We’re barely scraping the end of the festive season, and Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok are full of warnings about the inevitable weight loss waterfall that January is going to hit us with. Maybe too full, I posit.
It’s good to know we’re all in it together in the fight against the fatphobia, but that doesn’t stop the internalisation of it in our heads, and I wonder how much help the thousandth “here’s your reminder that we don’t need to lose weight this new year :)” actually brings the passive scroller. Having previously been spurred on to go against the grain, to gain a competitive edge in the face of this messaging, has only made me uneasy about its effectiveness.
These tweets can also serve to invalidate, or at the very least, neutralise the eating disorder issue. It also sets up a moral high ground stance on the part of the tweeter: if you do succumb to the demons, you're weaker, lesser. And a “reminder” that you shouldn’t fall into the weight loss-addict trap seems to insinuate that without its issuing, you’d simply forget. The issue, for some of us, at least, is that through years of abusing our minds and bodies to reach constantly shifting, unattainable goals set initially by heroin-chic models but perpetuated by our inner monologues, we grow in ourselves a repulsion to anything that’s not slimness. So no matter how many people post infographics full of body-positive discourse, if you’re still wired in that ED way, you’ll remain immune to the mob mentality. Pity them, even. They’re just trying to justify their own insecurities. Don’t let them drag you down. The hierarchy of eating disorders creates a mindset that is cruel and unforgiving.
These infographics and tweets, to me, feel like that “nOoOo don’t kill yourself you’re too sexy” snapchat. We can’t deny the good intention is there, but the force of its impact is barely enough to leave a scratch. In some cases, I’ve found them weirdly triggering. I suggest – radical in an age of insta-activism, perhaps – that we leave them by the wayside altogether. Focus on doing away with the toxicity of the original Y2K era, absolutely. But these constant, public reminders can unwittingly draw rifts – external and internal – in a process of recovery that is jumbled and ugly.
If we want to talk about normalisation, let’s normalise not caring about weight at all. Be body indifferent, not body positive. I’ve heard podcasters and writers talk about body indifference as though it’s a negative, or a halfway point on a process to reach the full-on, blow-out positivity about our sizes and shapes that we have a God-given right to. I personally see it as the pinnacle. Indifference to clothes sizes, food types, portions and calorie counts has helped me come leaps and bounds in a journey I truly never thought I’d make. Remove the emotion from it. Make it bland and uninteresting. Find other things to focus your energy on.
The sexualisation of women has played into this, too - for so long we have been treated as though, if we don't fit a body ideal, we are somehow "less than". And unsurprisingly, where sexist stereotypes are rife, capitalism has its say too. Body positivity has capitalist leanings, by its very nature, but body indifference is far harder for Big Business to permeate. Rather than playing into increased awareness of our size and shapes - somehow the acceptance of curves has created the "slim thicc" ideal - we should aim to bypass this thinking; rise above it altogether and deprioritise the importance of appearance. That should be the true goal: then, we are untouchable.
So I don’t want to be reminded not to feel bad about what I have or have not eaten over the festive period. I don't want that cycle of conscious thought and feeling about food starting up again. Going from forced starvation to uncontrollable binges was a journey that felt impossible to escape from, but one that I now feel pretty confident in saying: I mostly have.
I now eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m not. I exercise when I want to move, and sit still when I don’t. I’ve not exercised to “burn off” food consumed in probably over a year. I’m fine with how I look – I don’t love it, but I don’t hate it either. Instead, my indifference to it all has unchained my mind. Suddenly I can pour all that wasted energy into so many other different things; suddenly I have more time in which to live. It’s been a learned amnesia that’s done this, the de-prioritisation of a nasty habit that's finally been shaken off - though it's not been easy by any means. Personally, I don’t want any “reminders” about what I should or shouldn’t think about my body this year – freedom comes with forgetting.
Written by Lucy Dunn
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