everyone votes to squish into the middle seat in a crowded car because I’m just so very slight.
I never dreamed of standing out as a world-class beauty. I’ve stood out too much as the largest person in every room.
I always wanted desperately to blend in as just another small woman in a world where small is considered the best thing a woman can be.
I thought I had killed that ridiculous notion, but watching weight fall off of me for the first time without herculean effort has resurrected the old dream. Lately, I find myself daydreaming, wondering if thinness might be possible for me after all.
Thinness is, and always has been, my dangling carrot. Diet culture told me to run and run and run after it. I obeyed. I spent 20 years on a relentless quest for smallness, never, ever coming close.
For the last few years, I learned how to stop chasing the carrot, step out of the lane society assigned to me, and go my own way.
How the hell did I let myself jump back into this race?
All my hard work seems to be fraying at the seams.
I wish I could tell you that I have a plan to fix this. I wish I could say I was going to put away the scale today, turn on my fat positive playlist, shake my jiggly ass, and get my head right.
But that would be a lie. I’m stuck here for now. I know I don’t have the strength to pull myself out of this vicious obsession with weight loss right away.
All I can do is keep my eyes open and keep fighting. I’ll keep on loving bodies of all sizes, and I will do my best to make sure I include my own body in that love.
Diet culture might be winning this battle, but it won’t win my war.
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