Resolutions: Haters Gonna Hate (Themselves)
Around this time of year I watch television ads like a hawk. If you’ve read this blog in the past you know I have a hate-hate relationship with the diet industry. And right now they are making money hand over fist as they convince the nation that THIS year some new crash diet or workout craze (or dangerous pill) will be the answer to their weight lost pleas. But this year, even though the ads are pretty similar to ads we’ve been shown in the past, what has really hit me is how much hate of their own these ads contain: the hate people should feel for themselves that serves as “motivation” to lose weight.
In a commercial for Weight Watchers that I’ve embedded below, a woman shows off her new body and rips apart a picture of her former, fatter self. We’ve seen these types of actions before and lots of narratives that describe the former, fatter self as if they are a disgusting stranger. People say things like, “That person was in pain,” “I don’t know who that is,” and “I’ll never be that person again.” As if that former, fatter person DOESN’T MATTER. As if everything else they may have had, like career success, a loving spouse, or beautiful children, were meaningless because of all. that. fat.
But if you think about it, the people watching the commercials are the “befores,” the ones who will transform once they shill out that money to join the club. They are asked to hate themselves now (the fatter self that will become the former, fatter self) to turn that into the motivation needed to become the future, loved self. What makes me saddest of all is that I know many of my own friends are thinking about their weight these days. Thinking about how much to lose, where to lose it, and (if they believe the army of weight loss ads that are currently everywhere) how much happier they will be when they lose the weight. But I love my friends. I love them hard just the way they are. And it pains me to know that companies out there are making them feel like shit because they could be thinner, if only they tried hard enough right?
Now don’t get me wrong, I am not on some sort of fat acceptance tirade. I know there is a correlation between weight and health, but it is not one to one. I think people of ALL weights should strive to be HEALTHY. And sometimes that will lead to weight loss and sometimes it won’t. (In fact, I lost weight using WW because before that I had no idea how to cook healthy food and instead ate the deadly “standard American diet.” But I absolutely hated the meetings where they told us all it took was willpower to get through). We should be thinking about how to fuel our bodies so that they can do the things we want them to do – dance all night long, hike all day long, bend into yoga positions that make us feel amazing, whatever – and how to work our bodies so that we feel good all the time, not just when we lose those magical few extra pounds.
Because I love my friends, I don’t think they’re “befores” at all. I think they’re beautiful. Right now.