by Golda Poretsky, H.H.C.
Every once in a while, a commenter will despair that one of my tips is not based in reality. I often ask people to love themselves more, to focus on their desires, to trust themselves, and for some readers, it feels like I’m asking the impossible. In essence, they ask, “Why should I think things about myself that I know aren’t true?” And my usual response, to paraphrase, is “because truth is often relative.”
This summer, I wrote about how the show More To Love depicted a world where plus-sized women, by mere virtue of being plus-sized, couldn’t find meaningful relationships. And I asked many of you to think about whether this reality was really your reality.
So the question I’d like to pose to you is, do the thoughts and assumptions posited in [More To Love] really reflect reality?
I have fat friends who are married and are in committed relationships. I also have fat friends who are single and dating or single and not dating all that much. I also have thin friends who are married and in committed relationships and thin friends who are single and dating or single and not dating all that much. I have thin friends who have been dumped for no reason or bad reasons or mean reasons, and I have fat friends who have been dumped for no reason or bad reasons or mean reasons.
I know that I can’t be the only one with friends like this. People run into issues with dating and relationships. Fat, thin or in between.
Perhaps even more troubling than More To Love, is the incredibly popular show Biggest Loser. Now in its eighth (!) season, The Biggest Loser loves to reinforce what many fat acceptance bloggers refer to as the “good fattie/bad fattie” dichotomy. In other words, “good fatties” eat extremely low calorie diets, work out with trainers shouting at them, and will nearly kill themselves (literally) to make their bodies socially acceptable. “Bad fatties” on the other hand, sit around in sweat pants and eat fried bonbons all day. Of course, 99.99% of people don’t fit either extreme (or don’t fit the latter extreme), but those people aren’t really depicted in the world of the Biggest Loser.
How do I know so much about The Biggest Loser? Well, I’ll tell ya. Back in 2004-2006, I was kind of a fan. I was doing my Weight Watchers thing, losing weight, feeling good about myself in that way that temporary weight loss used to do to me. I thought I’d found the answer to my big fat prayers, and I was excited to see the contestants doing the same.
And yet, there was always a part of me that would think — this kind of weight loss cannot be healthy. Even if you weigh 500 lbs, losing 20 lbs in one week cannot be good for you.
I used to search the Internet for information on the Biggest Loser’s “stars”, especially as new seasons started and I found myself wondering about the former contestants. If the Biggest Loser was such a boon to their health, why wasn’t NBC trotting them out all the time as evidence of the efficacy of their program?
That’s why I wasn’t all that surprised when the New York Times recently reported that the winner of Season 1, Ryan Benson, who had lost 122 lbs on the show from his starting weight of 330 lbs, now weighed over 300 lbs again. Actually, I was surprised that the Times reported it, but not surprised at the weight gain. Ryan is just another example of why diets, even diets where you’re carefully monitored by a slew of “professionals”, don’t work. Not only that, contestant Kai Hibbard of Season #3, has publicly admitted that the contestants would intentionally dehydrate themselves before weigh-ins, and that she gained back “31 pounds in 2 weeks, simply by drinking water.”
If you’re wondering, like I had, why we haven’t heard more from past contestants, perhaps it’s because, as the Times reported, contestants could be fined $100,000 or $1 million, depending on the timing of the interview, if they talk to a reporter without the show’s permission .
I’m not kidding. A million dollar fine! I almost can’t imagine the person who would sign a contract subjecting themselves to that.
Or maybe I could. Maybe a person who lives under the spectre of the “good fattie/bad fattie” paradigm could sign a contract like that. It’s like those old stories of people signing deals with the devil. You do what you have to when you feel like you have no other option.
And that’s why I keep writing this blog, so that you know that you do have options.
This week, I would like you to take some time to question your assumptions about reality. Do you assume certain things about fat people or thin people? Do you assume certain things about your health, your abilities, your relationships, based upon your size? What are some assumptions that you’re ready to let go of?
As always, please comment below and let us know your thoughts!
Golda is a certified holistic health counselor and founder of Body Love Wellness, a program designed for plus-sized women who are fed up with dieting and want support to stop obsessing about food and weight. To learn more about Golda and her work, click here.
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