BY KAT SMITH
My mom has recently gotten on a health kick in an effort to get fitter, so I’ve been accompanying her to gym sessions and meetings with nutrition specialists (aka phony herbal supplement salespeople). They’ve asked us both what our health-related goals are. My mom cites a numbers of pounds she’d like to lose but when they ask me, I always say, “I just want to live a long and healthy life. I’m not really concerned with weight, I just want to stay healthy.”
I thought that’d be a reasonable answer, but yet, every time they pause as if they are waiting for me to add to my statement before they ask “So… how much weight are you looking to lose?” And I respond, dumbfounded, “I don’t know… I’m not really looking to lose any. I mean if it happens, fine. I’m just trying to stay active.”
Now, I’m an average height, and know for a fact that I’m well within the healthy BMI range. I have no chronic health problems and eat my fruits and veggies on the regular. My nutritional habits might not be perfect (as my penchant for peanut butter can attest to) but all in all, I think I’m doing pretty alright at this point.
So I’m kind of wondering why everyone— from my family, to the media, to so-called “health professionals”— seem to equate diet and exercise strictly with losing weight. Maybe I’m on the treadmill because, well, I like to run? Or maybe I’m eating carrots because I haven’t had my daily dose of Vitamins C? I’m trying very hard to understand this obsession with size, but seeing as my brain doesn’t really get fatter or skinnier depending on what’s on my plate, I’m finding it a little difficult to care at this point.
Yet, no matter how confident I try to stay in my own body, other women are always there to keep me in check. “She’s really gained some weight”, my mom comments on a friend’s Facebook photo before turning to me to say, “You might think about losing a few pounds too.” Why do we feel the need to police each other? If Kim Kardashian gains 10 pounds, it’s an instant headline. But what difference does her or anyone else's weight make to your own life? We are conditioned not only to hate ourselves, but also to take issue with any other woman who doesn't have the picture-perfect bodies we're so constantly shown.
We can't entirely put the blame on each other, but it still feels like everyone wants me to be concerned about the number on the scale? I’ve been actively trying to work against an idea that has been beat into me for several years now by pretty much every ‘Women’s Magazine’ on sale today, but it’s starting to feel like people actually want me to hate my body and equate waist size with self-worth. Has self-hatred really become the expectation for women everywhere?
Fortunately, I stopped putting up with that a long time ago when I went on the feminist diet, which means I eat whatever I want, guilt-free. It must be working so far because I feel better than ever. No self-loathing required.