What if you never learned to compare your body to other people’s bodies?
What if you never looked down at your plate and wondered how many things you were doing wrong?
What if you didn’t look in the mirror and see something perpetually inadequate?
What if you weren’t taught that your worth is determined by your weight?
These are all learned behaviors. We learn them from the media, from our parents and siblings and friends and family. From off-handed, unsolicited comments from people we barely know.
I learned from a Sunday School teacher, a middle-aged man who walked up to me at a church gathering while I was eating a donut. “A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips,” he told me, and walked away. I was 11.
I had never heard that saying before. I turned it over in my head again and again until I fully grasped what it meant. And I didn’t forget it.
Within a year, I began to understand that you could “control” your body by dieting. I weighed myself every day to stay “accountable.” I lost several pounds, and it felt…empowering, somehow. Everyone noticed, and the accolades were unlike anything I’d ever experienced. I’d been a straight-A student and a good kid, but it was so clear: losing weight was my greatest accomplishment.
Being smart wasn’t enough. I needed to be skinny, too. I couldn’t have known what a dark path I was headed down. It all seemed so positive at first.
That’s the scariest thing about our cultural obsession with weight loss. Ostensibly it’s about wellness. But subliminally, what are we really saying? You’re not enough, and also too much.
Where did you learn to diet? It’s all learned, all of it, and you can un-learn it too. Do it for your family, and for the people you interact with. Do it for the kids — girls AND boys — who didn’t ask to be born into a legacy of body hate. Most importantly, do it for you. You deserve so much better than this.