Last week I published a post “My 6 Favorite Reasons to Lose Weight.”
I also, and importantly, began that post with a HUGE disclaimer:
“This post is intended to be very sensitive and also a bit in jest but not really.”
Yes, most certainly!
That post and this post are somewhat hyperbolic. I do not mean to say, at all, that anyone is acceptable or unacceptable based on the motivations they have for wanting to lose weight. Not at all. Your reasons are fine! I have no desire to cast judgment on people for the way that they feel. I personally have probably had just about every single motivation for losing weight out there — or at least all of the negative ones.
But I understand entirely why I had them, and I have so much empathy and sympathy for the woman I was.
And some days, I still feel like that.
So all of the reasons for wanting to lose weight are of course completely acceptable. Since I have a program out that helps women lose weight (Weight Loss Unlocked: The Paleo Woman’s Solution), I wanted to be clear why I think weight loss can be a good thing.
I wrote a post on that last week, which you can see here.
And on the flip side of that, sometimes wanting to lose weight can be a bad thing that negatively affects us.
To that end, today I bring you a somewhat flippant but also totally serious post: my definitive list of some of the worst reasons to want to lose weight.
1. Thigh gaps
Thigh gaps are a terrible reason to want to lose weight!
Whether a woman has a thigh gap – regardless of how little body fat she has – is entirely dependent upon her genes. Some women’s legs bow out more from the hips than others. That’s just a simple fact of genetics. Some women have very little body fat but still have thighs that touch, simply because their knees are situated closer together, as a necessary fact of their skeletal structure.
So if you spend your days staring at yourself in the mirror, measuring the distance between your feet on the floor, and measuring the distance between your thighs, stop it. Don’t. I did this for ten years of my life. I was enamored with the thigh gap before the official thigh gap even existed… back when I was around 12 or 13 years old. I had no idea that it was a physical impossibility for me, and if I had, it might have saved me years of anguish.
Of course, physically impossible is not the only reason a thigh gap is a bad reason to want to lose weight.
It is also a bad reason to want to lose weight because no particular socially-constructed idea of what a woman’s body should look like should ever be your motivation for losing weight.
Thigh gaps, six pack abs, hourglasses, bikini bridges, J Lo’s body, J Law’s body, any woman’s body… your body does not have to look any particular way in order to be sexy. It really, truly doesn’t.
(If you don’t trust me on this one, read my best-selling book on it, might change your mind ;))
2. Last Five Pounds
Please, someone, for the love of everything that is holy, tell me why any of us care about “the last five pounds.”
There is nothing healthy about losing the last five pounds, for one.
In fact, it seems as though it might be entirely unhealthy to lose those pounds. This is especially the case for women, whose bodies are extraordinarily sensitive to caloric restriction and intense efforts to lose weight.
So if it’s not about health… what’s it about?
Conformity to a standard ideal?
Demonstrating your level of discipline?
Demonstrating your level of moral superiority?
Showing off for your girlfriends?
I think the answer to all of these questions is “yes.”
Fortunately, they don’t have to be. You don’t have to be ideal to be attractive. In fact, I think the opposite is true, and being uniquely yourself is the most attractive thing you can do.
You don’t have to demonstrate your ‘discipline.’ Your diet may be disciplined, and that’s fine. If it is, good for you, you don’t have to be super slim to show that off. And if it isn’t, that’s fine, too. Mine certainly isn’t, and I’m personally proud of myself for escaping the trap of discipline I was stuck in my whole life.
You don’t have to demonstrate your moral superiority. No one is ‘better’ or ‘worse’ if they look a particular way or eat a particular way. That’s just straight up stupid. Don’t let your peers or the media make you think otherwise. Being a good person is about being compassionate, empathetic, kind, strong, proactive, and the like. Save your energy for the tasks that the world actually needs us to perform, not shaving off pounds to meet some random social standard.
We often feel like we need to lose weight because our friend groups put pressure on us. You don’t have to cave to this. You can either get new, better friends (I endorse this!) or you can stand up to your friends and feel proud of yourself for doing so. There’s no need to compete, here. You’re all beautiful and awesome in your own ways. If they disagree with you, tell them otherwise or kick them to the curb.
3. Because mom/friend/boyfriend/husband said so
No one else deserves to tell you what to do with your body, period.
I work with a lot of women who suffer under the scrutinizing gaze of their mothers. I find this to be more sad than I could possibly say.
I know a lot of women in the world who suffer under the scrutinizing gaze of their boyfriends, and who try to meet some ideal in order to please their boyfriends and get the validation they have promised.
This is terrible. There are a few ways to handle this: you could confront your aggressor and attempt to have a rational conversation about how your body is your own and not somebody else’s to judge, and explain why their words make you feel bad; you could tell your aggressor to piss off, that is, if they aren’t receptive to your concerns, it may be time to liberate yourself from them as much as you can; or you can ignore your aggressor whenever they make you feel judged. This isn’t the most permanent or helpful course of action, but it can be helpful in the interim while you try to figure out what to do.
