By: Skylar G.
The New Year is a time for all of us to start over fresh and accomplish new goals. For some it may be being more organized, for others it may be starting a Project 360 or another art project.
The most common New Year’s resolution is to lose weight, but only about 8% of people actually stick to their resolutions.. Although it’s oftentimes easier said than done to drop a few pounds, the most important thing is to look deep down inside and examine why you want to lose weight in the first place.
Personally, I hate this time of year. I am one of those people that have been on and off diets since I was ten years old, was never athletic as a child and have just always had a hard time not hating my body. That’s why, with all of the rhetoric around “starting fresh!” and “starting over!” I can’t help but feel frustrated because it’s just not that easy. The language used in weight loss commercials about “feeling more desirable than ever before” focuses only on appearances, not on inside beauty, and reinforces this idea that you can only be sexy if you weigh under a certain number.
Now, there is nothing wrong with wanting to be healthy– even if that means losing weight. However, as a society, we often conflate weight with health, citing the BMI (Body Mass Index) as a barometer for health even though the BMI is inaccurate and only paints part of a picture of a person’s health.
A new year represents a time to start new and be a blank slate, which is why people see it as a perfect time to start a weight loss journey. If health is the reason why people want to lose weight, that’s great. However, women are faced with unrealistic beauty standards, which become internalized and toxic.
In a culture where popular companies frequently fat-shame anyone larger than a size two, it’s no wonder why the biggest new year’s resolution is to lose weight. We are faced with images from nearly every avenue telling us that we are not desirable; that we are not worthy of positive attention if we don’t look a certain way or weigh a certain number.
It’s toxic and painful and doesn’t make you feel good.
Being filled with self-loathing is one of the worst feelings a person can have; it eats you up on the inside and makes you feel unworthy of anything positive that may come your way. Diet culture and the whole culture around weight loss preys on those feelings of inadequacy, promising eternal happiness and contentment if you can just manage to lose those last five pounds. As Spilt Milk on Feministe writes “Diet culture, even when it doesn’t involve surgeries or starvation or physical harm (although it very often does involve these things) is violence. Even the language of diet culture is about hurt: burn those calories, zap that fat, I’ve been so bad, no pain no gain, beat the hunger, crush the cravings, fight the fat, battle the bulge, waging war on obesity. See? All about the hurt.”
When it comes to the New Year and weight loss, with all of the self-hatred that can accompany it, just remember all of the companies that are benefiting from your lack of comfort in your own skin: Gyms, clothing stores, diet companies like Weight Watchers, et cetera. All of them benefit from you wanting to make these changes, only for them to hope that you fall off the wagon and give them even more money next year. Capitalism has a vested interest in New Year’s resolutions for weight loss, and it’s important to critique companies that want to benefit from you being uncomfortable with yourself and your body.
If you want to lose weight for the New Year, go ahead! If you want to make an actual lifestyle change that involves losing weight, more power to you! , But it is also really important to examine where these desires are coming from.
It’s easy to forget that there’s more to you than just your body, and that what’s inside matters more than what’s on the inside. It’s important to value all of yourself, not just the physical attributes. It’s easy to criticize what you see in the mirror, but forget to validate arts of yourself that aren’t visible or tangible: your strength, intelligence, humor and empathy for others. Those are lifelong traits that are valuable no matter what dress size you wear.
You are important and your experiences and feelings are valid, no matter what you weigh.
You have the right to love yourself at any weight, and you also have the right to make changes as you see fit. You are in control of your body and only you should be the deciding factor.