I am deleting my past weight loss app status messages, and I could not feel better about it.
Why am I doing it? It does seem a little silly. It's all in the past right? No one else will probably find it in their memories. Even if they do, they won't give it a second thought, because diet culture is so damn rampant in our society that it's not really noteworthy that back in 2012 I was trying to lose weight and allowing my weight loss app to post to social media for me.
But I care.
When I look at the "On This Day" app on Facebook, I'm reminded of how I was tracking all my food, exercise and weight loss on the daily and posting my milestones. And I kind of hate it.
I hate it because I was, unknowingly, participating in a system that rewards the bodies of some, while denigrating and punishing the bodies of others. In seeking to lose weight and making that struggle public, I was reinforcing diet culture.
There's a performative element to weight loss. Those who post about it are doing so to get support and validation for their efforts. It's respectable to be attempting to lose weight. It shows obedience, shared acceptance of cultural norms, and self-sacrifice.
Weight loss is given moral value: women that are trying to lose weight, to mold their bodies into smaller, thinner shapes, are seen as good. It fits with our puritanical roots and neoliberal present to laud weight loss. So, if you perform it for an audience, you're going to get a lot of validation and support.
Well, fuck that.
I want to get validation and support for existing in the body I have now, and I want that for everyone else too.
If your body is fat, disabled, trans, intersex, genderfluid, gay, bi, queer, black, brown, latinx, asian, native--basically, anything that doesn't fit white/cis/hetero/thin, you're told you don't fit. You have work to do. You have to conform. If your body doesn't fit the model, you must be striving to get there, and the more you perform that struggle, the more validation you get.
In the fat community, there's been some discussion about "good fats" vs. "bad fats". I'm paraphrasing here (and if I get it wrong, please correct me), but the idea is that some fat bodies (hourglass shape, athletic body type, shown to be actively participating in exercise, etc.) are more acceptable than other fat bodies. There's still layers of privilege, even if you're overweight and not what society would generally deem thin.
Further, your public struggle to lose weight can be very triggering to those who are trying to get out of diet culture, and have experienced trauma caused by it.
When I was attempting to get out of some pretty disordered, orthorexic behavior in 2014, I got super triggered by friends who were pursuing different health goals, because literally any goal in the health/fitness area would set me off. It took a lot of work and self-care and rewiring before I could celebrate those goals and my friends' successes without feeling some kind of acid-reflux mix of jealousy, regret, anger, and fear.
This is what would go through my head: Am I a bad person because I'm not actively trying to lose weight? Am I not respectable? Will I be looked down on at CrossFit because I'm not doing their latest clean eating challenge? I mean, I'm obvs thick and I am not participating in the effort to be smaller, so clearly everyone thinks less of me. And why are my friends still doing it? Ug. This is so confusing!
Ultimately, I got it down. I stopped worrying about what everyone else was doing and started to focus on how I was feeling. I went out in the world more. I took on different projects, challenges, and hobbies. I got pregnant, and everything changed. I had to go for radical acceptance of my body, or I was doomed to be mopey and afraid forever.
So. My gift to myself and anyone else who happens to stumble across me on social media is to not perform weight loss. My work is to ensure that my public presence is one that my daughter will be proud of someday; someone who includes all bodies as good bodies, and who strives to improve her body's performance, not appearance.
And also, deleting all of those status messages is liberating as hell. I suggest you try it.