Why We Need to Stop Talking About Weight Loss This Way
I was at a bridal shower this past weekend when the topic of weight loss came up. We had just finished lunch and dessert was about to be served, when one of the women sitting at my table said, “well, my diet starts tomorrow.” Immediately, there were echoes of, “mine too.” Even as the women were eating forkfuls of cake, they were continuing to talk about the past attempts at weight loss and how displeased they were with their bodies. They talked about the food groups they would cut out, and the extra physical activity they would engage in. The words “good” and “bad” were peppered throughout their conversation. I tried to block out what they were saying and enjoy my cake, but I couldn’t help but notice the 10-year-old sitting next to me. She could hear the entire conversation. She did not say anything, but she was taking in the messaging that not only are women’s bodies meant to be smaller but that this is what grown women talk about. I was horrified.
Admittedly, up until a few years ago, I was one of those women. I engaged in all kinds of diet talk. At a certain point, the word “diet” was replaced by “wellness,” but it still encapsulated the pursuit of weight loss and moralization of food and exercise. I was also engaging in a behavior that had been modeled for me ever since I was a child. Much like the girl sitting next to me at the bridal shower, I had grown up hearing similar conversations from older women in my life. Even the movies, TV shows and commercials I watched showed me that women were never satisfied with their bodies. As I got older, I developed an eating disorder. Diet talk did not cause my eating disorder, but being surrounded by people who were reinforcing my disordered thoughts made it that much harder to recover. While I did eventually recover, I had to remove myself from these conversations and I actually lost some friends in the process. It was a tough time, but it was crucial in improving my relationship with food. I also found that I just didn’t like to surround myself with people who only talked about weight.
First and foremost, know that if you engage in these behaviors, it is not your fault. Repeat: it is not your fault. Chances are, you were (and continue to be) inundated with diet talk. Dieting has also become a great icebreaker and unfortunately is just as common as talking about the weather. Women, in particular, are encouraged to engage in this self-deprecating behavior.
My question is: if we aren’t talking about weight loss, what can we talk about? Truthfully, the answer is different for everyone. It is important to think about your interests and passions. You offer a perspective no one else has. Why not share it? Further, if we were not to connect with other women over talk of weight and diets, what would we connect over? Could it lead to more support for one another? Could we bond over the things in life that really matter? There is only one way to find out. Just remember, whatever you are talking about, you deserve to eat cake at the same time.
Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash