It is no secret that most women in the US have serious emotional issues around their weight and their size. We are bombarded by media images of stick thin models and movie stars, we hear our mothers talk about their disappointment with their own weight, perhaps we were even told directly by parents, sports coaches, or doctors that we needed to lose weight for one reason or another. We are subjected to fitness tests and body fat percentage tests in our public schools, and we are taught over and over again in so many ways that our weight and our size determine how much we are valued by our communites and our loved ones. Most of us are not taught about nutrition, quality of ingredients, how to grow or prepare delicious whole foods, or most importantly, how to tune into our own intuition about what our body needs. Some thin women still think they are too large, or may alternatively feel shame or embarrassment about being thin. I have yet to have a conversation about weight and body image with anyone who had no experience struggling with their own. So this message is for everyone, because it affects everyone. This has GOT TO STOP. This is completely insane, disordered, and is taking away our time, energy and power as amazing, radiant, beautiful human beings.
The cultural component is also connected to the way the medical world implicates weight in just about every health issue, as well as the completely bogus weight gain recommendations given to pregnant women. All of these things come together to make women incredibly insecure, afraid, and frankly, unhealthy during their pregnancies. The medical world doesn’t think that diet or nutrition really have much to do with pregnancy outcomes, but we know that is completely incorrect. The ramifications of undereating during pregnancy are infinitely more dire than what may happen from eating “too much” of the nourishing whole foods that I hope for every pregnant person to have access to. This is not to say that being thin or having a low BMI (BMI should really stand for Bad Misleading Information) is “bad” either. This is about reconceptualizing what healthy means, what it does not mean, and what it can look like.
What I’m saying is this:
You are not a number of pounds, you are not meat to be weighed, you are not a BMI. You are a unique human whose daily nourishment practices are much more important to your health than the mainstream’s oversimplified, ignorant ideas about a number on a scale. Health does not come in one shape or size, and you are the only who can ultimately determine if you are feeling vibrant and healthy. If you are NOT feeling vibrant and healthy, it likely has little to do with your weight, and instead has everything to do with the way you are nourishing yourself (or not) daily – this includes nourishing the body through food and movement, nourishing our emotional selves with friendship, community and self-reflection, and nourishing our spirituality however that may look for us.
So friends, lets say goodbye to this extreme moralism around weight, weight gain, weight loss, and body size, and the consequent emotional, spiritual, cultural dis-ease around food, nutrition, and nourishing ourselves. Let’s step away from the scale and return our energy to tending the myriad aspects of ACTUAL good health. Let’s help each other stop this cycle. Talk openly with friends, family and co-workers about how you are no longer participating in this garbage. Don’t allow your friends, sisters, mothers or daughters to talk negatively about themselves. Find other ways of complimenting each other beyond telling them people they look good, and NEVER comment on another person’s weight, either “positively” or “negatively”. Practice seeing others for who they are, their many talents, and their unique spirit – then practice seeing yourself this way. It takes a lot of work, but we can shift the way we think and feel about weight as individuals and as a culture. Let’s do this together.