Something I read about on Twitter and in the general populace a fair bit is about weight loss. Lots of discussions about methods, ways, schemes, what to eat, what not to eat and so on. Eat more protein, eat less protein, carbo-free, no sugar. You know the ones. And there are people in our community who are on them swear they work – and are happy to tell everyone else to follow that same method, way, scheme so they can just be as happy losing weight as they are.
Good for them. Personally, it doesn’t matter that much.
I was married to a weight loss consultant (not a full time job for her) and from what I could see, what she was offering worked for people who were prepared to think about what they ate and committed to a more balanced approach. It was long term, lifestyle based discussions with like minded people trying to change their approach to eating and life in general. It seemed pretty reasonable to me. So does the balanced approach to weight loss and reflecting on it conducted by Bec Pobjie on her blog. Much better than these schemes that require you to completely cut yourself off from a particular food group because it happened to work for one person.
But that isn’t my point, really. My point is that I think the meetings that company offered meant that the women (and it was almost exclusively women) who went could have a chance to share what worked and what didn’t as well as their feelings and fears about being excluded from society because of their weight.
What boggles my mind though is that it shouldn’t matter. We shouldn’t be forever nattering about weight loss schemes in the outside world. Weight and people’s perception of weight shouldn’t matter to the self-esteem of women and men in our society. Men are forever reassuring their female partners that “they aren’t fat” – settling a neurosis built into women by a society that is forever talking about weight loss schemes. Women are discussing weight loss over coffee and reading magazines packed with thin people telling them how they maintain their figure.
The problem comes with weight loss and talking about it when it becomes the main topic of conversation with people, dominating other aspects of their personality and psyche. They can’t read books or see films because they have to go to the gym again, or “no, I can’t drink that wine/beer/eat that food because it’s not in the diet” or “oooh, aren’t you lucky you can eat that piece of chocolate cake”. They become jealous of those who are seeming to be enjoying life, either by eating what they like, or by doing things that isn’t ruled by a focus on weight control. Such a focus on weight loss distorts people’s personalities and engagement with more important and interesting issues.
Ultimately, I’m sure that people who respond to this will say “you don’t understand, you’re a man” or “it’s ok for men, they can be any weight and it doesn’t matter”, or “men can lose weight so much easier than women”. All true, though it is changing for men as well. I will never understand why women judge each other on their weight. Nor why it becomes so important for a woman’s self esteem. Most men I know don’t really bother themselves that much about women’s weight, unless they are self-deluded fools or the men who are obsessively building their six pack instead of their mind. Any man who does urge their partner to lose weight clearly doesn’t have much of an interest in their partner’s personality or genuine engagement with their mind. It should be the decision of the partner to do it if she wants to.
To those out there who feel empowered about controlling their weight – I admire that and congratulate you. But what are your views on the carbon tax? Asylum seekers? Occupy Wall Street? The glass ceiling? Empowerment of women in the workplace? Marriage equity? The representation of gender on TV and Films? I really want to talk about those things. Not whether you’ve lost 1 kilo on the No Milk Diet.