I think that the interwebs has some kind of scary algorithm that figured out that I am a large, curvy and beautiful lady. Except that the internet does not agree with my own self-image assessment, because it thinks that I should lose weight.
My social media accounts send me ads that are almost exclusively some skinny person doing exercises, the newest weight loss app, and vegan or paleo diet coaches. Nothing on my personal profile would suggest that I am interested in health or fitness. I do not post about my weight loss goals (because I have none). However, I think the internet can guess my weight and assumes that I wish I was skinny, which is completely WACK.
A lot of other people think I should be skinny too, not just the internet. Family’s members. Random men. Medical professionals who have no health Indicators to suggest why OR suggestions to for plans to change it (simply – you should lose weight). Friends or colleagues even. (Have you done this? I have, but I am learning… see these tips!)
So many people AND the internet have thoughts about my body. Not a day passes without opinions. I used to be what society would deem skinny because I played sports ball with excessive and obsessive perfection and then transformed that perfection to an unhealthy relationship with yoga and finally to an eating disorder.
Mental health and weight
Years later with the help of some mental health medicines I gained 40 pounds practically overnight (see shirt image below - credit Coffee Press) but after the initial surprise, I celebrated because I was healthy, happy, and finally stable. I go days on end without hating myself for my existence, and have I mentioned that I have the most incredible mental health stability that I have ever had since high school.
I have a big personality and now I had a big and beautiful body to go with it. Also, I grew amazing nalgas (translates to ass, but just doesn’t sound right in English, sorry for those who aren’t speaking spanglish with me), great for my solo and group dance parties. But every day, the internet and real humans tell me in many different forms that I should lose weight.
For the sake of science and what not I did some googling to try and give you a more balanced argument then my simple opinion of I HATE DIETS AND LOVE HAMBURGERS. According to some doctors and science, obesity can take three years off our lives. Three years, not that bad.
Did you know that bipolar people commit suicide at rates about 60x higher than the average population? People who live with eating disorders are up to 14x more likely to commit suicide. Fact, suicide takes way more years off your life than obesity.
I feel no shame in taking medication for being neurodivergent. Neurodivergent is another word for saying “mentally ill’ because instead of saying I am sick, I am saying that my brain works different than the average person. Mentally ill has a negative tone and comes with a lot of shame and stigma, whereas we people with divergent brains are just badass humans who approach the world differently and work differently, but are also really creative and have a lot of other super powers. But one major side effect of many medications neurodivergent people take is weight gain.
I have belly rolls and my arms are all jiggly. I don’t fit comfortably in some spaces. I do not meet societal beauty standards. And guess what, I feel like a beautiful queen goddess. Yet there are those facebook ads for weight loss and “health” coaches popping up every single day telling me to feel otherwise.
The true cost of dieting
I started doing some simple math on the cost benefit of folding to the societal pressures of fat shaming. If I were to go on a diet I would have to count calories and spend an hour on an elliptical machine 5 or 6 times a day. It would cost me $100 USD per month to join a gym in Mexico City that had a swimming pool so I could do proper exercise that took my back injury into concern. That is $1,200 USD.
The time it would take to do the exercise and travel back and forth to gym (400 hours per year) plus the calorie counting and extra grocery shopping and cooking (200 hours per year) to lose weight and keep it off is 600 hours. If I did some online work, consulting, or made some online courses and sold them to expand my business, I estimate that this 600 hours of my life could turn into $12,000 USD.
Assume I will have to spend more money on “healthy” food. This is taking into consideration I have access to buying healthy food and all the privilege assumed in being able to access food, which is another completely separate article, but I will refer you to some other great writing on the topic for now. Let’s assume I spend another $2000 USD additional in my budget to get this diet food.
AND, in my case, dieting will/does send me back into a period of self-hatred that corresponds to periods of self-hate that I never want to let my brain relive. And its not just me. Research found that dieting can have severe psychological impacts on people as they become obsessed with food, body image, and control. Let's say I do it anyway and I will need some intense therapy to keep me sane while I go about losing weight to keep up with these society expectations, so we throw in another $80 per week while I lose weight during a year. Add another $4160 USD to my costs.
My total loss or potential lost earnings are up to $19,360 USD in a year if I chose to go on a diet and . WTF.
No thank you. No seriously. Who has that kind of money?
Ok so here comes my big confession. After all this bashing of diets, I confess that I recently saw a nutritionist because I a year and a half ago I had spine surgery and I know that the weight on my body, though absolutely beautiful, puts stress on my spine. I don’t know this because a doctor told me but because I feel pain in my back. My spine surgeon simultaneously told me that I was fat and needed to lose weight while making inappropriate (aka creepy) comments about how he really appreciated my beautiful nalgas (aka fat ass). He had no suggestions for how to change this because he told me I could never do vigorous cardio exercise again due to the injury.
I want to use my spine and body for a number of years more so I saw a nutritionist. This nutritionist asked me if I wanted to weigh 130 or 140 pounds (which I haven’t weighed since I was 13 years old) and to give up coffee, one of the biggest joys of my life, so I laughed a lot and then decided that instead of I would write this post and figure out another way to take care of my spine. You guyssss I still can’t stop laughing. 130 pounds?
The revolution from within
I have existed in many different versions of my own body, in depression, in bliss, and I can promise you this: weight and happiness are not related. Weight and health aren’t related. Weight and the amount someone loved me weren’t related. Weight and my self-love are not related.
Society has been patrolling women’s bodies for all of eternity and has been attacking our bodies for just as long. Since I can remember I was told close my legs and act like a lady. Hatred of my body was passed on from generations on before me on from those before them. I don’t blame the ones who taught me because they hurt and suffer because someone taught them to hate their own body too.
But now is the time to stop that cycle.
My belly that I filled with tortillas and abundant food today, may be bigger than society thinks it should be, but it is perfect for my best friend who is feeling sad to rest her head on and tell me about her sorrows and her dreams while we look at the sunset together.
My big arms that don’t fit into clothes made for societal expectations are really good at carrying big bags full of native crops in busy bus stations as I build a revolutionary social enterprise.
My unpolished toes fit beautifully into gold sparkly shoes, shoes that aren’t considered “professional” but hold in my feet, hold up my big strong legs, the foundation that roots my strong big body into the earth.
Though our governments try to take claim to our bodies; and social media bombards us with advertisements telling us that our bodies are not good enough; and our people tell us to change our bodies; and our own brains tell us that our bodies are not good enough; and men touch us and try to take ownership of our bodies…this is just a kind reminder from some random person on the internet, to myself and to anyone else out there:
Your body is only your own. It is yours and it is powerful. The revolution starts within you. It starts with loving yourself and loving what is yours: you.
So, this year, may our skin and belly rolls flap around in the wind and the waves.
May we use our big strong arms to hold up signs in the riots as we fight for the rights of our sisters and siblings.
May we use those big legs to root us strong into our earth as we reclaim the rights to our own body and the right to love our own selves.
May we use those big bodies full of love for ourselves and others to take up space and exist in ourselves in who we truly want to be.
May the revolution start within, and may it start with love.