I believe thoughts and discussions about weight are one of the biggest drains on our vital energy. Last week, I sent a note to the people who subscribe to my newsletter. It was a personal note about my weight. And in full transparency, I admitted that I have carried on an internal, ongoing, and exhausting monologue about my weight for the past 30 years.
I haven’t spent that much time and energy on anything else in my life. Not even my child. So last week, I confessed and told my readers it’s time for me to break up with dieting. The response I received was overwhelming. While everyone did not agree to quit, they all agreed it’s time to get over it.
A few readers sent me advice on how to diet more holistically. As I read those comments, it occurred to me that the reason for my awakening isn’t about finding the right diet. It’s also not my realization that I waste a ton of time thinking about weight – mine and other women’s.
What I realized is that this obsession with weight is, in part, an aspiration to fit inside the cultural ideal of what an attractive, healthy woman is supposed to look like. It isn’t really about health and wellness, though many times it is packaged that way. I believe it is more about being accepted in the white American cultural norm of the right weight. And as much as I speak to the need to understand where you align or do not align with white, normative culture when it comes to work and career, I was saturated in the belief that “thin” is better for me. That being thin would make me appear more competent and give me credibility.
To be truly in line with what I believe — which is that your success lies in your difference — I had to examine my fixation on my weight. I was trying to make my body become something it isn’t so that I would fit in with the normative culture. Through reading and discussion it became clear that I can’t continue to be in integrity with my message and belief until I dealt with my mindset around weight.
I want this to be the message here: What we know to be true about weight, health, and beauty in this country is built on the foundation of the white female ideal, which has very little to do with many of us from the perspective of race, age, and for heaven’s sake, real life.
In my note, I shared that my introduction to Weight Watchers came when I was about 12 years old. Another one of my readers shared that her mom enrolled her in Weight Watchers when she in grade school to prevent her from becoming fat. Most of us never learned another message.
I know I can’t teach my daughter everything I know about success and empowerment, only to believe that it all goes to hell if she’s 10 pounds over weight.
If you want to clear your perspective, you have to change what you read. I’ve decided to unsubscribe from everything weight related. I don’t want to know the newest best food, the best exercise, or whether carbs are in or out this month.
Instead, I’m focusing on leveraging what is best about me, weight included. I’m focusing on doing my best work, which I realize I can’t do if I am aspiring to fit into something I am not.
One of my readers, Cathy, had the best response. She said she had just had this same discussion in her book club after reading the book, Mirror Mirror Off the Wall by Kjerstin Gruys. I haven’t read it, but Cathy highly recommends it.
In her comment, she relayed her experience during book club: “Imagine a room full of very successful women (of all shapes, sizes, colors, and ages), not one of whom has passed through life without serious body issues and/or eating disorders.
What a waste of time, money, and energy all this body image and dieting stuff is! Think of all the businesses we could start, careers we could advance, public policies we could change, (and) communities we could improve if we directed our time, money, and energy to those things instead.”
I heartily agree. And, I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to get started.