To the time of the year when resolutions are started on with great gusto. Losing weight and clean eating are one of the most common ones made ever year. Cue eye roll…
It is alarming how exceptionally well the diet industry is thriving, despite an increased awareness of the perils of diet culture. Everywhere we turn, we are bombarded by advertisements or newfound regime, or before and after pictures to start the new year in order to celebrate success stories from the past year and to reaffirm their resolve to stick to diet plans in the new year. It’s diet culture affirmation season.
Fatphobia is prevalent all year round but there are some particular seasons the fear of fat is at its highest. The beginning of a new year is one such season.
Not too long ago – hell it was only 6 years ago – I was one of those who got suckered into these resolutions because of the guilt from enjoying myself heartily over the holidays. Every year started the same way: lose weight, reach goal weight and fit into clothing I have been keeping far too long in the wardrobe because of this need to feel like a success story.
You see, until the day I decided to put on my boxing gloves to fight my weighty demons, I had gone through countless yo-yo cycles of bingeing, purging and about 11 goal weight finish lines. I could never maintain the goal weights, because those weight loss regimes were so tiring on my body and they took over every single part of my existence.
By the time I ended that 11th weight loss regime, I was so frustrated and so Done but I just couldn’t give in to the other fact – that if I did not keep up with these regimes, I would be fat and there was no joy in that. Even though the fact that I was not happy losing the weight so many times, was staring me in the face.
Fast forward to Aarti in 2018.
Did I have a hearty holiday season, enjoying food and drinks? I sure did. Did my mind start telling me to get ready to lose weight from Jan 1 2018? It did not. Did it cross my mind? It crossed my mind as a warning to the years spent struggling with enjoying a meal, berating myself for having rest days because I was unwell, cursing that I had food cravings when it was pms season.
6 years of exorcising diet culture from my life has taught me so much. The books, articles I have read that give me strength and have helped me stay the course of the one regime i Want to live up to: the regime of bashing beauty standards, flipping the finger at diet culture and understanding with more depth why this speaks of patriarchy.
There is so much more educating to be done. When your husband who loves you immensely doesn’t understand why every single doctor’s recommendation for bariatric surgery offends and upsets you, there is work to be done. When you hear straight sized young girls moaning about having lunch and needing to work it off for 2 hours in the gym, there is work to be done. When men think fat women are ‘easy’ to pick up because they must be so desperate for the male gaze. When online trolls feel it is their civic duty to shame a plus sized person, and then a skinny person because neither of them fit their idea body. When people are trying to incorporate weight loss as a part of body positivity, because they need to lose the weight but still want to be part of the movement. When thickness is celebrated but fatness is remonstrated.
There is work to be done.
My plus sized body and I are here to challenge your ideals of what is socially acceptable. My ideals are here to challenge your notions of how a woman should be. My advocacy, strength and vulnerability are here to show you that there is no one right way to live a fulfilled life.
This is Curves Become Her in 2018. Proud to be me. Always learning and unlearning. Navigating life with its twists and turns. Professing solidarity as a woman of colour. As an intersectional feminist.
So what can you do if you are simply fed up with the online ads and billboards in your hometown that support this idea that losing weight is the new beginning to a new you?
1. Protest in your own way
Report an ad that you don’t like online. Screenshot it and talk about why this upsets you. Get like-minded folks to do the same. Comment on the ad and let your opinion be known even if you are moving against the majority. Tag your favourite body positive accounts and movements, let them know about it. Educate and engage in discourse but do not engage in bullying or being bullied. Remember that every small deed that is done contributing against diet culture, makes a difference. That goes for any movement that you are interested in.
There are a few movements world-wide last year that took the world by storm because of the immense support behind it. Body Positivity needs that support more than ever, especially because marginalised voices are not being heard and the media and societally stereotypically acceptable spokespeople are churning the same old, same old doctrines that frankly benefit them more than anyone else.
Women of colour, people with disabilities, people with auto immune health conditions, folks who live with chronic pain, those who do not fit into accepted- stereotypical body types, the lgbtqia community, people who are 45 and older .. diversity is a very nuanced essential part of our communities and movements that still does not get discussed enough.
To summarise: body positivity is necessary to get diet culture to loosen its grasp on us, and diversity is a necessary aspect of the movement to ensure nobody gets left behind.
2. Take a social media break or unfollow accounts
There is absolutely nothing wrong in giving yourself this break from unsolicited weight loss advice or to be mindful of your triggers. Some accounts you follow may mutate into something you do not particularly enjoy reading anymore and you are under no obligation to follow these accounts if they irk or upset you.
3. Dream bigger than diet schemes and weight loss regimes
Okay so if you think my post is utter hogwash or you disagree, and you do believe that diets will make you happy (remember, diet and fitness are not the same and I didn’t mention fitness was a problem only when it is excessive), id like to urge you to dream beyond diets, weight scales and small jean sizes. You are so much more than that and you deserve better.
I hope this was helpful in some way! Sending you hearty Aarti love 🙂