If you’re on Facebook or Twitter, you may have seen the New Year’s Revolution campaign started by Marilyn Wann and Amanda A Evans. The idea is to put an end to the ridiculousness of setting New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, or diet, or any other body loathing goal. If you’d like to learn more, you can have a look at the campaign page set up here.
Most of the campaign has a Health at Every Size foundation, but since I don’t believe HAES (or even health) is compulsory when it comes to fat/body acceptance, I’m going to skip that bit.
I am however going to talk about fat acceptance and body acceptance as a New Year’s revolution. I like the idea of “revolution” instead of “resolution” because, well, let’s face it, actively working towards NOT hating your body is radical, revolutionary. When the mainstream media is flooded with ZOMGOBESITY CRISIS stories, magazines and other popular media tell us in one breath how to love our bodies, then how to diet them away, and then look at these yummy desserts you can make, stepping out of that flooding stream of body negativity is a radical act.
We are taught that loathing your body, no matter it’s size, is normal. From being too fat, too thin, too short, the wrong shape, too wrinkly, going grey, having visible pores (let alone actual “blemishes” like freckles, scars, zits, moles, and all the other completely normal things that human bodies have), being too hairy, not having lush, flowing locks on our heads, having curly hair, having straight hair, having big breasts, having small breasts, from being apple, or pear, or whatever other fruit they can think of shaped bodies, you name it, you’ll find a magazine article, or a news story, or a television advert about it being “wrong”. We’re bombarded with these messages from as early as we can hear and see. We hear them from our parents, our colleagues, our friends, everyone in our life. We are told what clothes to wear to be “flattering”, what shoes will elongate our legs, what makeup will hide our “flaws”, what diet will get us “bikini ready”. Fitness, and increasingly more loudly, the moralising of “health” (to be exact: thinness) is the message that is hammered home over and over again.
Is it any wonder that when a new year rolls around, and the cultural meme of setting resolutions for the coming year kicks in, so many of us just default to body loathing to spur us on to our goals?
What if you were to just not do that this year? What if you were to not set any goals, or if you feel you need to, set a positive one? Or one not even related to your body? What do you think would happen? Do you think that your life would suddenly get worse if you didn’t diet or if you just stopped engaging in body hating activities? Would you die? Would anyone go to jail? Would the zombie apocalypse happen?
I’m totally ready for the zombie apocalypse if it does happen, by the way. No really, I’ve got it covered.
I know what would happen. You’d not have to worry about the disappointment of failing another diet. You’d not have to beat yourself up about breaking another resolution.
You know what else might happen? You might actually feel good about yourself. You might have more time to spend on living life, because you’re not fussing over diets or having to get to the gym when you hate it. You might actually look in the mirror one day, and not feel bad.
I can tell you what has happened to me since I stopped buying into body shame and loathing. Now, just like Pantene, it didn’t happen overnight, but it did happen. Let’s see:
- I’m a heck of a lot happier than I was when I bought into all of that diet and body shame and loathing.
- I can look in the mirror and not feel worthless, ugly, repulsive.
- I can go shopping without it being a major exercise in self loathing.
- I save a whole lot of money that I used to spend on diet pills, meal replacements, diet magazines, “fitness” gadgets, and a bajillion other expensive things designed to fail at losing weight and getting fitter so that I would just spend more money on them.
- I get dressed in the morning and feel good about how I look, and if someone doesn’t like how I look, then tough shit to them! I still feel good about how I look.
- More people compliment me than ever. Now that my shoulders are back and my head is held high, people feel they can approach me, they smile at me and I smile back.
- I just smile more often than I used to.
- When someone makes a rude comment, or is downright nasty, I now realise that’s their shit, not mine.
- When the black dog of depression does bite my butt, and I find myself either depressed or anxious, I am better equipped to work it through than I was when I was full of body loathing and self hatred. It still happens, but it is usually shorter and less severe.
- I’m better company when socialising around food. No more agonising, no more causing a fuss because “there’s nothing I can eat” (because I was eating nothing and hated being around food), no more self loathing and guilt trips for actually letting any food pass my lips.
- The range of clothing I will now wear is far greater than it ever was. All those things I told myself I was too fat to wear… just get in my wardrobe already!
- I have so much more confidence with dating. I hold my head up, look a dude in the eye and smile.
- I save a shitload by not buying magazines.
- I only watch TV without any ads… I can watch twice as much in the same time.
- When I have conversations with people, it’s about INTERESTING stuff. Not diets and how fat I am and blah blah blah.
And there are no doubt dozens of other benefits that have come my way since I got off the body loathing roller coaster.
Look, I can’t promise you that all of this is going to happen to you. I can’t promise you that any of it is going to happen to you. But don’t you think it’s worth a try? Don’t you think that if you get just ONE benefit from giving up on all of the self loathing and actually being kind to your body, and therefore yourself, the experiment is worth it?
Would you give it a try? Just for 2011. Come on, the water’s fine. Jump on in. We’ll look after you.