Yesterday as I skimmed a few news sites and social media sites, I came across endless diets, weight loss fads and a downright disturbing article about ‘bikini bridges’ which, it appears, is the latest in ‘thinspiration’ trends (we’ve moved on from the thigh gap, apparently). I caught up on a piece about ‘diabulemia’ and thought about how diabetes adds an extra degree of difficulty to all things – even eating disorders.
The relationship between weight, food and diabetes is so complex and confusing. We’re told to maintain our weight to remain healthy (or prevent developing type 2 diabetes in the first place); we’re told to manage our cholesterol for heart health; we’re told that certain foods are taboo; we’re told we need to eat at certain times to prevent lows; we’re told we should eat a lot of carbs/not too many carbs (depending on who you listen to today); we’re told to cut sugar (tweet below gives you some indication to how I feel about that one!) and we’re told that our waist circumference is yet another number to think about.
Now take diabetes away and we’re told a heap of other things.
There are polls about who has the ‘hottest’ body as if it is something that can be measured, and there are ‘half their size’ magazines at the supermarket. Ads for The Biggest Loser are already on our screens. Faux-concern is directed towards celebs who seem to have lost too much weight. Between fat-shaming and skinny-shaming, it appears no one is safe.
We refer to women’s bodies as ‘hot’ as if they are pieces of meat to be graded. There is no consideration for whether they also happen to be intelligent, have a strong social conscience or are good at horticulture. Or knitting or whatever it is that they are good at. Because it doesn’t matter. As long as they look hot.
Women become known as specific body parts (except Elle Macpherson who is known as ‘The Body’ which means that no one cares what’s going on in her brain). Pippa Middleton isn’t known for being Pippa Middleton. She’s known because her arse looked ‘hot’ in a white dress.
Apparently having a certain body shape makes a woman ‘authentic’. Curves, allegedly make a woman ‘real’, whereas being skinny somehow, miraculously, makes her less real. Believe me, as someone who has at times had some decent curves to hold on to and then at other times can see bones protruding, I’ve always been real.
I don’t think much about my weight. It’s never been an issue for me and I’ve never been on a diet. During periods where I’ve tried to eat better, the focus has been health, not weight loss. Also, I love Nutella too much to even contemplate cutting processed foods out of my life. Also, bacon. And cupcakes.
Daily, I find myself struggling with how I feel about the dozens and dozens of images that I see. I’m confused at how I should feel about my own body. Today, I look in the mirror and see that I am probably the thinnest I’ve been in some time, meaning I’m closer to the ‘body ideal’ that the fad diets promise. And yet, I look at my collarbones – all sharp angles – and feel slightly ill.
Where in there is the message that to be happy with ourselves we need to – well, be happy with ourselves? Where are the messages of celebrating who we are for more than how we look in a pair of skinny jeans? In fact, can we stop referring to jeans as skinny, please?
The discussion needs to shift. We need to stop talking about weight loss and ways to look ‘hot’. No one can achieve the things being promised. In fact we’re all destined to fail. But health? Health is something we can all work towards achieving. And if each step is measured by our wellbeing – not the size of our thighs – we’re working towards something worthwhile and meaningful. Feeling better inside. And my guess is that will have far longer-reaching consequences than detoxing for a few days.