I knew going into the holiday season that there was going to be a fair amount of diet talk around. People feeling that they need to announce large disclaimers about “working off” that piece of pie, or being “bad” for drizzling gravy on top of their turkey, or the ever-present… oh my god, so many carbs, do I need mash potatoes and stuffing?
The reality is that it has always been this way. I have participated in this fat shaming talk my entire life. We are conditioned to say these things so that people don’t judge us for wanting to enjoy ourselves – so everybody knows that we are going to “do” something about it.
And we keep doing it, because guess what… it works. Being a “good fat”, means shaming yourself in front of others. It aleviates the fatphobic fears of the non-fat people in the room and signals to them that they don’t need to be afraid; they don’t need to take it upon themselves to “school” you on how to take care of yourself because you’ve signaled through your plan to hit the treadmill or taking a break from your Keto regimen, that you know how to “fix” your fat “problem” and you’re “taking care of it”. Essentially, you are perpetuating fatphobic tendendices and reinforcing them by shaming yourself. Yikes.
Fat people even do this to other fat people. I hear people I respect and love dearly engage in this behavior and it breaks my heart.
Rationally, it’s safe to say that most people have no idea that any of this is wrong. They’re judging you for wanting a piece a fudge on Christmas, because at some point someone has judged them,too (they’re judging themselves!), but diet culture and fatphobia is so deeply engrained in our psyche that it is now happening on an unconscious level and it surfaces in moments when we want to feel some sense of belonging and worth in this world.
To help your conversations this season, here are two stats that should always be at the ready:
1. 95-97% of diets do not result in long-term weight loss. In fact, the research is now pointing to dieting as the cause for many of the issues that people associate with fatness. Regardless, people keep going back to it because a) it works in the short term; b) there is no alternative that science has found except surgery; and c) they are terrified of being in a larger body.
2. We are in control of roughly 25% of our overall health. That means that 75% is due to other factors/social determinants. So why do people use the “health” factor to shame us? Because most of the time, it has nothing to do with health. Most non-fat people are scared to death of looking like us, so they blame their disdain on health concerns. I find it so strange that people are obsessed about the health of others – so much so that they go so far as to placing value on those that have it, and devaluing those that don’t.
This is prejudice. My health status does not determine my worth – no more than any other protected class.
Shitty thing is…. fat people are not in a protected class.
Sorry – tangent.
The real message for you, dear readers, as we round out the last few weeks of December is this: You do not need to apologize for what you want to eat, explain how you’ve “earned” it, “work it off”, or make any excuse for enjoying yourself. You are a human and you deserve to have a fun and festive holiday without judgement.
When the diet talk starts (and it will), remember that you don’t have to be a “good fat” and make the thin people at the party feel better by telling them that you are going to hit the gym come Jan 1. You can say nothing at all, walk away, or if you’re feeling strong, tell them this: You know what I’ve earned? The freedom to live my life however the fuck I want. You do you, and I’ll do me. (F word optional).
Sending you all strength and love to take up some space this holiday season, rest when when you need to, and take extra care of your heart. Xoxo Jeannie