I am with Kim Jong-un – cease the burden loss gossip straight away. It is not a praise, it is deeply dangerous
I agree with Kim Jong-un. This is not something I ever thought I would write. And I want to categorically say that I disagree with him on 99.99999999 pieces of his ideas and actions. But incredibly, I found one tiny thing in common, a topic we all agree on: weight loss chat is bullshit and needs to be stopped.
K, I’m not sure Kim would phrase it that way, but that’s how I go about it. It was recently reported that Korean officials are introducing a ban on gossiping about the leader’s weight loss. And I can’t believe I’m saying that, but … listen, listen, Kim!
Well, the motivation behind the gossip Prohibition in North Korea is slightly different from my own desire for such a ban – the leader’s weight loss has led to speculation that he may be ill, and with the succession arrangement unclear, his death could disrupt the power structure of the nuclear-armed country. My plea to give up the boring chat about weight loss is a little less relevant to the Geopolitical situation, but still important.
Coming out of the pandemic – will each of us ever feel safe to say it? – I think that we all agree, was burdened on many levels. Being around people again is a deeply strange feeling and brought up a topic I had forgotten: the phenomenon of “body comment as a compliment”.
“You lost weight!” Three little words that convey so much – everything? – about the values of our society, our socially prescribed purpose as a woman, our deep-seated fat phobia. “You look fantastic! Congratulations! You are smaller. You are acceptable. Well done. Never sway now, never take up more space, never go below the impossible standard again or this praise is withdrawn, this approval becomes disgust! “
I’m not innocent of that. When I was growing up, women’s bodies were the main ingredient in the gossip mill. ‘Who has put on weight?’ was literally the most debated topic on the table, followed by “Who lost weight and how did they do it?” So boring and so, so harmful.
The idea that “you lost weight” is not a compliment is nothing new, of course, but I have a feeling that many of us are returning to our old knee-jerk way of looking after each other after the pandemic. Became to be thrown back into the path of judgment of others.
In March 2020, I was almost nine months pregnant (another scenario where people feel completely free to say what they want about women’s bodies). So yeah, for most of the people I see for the first time since before the pandemic, I’m smaller than last time. The person who was inside of me is walking next to me now. Still, I wish they wouldn’t say it. In fact, I need them to stop saying it. It is hard work fighting socialization for a lifetime, believing that one of my main functions as a woman is to be attractive and that the most reliable way to achieve that attractiveness is to be thin.
I, like most women, really introduce myself I have to make a conscious decision every day not to care about how I look. You see, caring can quickly turn into obsession, a parasite wedged on my brain. I have gone through many phases in my life where I routinely withheld food and cataloged everything I ate. In fact, I feel dishonest about using the past tense here because, to be honest, I get in and out of disordered eating habits so often that some kind of manic deprivation is more my baseline than any kind of healthy outlook on food.
At 36, I’d like to say that I grew up trying to be smaller. As I said, I go through phases where I really try to be normal when I eat. I do things, I read the books and I listen to my body. But what do I hear when I listen to my body? I hear it panic because it feels out of control. How messed is it that I feel safest when I restrict my food? And how confused that I get compliments for it?
The pAndemic has been exposed to prolonged stress for over a year and a half. A time when many of our bodies have changed. And when that body has gotten smaller, it is assumed that it is something positive, forgetting that weight loss can be a by-product of negative things – illness, grief, stress, eating disorders. We never know what’s behind the changes in a body, so really, just to be on the safe side and the healthy side, don’t say anything.