This New Year I resolve to tell the diet industry to kiss my fat ass.
So, here’s the thing: I’m fat. I mean twice my “ideal weight,” shopping in the plus-sized section, fatty fat fat. And, right around this time, each and every year, the diet industry ramps up to make big cash. You can’t look anywhere without seeing advertisements, articles, and lists about how to lose weight. You can lose weight quickly! You can lose weight slowly! You can lose weight without exercise! You can lose weight and eat whatever you want! There are low-fat diets and low-sugar diets and low-carb diets. Hell, I just saw a commercial by a mattress retailer encouraging viewers to buy a new mattress for a “new you.”
It looks like anyone who can stand to make a buck for making you feel horrible about yourself, even if you’re not a certified fatty, isn’t above doing so. The temptation is understandable. Despite overwhelming evidence that weight loss diets typically do not work in the long-term and most people who undergo such diets gain all of the weight back within five years, the diet industry in the United States rakes in billions of dollars in profit each year and takes most of that cash from the hands of women.
I know this all too well. A couple of Januaries ago, I went on a “diet,” touted as a “lifestyle change” (which is a fancy, new term for a weight loss diet), in the form of my Tribe’s diabetes prevention program. While I appreciate the program and their aims, they focused too much on weight and inches lost to the detriment of looking toward health outcomes. In fact, my health outcomes did not change significantly. My average blood sugar levels stayed the same and my cholesterol actually went up even though I lost 30 lbs. Go figure. Now, I’m back at the same weight I started because, again, weight loss diets ain’t where it’s at.
With all of that in mind, here are some of my New Year’s resolutions:
1. I resolve to learn every curve, nook, and cranny on my body.
I have a full length mirror at my mom’s house and, over the years, I’ve noticed that the more I look at myself in that mirror in all my naked glory, the more comfortable I am with myself. The way my body looks has become normal to me instead of some monstrosity that needs to be covered. I’ve also recently gotten into selfies, so watch out, world!
2. I resolve to be less self-conscious about my eating habits.
I tend to be hyperaware of people silently (and not so silently) judging what I put into my mouth. While I’m long past caring enough about these judgments to alter my eating habits, they still make me feel awkward when I eat in front of others and especially thin others. This year I’d like to just enjoy my freakin’ food when I eat in public, haters be damned.
3. I resolve to wear whatever the hell I want.
Even for a lot of us body positive fatties, there’s still pressure to dress in ways that are normatively fashionable or “flatter” our particular body types. Usually when someone says to wear clothing that “accentuates” my figure, they mean, “makes you look thinner.” I’m rejecting all of that and buying those metallic gold pants I’ve always wanted, dammit.
4. I resolve to dismantle structures that uphold ableism, classism, cissexism, racism, and other oppressions for fat people who exist at the intersections of these identities.
The healthy at every size (HAES) and fatshionista movements have been wonderful for body positive fatties. But, all too often, I see us ignoring that “unhealthy” fatties, fatties who can’t afford high-end clothing, fatties without “curves,” and other fatties who live at the intersections of marginalized identities aren’t usually the fatties we center in our discussions. I, and all people, deserve to be treated with respect and dignity regardless of health status or what they wear, and our particular struggles with the diet industry and the medical industrial complex should be front and center when we talk about sizeism.
5. I resolve not to beat myself up for not being 100% body positive 100% of the time.
I have gone on a million diets over the course of my lifetime and will no doubt be tempted to go on more diets. I have bemoaned that my large size actually has limited my mobility because of the strain on my knees, ankles, and feet. Sometimes, I feel self-conscious and grotesque. Sometimes I look at other fatties and think, “I don’t want to be that fat.” Sometimes I wish I were thin. Sometimes I resent my thin friends and especially when they discuss their own body issues.
And, you know what? That doesn’t make me a terrible person. We live in a world where literally billions of dollars are made each year from making me feel less than human for being fat. So, every little thing I can do to reject that message and engage in self-love and love of others is a triumph in my book.
Here’s to 2014, self-love, and ditching the diets.