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The desire for weight loss is never about weight loss

When a person is craving weight loss, they are never craving weight loss. Weight loss in and of itself is meaningless. A person tends to crave weight loss because they believe that lost weight will change their life in some way. Hirschmann and Munter talk about this in their book When Women Stop Hating Their Bodies, saying that women tend to fall into the mistaken belief that you change your body and you change your life. Kate Harding pointed out in her landmark post on The Fantasy of Being Thin that we don’t imagine ourselves just as a thinner person, but as a different person. When a person wants to lose weight, they want something else to change.

Maybe the person wants to lose weight because they want to feel better. Sickness and lack of energy are never fun. We have been told so often that the only way to feel better is to lose weight. Yet, many individuals in our community have found that they feel better when practicing HAES, whether or not they lose weight. And, people who practice HAES tend to stick with those healthy behaviors, while people who diet don’t tend to stick with it.

Maybe the person wants to lose weight because they believe they cannot have a relationship without it. What if your ideal partner likes bodies just like yours? People exist who like plump bodies, and people exist who like big fat bodies. For me, that belief that my body had to be a certain size for me to be lovable led me to two very nasty situations. First, I tended to get into abusive relationships as they used my insecurity to control me. Later, I could stay stuck being single. I didn’t have a relationship because of my body, not because I wasn’t ready for one. If your ideal relationship hasn’t come your way, then I suggest you think about these things: are you ready for a relationship? Are you open to a relationship? Does something need healed in your life before you can be in a healthy relationship? Do you like and love yourself? These kinds of questions are so much more important than body size when it comes to healthy relationships.

Maybe the person wants to lose weight because they want to be more accepted by society. Now, this is the hard one. On the surface, it is easier to change our bodies than to change society. Yet, to reach true acceptance we must change society (especially since changing our body seldom works in the long run). I know that some people just want the fat hate to end and don’t have the energy to fight it. I understand this desire for weight loss more than any other. However, I know that focusing on weight loss usually leaves the person with lower self-esteem in the end. A fat person who attempts weight loss to please society is more likely to believe they deserve the treatment they receive. Add that to the feelings of failure that dieting usually brings and these beliefs can have a devastating effect on self-esteem. I have found that the less I believe that I deserve mistreatment, the less mistreatment I get. So, changing our own attitudes about the fat body is the first step. Secondly, I have found that some kind of activism helps me deal with this lack of acceptance. It may be as small as telling a good friend about FA, but activism helps me feel less powerless when facing society’s fat hate. Besides, I firmly believe we will succeed in eradicating fat hate one day.

These three examples are just a few of the reasons people want to lose weight. The weight loss is always a means to end, however. And, the thing about weight loss, the individual can get stuck in trying to achieve weight lose weight and loses sight why they were trying to lose weight in the first place. Attempting weight loss is a great way to keep us spinning our wheels and going nowhere.

So, the next time you catch yourself thinking “I want a [smaller, different, thinner, etc.] body,” I encourage you to ask yourself, “What is it I really want?” Once you figure that out, focus on getting your true desires, rather than getting bogged down in weight loss. You are more likely to succeed in the end.

And, in other news, I have sent my first book off to my publisher, Pearlsong Press. Yay! Yay! Yay! The book, called Talking Fat, is about the rhetoric surrounding the push to eliminate obesity. It should be out before the end of the year. I will keep you updated as to its progress.

A Respite of Beauty and a Balm for the Fat Soul | The UK: clothing utopia for smallish fat women

vesta44's picture
December 2nd, 2011 | Link | I agree with this. I know

I agree with this. I know that every time I went on a diet to lose weight, it wasn't only because I wanted to be thinner. When I still had a relationship with my mother, it was so she would get off my back about what a fat, lazy, slob I was. Later on on, it was so I could fit into smaller clothes, or so men would want to actually date me instead of just come around for sex (didn't realize at the time that it was a problem with the men I was seeing, not a problem with me). The diet drugs were to lose weight so my mobility issues would be "cured" by weight loss (which didn't happen when I lost weight) and the weight came back when I quit taking the diet drugs that were taken off the market because of the side effects (phen-fen). And when I had my WLS (that failed so badly), it was so I could have my knees replaced when the time came because my NP lied and said no surgeon would replace them at my weight (I see a surgeon now for my arthritic knees who told me he'd do my knee replacements when the time comes, my weight isn't a problem).
So yeah, all of my reasons for losing weight weren't just for losing weight, they were to fix some other part of my life, and even when I did lose the weight (because I did lose weight, temporarily), none of the situations were really "fixed" - my mother found other reasons to call me a lazy slob and denigrate me, men still wanted just a friend with benefits, and later on, my mobility issues sure as hell didn't go away. And the weight always came back, and always brought a few extra friends with it.
It took me 10 years of Prozac and therapy to decide to cut my toxic mother out of my life. That therapy also helped me get some self-esteem and figure out that I didn't need men who used me in my life. I figured out ways to work around my mobility issues because I haven't been able to find a doctor who's willing to look past my fat to actually diagnose what's causing them. All of that doesn't require me to lose weight, but it does require me to be happy with who I am, at whatever weight I am. That I can do, now that I've found fat acceptance (this last five years since I found it has been so much easier).

WLS - Sorry, not my preferred way of dying. *glares at doctor recommending it*

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