Aright internet, even though I’ve been doing my very best to keep to myself these days, think nice thoughts, and not worry about what others are doing. This post was unavoidable – Jess Weiner’s Weight Struggle: “Loving My Body Almost Killed Me.” In fact I barely want to link it here, because I am likening the title to a specifically annoying type of publicity stunt with what we’ve seen several other women’s magazines do this year. But you should read it just so that we are all on the same page.
Now. People are very upset about this article. I’m a little upset about this article, but my official opinion is that it is not as bad as the title suggests. The title is horrendous. Loving your body will NOT almost kill you – that is if you believe that loving your body INCLUDES things like exercise, eating healthy, and going to the doctor at regular intervals. To me, “loving your body” means taking care of it and not putting it on a shelf in the back of your brain, because the “self-acceptance” movement has told you you are OK at any weight.
The self-acceptance movement is not, nor in my opinion has it ever been about letting yourself go. Now, I’m not referring to letting yourself go, like when you stop doing your hair or whatever it is that people mean to when they use that phrase in hushed tones to describe someone who used to be attractive. I am talking about letting yourself go by not taking care of yourself. You can be fat and love yourself completely, but the human body still needs to get out and go for a walk around the block. You still need to get some vitamins. You still need to sleep adequately and drink enough water.
Loving your body does not mean forgetting about your body’s basic needs.
It does however mean that you can take care of your body in a way that comes naturally to you, and makes you feel your best. This can mean that you still have to make some hard choices for your health. For example, I am allergic to gluten and thus, much to my chagrin, I have to avoid it. This has nothing to do with gaining or losing weight, it is just an unfortunate truth that my body doesn’t process my beloved bagels in the same joyful manner that my mouth does. It means that in order to be my best self, and live in my best body, I have to avoid wheat. For some people this is sugar or dairy or booze or caffeine – the point is: each and every body is different.
Can you love your body and still want to lose weight? YES. I can love my body 100% and will still notice when I’m feeling sluggish or lackluster. I know where my body’s natural weight is, and, thus, I know what it feels like to move effortlessly within my own skin. And what it feels like when I’m not quite in that range. Sometimes this is for health reasons and sometimes it is because you just feel gross. Please note, I am not begrudging any weight or size when I refer to this “gross” feeling, it is simply the way that I describe the feeling of discomfort in my own skin when I am not taking care of myself. It is not an I’m so fat thing, it is a “I’ve been treating my body like crap for the last three weeks and I know that for my body to feel good I need to do X, Y, and Z..”
It is unfortunate that in our society, “weight” has become synonymous with “unhealthy”, and for that reason I am extremely grateful that the Health at Every Size movement has been gaining traction lately. The reality is, it is not the weight that is unhealthy, it is the habits that people indulge in that are not in line with their body’s natural rhythm and needs. Sure people can be overweight and unhealthy, but a thin person who eat McDonald’s for every meal is also likely unhealthy – except far less people villanize their actions.
This article upset me, not because it wasn’t well written or honest or brave – it upset me because the shock and awe tactics were employed by the magazine to elicit a strong reaction from its readers and others. This issue is being played out in doctors’ offices and within peoples’ hearts all around the country right now, and I am heartbroken that the message that they glean from this article is: all that Health at Every Size stuff WAS wrong all along, I knew it!, it says right here – loving your body will kill you!
Loving your body will not kill you, but ignoring it might. Refusing to take care of it? Perhaps. Running it into the ground, without making the slightest attempt to properly fuel it? Not advisable. Loving it to death? Not likely.
Other important posts on this topic:
- Dances with Fat, Loving Your Body Will Not Kill You and For Health Reasons
- Adios Barbie, When Loving Your Body Goes Wrong
- Family Feeding Dynamics, Accepting and Loving Your Body Will NOT Kill You
- Body Love Wellness, On Jess Weiner and Why Loving Your Body Won’t Kill You
- The Body Positive, Loving Your Body did NOT Almost Kill You
- The Rotund, I Wore My Ranty Pants Today; Meet the New Body Hate, Same as the Old Body Hate
- Jezebel [by Kate Harding], How One Woman’s Weight Loss Story Went Awry
- iVillage, Can Body Acceptance Make You Sick?