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On Jess Weiner And Why Accepting Your Body WON’T Kill You

As you may have heard by now, former body acceptance advocate Jess Weiner was interviewed by Glamour about how loving her body almost killed her.

Luckily, she learned to hate her body just in time!

Guys, Body Acceptance Kills And Stuff!

In this horrendous article, Weiner takes us down a triggery, slippery slope to show us that self love is really just a path to destruction. In fact, I hope I don’t die before I … finish … this … post ehhhhhh.

Oh, false alarm. I almost loved my body to death!

Here are just a few problems with this article. Feel free to share it with friends!

1) Conflates Body Acceptance With Not Taking Care Of Yourself

Here are Weiner’s own words: “It didn’t matter in that moment, sitting half dressed in a paper gown, how many books I had written or speeches I had given about loving your body and accepting yourself as you are. The cold, hard truth was that accepting myself as I was was putting my life in danger.”

For some reason, I don’t think body acceptance means the same thing to her as it does to me and the other body acceptance advocates that I know. To me, body acceptance is about loving your body, approving of yourself, not beating up on yourself for size, and accepting that people’s bodies come in different sizes. Body acceptance doesn’t mean totally ignoring your health. It doesn’t mean that you can’t change what you eat or start exercising more or consider a doctor’s recommendation.

What did body acceptance mean to her all along?

Weiner could have totally made lifestyle changes in a way that embraced Health At Every Size. She could have worked on nutrition to discover what worked best for her. She could have exercised more and in ways that felt right for her body. She could have explored her emotional eating issues so that she could eat in ways that were more aligned with her body’s needs. I do this every day with clients in my practice. And a key part of that is loving your body and knowing that it’s deserving of excellent treatment.

By saying that body acceptance is dangerous, Weiner not only displays a flawed understanding of what body acceptance is, she adds fuel to the fire for every fat hater and anti-obesity campaign out there.

2) Conflates Weight Loss With Health

This point may be even more mind boggling than my first point. In her story, Weiner sees a doctor and finds out that a bunch of her numbers aren’t so good. The doctor, it seems, never mentions weight loss as a goal. Weight loss is Weiner’s goal. She doesn’t get pressured into it. She makes this thing that’s about “getting healthy” into something that she’s doing for weight loss. Later in the article, she bemoans the fact that she didn’t lose as much weight as she would have liked. She says,” ‘I’ve only lost 25 pounds?’ I asked. I thought declining desserts and exercising when exhausted would have brought me a more dramatic verdict.”

What the???

This is coming from somebody who had espoused body acceptance, and had stayed away from scales for 16 years as part of her recovery from ED. And now she’s diving full speed ahead into food restriction and “exercising when exhausted” but everything’s hunky dory because she lost 25 pounds? She never addresses the real consequences of her new (old) fixation on weight loss and how that could trigger her ED.

She truly believes that she wouldn’t have gotten “healthier numbers without confronting [her] weight” even though she allegedly wasn’t on a weight loss plan, and even her doctor said that in focusing on her weight, she was focusing on the wrong number. So if this whole thing was about weight loss and not about health, why doesn’t she just come out and say that?

3) Promotes Bullying And Fat Shaming As A Good Thing

In the article, Weiner is heckled at a book reading and as a result, asks herself the question, “How healthy was I? – Was I really obese?” This may have been a true story, but it presents the idea that heckling a fat person “for her own good” is okay. It seems rather unlikely that Weiner had never thought about her health before that day.

And, furthermore, did she ever question whether she was obese or not? Obesity is based on BMI standards, which are complete crap. Plenty of people are totally healthy and obese.

Isn’t Weiner a body image expert? Why doesn’t she know this stuff?

4) Garners Sympathy By Saying That Sharing This Story May Be “Career Suicide”

As body acceptance advocate myself, this may be the part that angers me the most. Toeing the line of, “Body acceptance is good, but there should be a weight limit” got her into Glamour and she’s now making the rounds of local news programs. She knows that this message is going to get her more attention than truly embracing body acceptance could ever do. If she really thought it could be career suicide, she would have never written the article. Whatever “backlash” it’s creating will only add to her cache. (As I write this, I’m aware of that, and it bothers me.)

So, just to be clear, I’m not upset with Jess Weiner for losing weight.  That’s totally her choice.  My issue is with her decision to mis-characterize body acceptance in order to discredit it.

