Is weight and the effort to lose it too personal of a matter to talk about it online? I definitely don't think so. Do we need to change how we talk about and view health and beauty? Yes, yes we do.
In Yes, I'm Overweight, and I Don't Care, blogger Michelle Arnold shares her story with weight, from watching her parents' relationships with their own bodies and health to horrible comments directed at her because of her own weight. At the end of the post she makes a couple of statements:
Do not talk about weight on the Internet. Do not talk about your weight, or anyone else’s. If you have decided to lose weight, either for health reasons or because you are unsatisfied with how you look, that’s great. More power to you. I wish you all the best.
But there is absolutely no reason the Internet needs to know about your mission.
Because when you call yourself “fat,” you are not just hurting yourself. You have the potential to hurt others who struggle with weight, and whose stories as to why they are overweight you may never know. When you do that and you also deny the reality of fat shaming, you provide a handy link for all the thin fat shamers out there who are compiling evidence for “interventions” with overweight friends and family. “See! This person is [or was] fat too, and she says that being fat shouldn’t be glamorized!”
Weight is an extremely personal issue. Let’s keep it that way, shall we?
Here's the thing: being fat shouldn't be glamorized. Neither should being thin. Michelle and I are in total agreement there. What is important - so, so important - is being healthy. Health is what should be celebrated. And one person's healthy body will look very different from another's.
I believe that I have a moral obligation to be healthy because our bodies are important. My body is a Temple of the Holy Spirit. All of me - soul and body - has been redeemed by Christ and all of me - soul and body - will be in Heaven for eternity. I am responsible for taking care of my body.
I also know that I have not been doing the best of jobs with that. Further, I know that for me to be super trim and toned I would never get to eat or drink food I enjoy and I would have to work out a ridiculous amount of time. Since I like food and I hate exercise, manipulating my body into that kind of shape would be horrible, a punishment almost. There is a balance, a happy medium we can call it, and I call that being Healthy.
Now I have a whole sub-category in my sidebar called "being fat" and I use that term because I'd much rather think of myself as "fat" than "obese." Hopefully when I've written about my struggles with my weight I've never hurt anyone else. Michelle is right though, there is the potential that when someone who looks like me sees me and then hears me calling myself "fat" they may feel like I just called them fat. I may even be unintentionally striking at a wound they have. I hope everyone knows that when I'm talking about myself I am only talking about myself, and I sincerely hope I haven't hurt anyone.
But since a healthy body can look very different from one person to the next does that mean we shouldn't talk about it online? Should we not share our weight loss failings and victories on our blogs and social media accounts because it's too personal and may hurt or be used as ammo against someone else?
No. No way.
Weight loss journeys are no more personal than the many things we bloggers talk about: politics, religion, sex, death, addictions, child loss, family planning... If I were to not write about topics that may hurt or offend I would having pretty much nothing to write about. Writing about my kids could be a wound for the child-less; writing about my marriage could hurt the single, divorced, or widowed; writing about the beauty of Christ in the Eucharist could hurt someone who is outside the Church.
Plus, I have always found inspiration from those who are willing to be vulnerable and share their weight loss journeys. My friend M.H. blogged her weight loss and I still think of her (even though I only know her through the internet) when I am trying to do better. Right now The Crescat is sharing the same journey on her blog and I've found her honesty to be both inspiring and encouraging - even when she's struggling.
Healthy can look like a lot of things. I actually like my body with a bit more "softness" and feel much more feminine that way than if I were super trim and toned. But I also like when I can comfortably sit, bend over, walk up stairs, play with my kids, go for hikes, buy clothes not in the Plus / Women's section of stores. Finding that balance is hard and it's one I plan to continue to discuss on my blog because it helps me and hopefully it will help others. I hope you all will stick around for it and I hope that as I have success you will celebrate with me and that when I fail you will not tell me to try Paleo but will continue to cheer me on.
If you want to read older posts on weight here's some of the highlights:
Removing the shame so it will all taste better
A letter to myself as a new mom
PSA: Never ask a woman when she's due
Real Beauty: hard to watch
Running to Lose: a guest post on weight loss