I am a 90s kid. I work dark lip liner and pink lipstick, I left the house with oversized overalls and crop tops and yes, I remember using dial-up internet.
The other thing that I distinctly remember about that time was the obsession with being thin. Everything was fat free – even potato chips! Hollywood starlets were going from an athletic size 6 to waif-like size 0 as the norm. And everyone was obsessed with Atkins, South Beach or whichever diet would get them skinny fast.
It’s no surprise that in a few short decades, women world-wide are rebelling against this obsessive “diet culture” and are flooding the ‘gram with #bodyacceptance and #bodyconfidence hashtags.
But have we gone too far again? Is it taboo to want to lose weight in today’s society?
Now of course people can take weight loss too far. I am not in favor of obsessive weight loss and I definitely do not want to return to the days of fat free potato chips, but there are a lot of healthy reasons that you might want to lose weight. You may want to:
- Ease joint pain
- Improve energy
- Improve confidence
- Prepare for a race
- Get healthier before conception
- Fight zombies
But despite knowing all of the perfectly healthy reasons you may want to lose weight, our current culture still doesn’t accept weight loss as o.k.
In January 2020, actress and comedian Rebel Wilson announced on her Instagram that 2020 was her year to get healthy. She posted openly about her workouts and weight loss journey and the world watched her work toward her goal.
And many of her fans crucified her for it.
Here are some of the comments that were posted:
“Stop promoting weight loss and diet culture – it’s literally killing us.”
“She does not love herself because she lost so much weight.”
“All the years of her promoting body positivity was a scam.”
The same trend followed singer Adele and actress Melissa McCarthy supporting the message that it’s good to be confident in your body, but there is something wrong with you if you want to lose weight.
So what about us non-celebrities?
As a personal trainer and coach, I can see the manifestation of this conflict in my clients. When we begin working together, they share goals such as “improving energy”, “eating better”, “feeling more confident” and “feeling comfortable in their body, but if I ask them about weight loss, they downplay the importance of that outcome by saying things like, “I just want to feel healthy.”
For most of my clients the path to their goal IS weight loss – they are just afraid to say it.
Does the body acceptance movement have it all wrong? No.
Loving oneself at any size is right. Not being defined by your physical appearance is right. Rejecting quick fix diets and being thin to the point of harming yourself is right.
It is also o.k. to want to change your body. If that helps you achieve important goals such as health, vitality and confidence, then do it!
The REAL issue is HOW you go about it. Healthy weight loss methods must be rooted in science and prioritize long-term physical and mental health. This can’t be achieved with the mudslide of crash diets, 30-day challenges and supplements out there, and definitely not fat free chips!
So if you want to lose weight, I want to say to you:
It is o.k. to love your body AND want to improve your health
It is o.k. to feel confident AND be accountable for exercise and nutrition
It is o.k. to reject crash diets AND accept healthy weight loss methods.
Body acceptance is loving who you are AND also owning your body and what you want to do with it.
And don’t let anyone tell you that it’s not o.k.