5) Presents Herself As A Liberator For Fat Women

This part is the absolute craziest. She really says this: “Women were more supportive than I’d ever expected, and many of them even admitted that they too wanted to lose weight to improve their health but had, like me, felt trapped by the stigma that confident, heavy women weren’t supposed to think about weight at all. Like me, they felt liberated by the idea that it wouldn’t betray their ideals to value their physical health.”

What. Is. She. Talking. About??????

As a lifelong fat woman, I never felt this stigma. In fact, I felt the opposite, that I should be constantly dieting and fixated on food and weight. Who are these fat women who are desperately trying to get out from under the stigma of having to love their fat bodies?

I’m ending it here, because it’s making me crazy. I invite you to comment by sharing this post or chatting with me on Facebook.

 

Golda Poretsky, H.H.C. is a certified holistic health counselor who specializes in empowering plus sized women to own their bodies and their beauty. Go to http://www.bodylovewellness.com/free to get your free download – Golda’s Top Ten Tips For Divine Dining!


6 replies on “On Jess Weiner And Why Accepting Your Body WON’T Kill You”

I also want to thank you for writing this! The Jezebel response to this piece bothered me a bit, because I felt it went far too easy on her. Regardless of what the author believes in real life, the opinion that this one article presented plays right into the weight = health fallacy that fashion magazines so love. It really irks me that a body acceptance activist would allow something so undermining to be published under her name, especially if she is as big a supporter of HAES as the Jezebel article claims.

Also, that pre-pre-diabetes BS kinda blew my mind. Its not enough to worry about being potentially at risk of developing diabetes anymore, now we should worry about being potentially at risk of being potentially at risk of developing diabetes! Fantastic, thanks Glamour!

Thank you for writing this. I’m really troubled by Weiner’s change of heart. I read one of her books once and it was instrumental in my starting to question my disordered relationship with my body (which is actually a bit better now that I am fat…) It’s just so disappointing that she’s leaving women she once supported in the lurch like this, but I do think she’s clearly as influenced by fat-shaming and the pressure to be thin as the rest of us. No-one is immune, but if fat-shaming was really the answer, we’d all be tiny by now.

I understand some of her sentiment, but there seems to be such a mixed message in her article. On the one hand she comments that many people are overweight and still have good “numbers” for health, which is a message I’m totally on board with. And then she’ll say that she was disappointed that she didn’t lose “enough” weight even though her health was pretty good.

I’d echo your concerns about fixation on weight loss when one has had an ED in the past as well.

I think it’s common to be afraid to admit you want to lose weight. If you show people you’re exercising/dieting/changing your habits, it’s like admitting that you don’t like how you are now, and publicly taking on a challenge that you’re afraid you might fail.

A good friend of mine is medically obese and she is the confident, fun, hilarious friend–that’s the role she’s taken on in her social group. She has some unhealthy numbers (blood sugar, I think, because that’s the same one I have to watch) so she was exercising and trying to lose some weight, but she doesn’t like to make it a focus of conversation because she doesn’t want it to seem like she thinks she’s not OK now. I think for some women who have come to accept but not actually love their size, believing (at least publicly acting like they believe) their size is great as-is is an important part of feeling OK on a day-to-day basis.

I could be articulating that wrong, but I feel the same way even though I’ve always been in the “normal” weight range. I don’t want people to think that I think I was “fat” two pants sizes ago, so when people ask about my weight loss I feel like I’m blaming all these factors I didn’t have control over, just so I can avoid saying “I felt gross.” It feels like giving someone else permission to also think I looked gross, if that makes sense. (I actually didn’t feel like I looked bad, but “I felt gross” was the example that seemed most obvious there.)

It’s like, if you say you’re trying to lose weight, you’re publicly declaring that the way you are right now is bad, and tacitly giving everyone else permission to think that too. (Even if they already did think that.)

But I agree with your takedown of the Weiner article. She’s conflating some ideas and confusing some things to make her health about weight, to pander to the magazine (I presume). The really troubling parts, to me, are her implication that fat-shaming has positive results and her implication that everyone who practices body acceptance is ignoring health. The way this was written is really irresponsible I think, and it could have potentially been an interesting conversation starter: what happens when you accept your body’s appearance, but you need to make healthy changes? Is that hard for you to reconcile, and is it hard for other people to understand? But then it took a weird left turn into Awfulville.

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