The bottom line here is that your body is your own, and you are perfectly lovely and smart and kind and good and beautiful in all the ways, and the people in your life should see you as a whole person, rather than a collection of physical parts.
For most of my life, I lived under the delusion that if I lost weight, people would find me more physically attractive, and like me more.
To a small extent, that is true, because we live in a society that so highly values thinness.
But that is really only to a tiny extent.
I learned this personally when, after starving myself for several months, I became quite thin. While I was thin, I gained confidence. When I behaved with confidence, men efflusively complimented me and asked me out. When I was having a “bad body day” on the other hand and had hardly any confidence at all, men kind of ignored me, even though my body was exactly the same.
Then, when I regained about fifteen pounds and kept my confidence, I found that men continued to compliment me and be enamored with me.
The moral of this story is that it wasn’t my particular body size that drew people to me, but the effervescent and fun person I became when I learned how to be confident. This applies to men, to women, to romantic interests, and to platonic friends. People love when others are confident and fun. They really, in the grand scheme of things, couldn’t care less about your body. The most important thing is that you are happy, and that you can share your happy delights with those around you.
5. Because overweight people don’t “deserve”…
Buried deep in most of our subconsciousnesses are notions that overweight people don’t deserve to eat, don’t deserve to be happy, don’t deserve to be loved.
We think these things because society has rammed them down our throats. Corporations that sell weight loss products, clothing, make up, perfumes, and the like all make more money the worse we feel about ourselves. Advertisements promise us that if we buy a particular outfit we will be attractive and all our woes will go away…. corporations aren’t selling clothing to us per se, but rather the dream of all the positive qualities we might have if we decide to buy their stuff.
So they deliberately manipulate us to keep us feeling down on ourselves. This is a very, very real thing.
One thing you can do to help mitigate feeling this way is shutting yourself away from media, catalogs, and the like as much as possible. Ignoring them will help lessen the din they can create in your head.
And the rest of the time you simply need to remind yourself that your amount of body fat has nothing to do with how good of a person you are, how productive you are, how rich and full your life is, how much you have to be grateful for, and so much more. You are not your body size, and your body size does not mean you deserve less.
You deserve everything that is good and beautiful, because you are human.
6. Because being overweight is “immoral” and “lazy”
Just like thinking we don’t deserve things, we tend to think that body fat is a signal that someone is lazy.
This could not be further from the truth.
I know plenty of super slothful, super lazy humans who eat crappy food and are quite thin.
I also know plenty of heavier people who are super hard workers, ambitious go-getters and world changers, who eat almost nothing but beautifully clean paleo diets.
No one’s body fat percentage reveals anything about their food habits. No one’s food choices say anything about how moral or lazy they are as a human being.
7. Because men think its hot
So lots of heterosexual women want to lose weight because of the opinion of men.
And I understand to an extent – our society does, for one, have a fair number of men who hate, who literally hate, overweight women. I don’t really understand why, except maybe these men just don’t like that overweight women haven’t conformed to the patriarchy demand that all women become as thin as possible.
But for men who are reasonably well educated and a part of your social groups, having a super slim body really doesn’t mean much of anything.
When it comes down to it, heterosexual men like women, and if anything particularly sways them to find them attractive, it’s the embodied, confident way in which women inhabit their bodies that excites them the most, not fitting into a perfect size. It’s the happy way in which women who are comfortable with who they are are more than happy to be themselves.
The race to super lean bodies is less driven by men than it is by women. Ask almost any man and he’ll say he’s more than happy to be with a woman who’s got some meat on her bones. It’s only we women who impose on ourselves the idea that we have to be thin in order to be attractive or loved.
So let go of that illusion, and see for yourself. I personally have been a reasonable slew of different body sizes, ranging from about a size 00 to a size 9 (though admittedly never a “plus size” so I can’t report on that end of the spectrum, and please take my apologies for my ignorance), and have found that I have literally zero difference in my reception from men in terms of attractiveness. Zero difference.
And even if I did, your love for yourself and your body is worth so much more than that.
So much more than that.
Men are not the answer. Validation on the street is not the answer. Knights in shining armor are not the answer.
You alive in your own skin – and happy – that’s the answer.
So that draws me to the end of my totally definitive list of less than awesome reasons to want to lose weight.
Obviously there are so many more out there! What do you think about my reasons? Do you have your own?
While you’re at it, head over to the post: My 6 Favorite Reasons to Lose Weight, and let me know how you think these stack up against those.
And, if you are on a weight loss journey but want to do it healthfully and while coming to love yourself and your body even more, check out my program for women’s weight loss, Weight Loss Unlocked: The Paleo Woman’s Solution. If not, even better.
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