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Why I hate the weight loss industry

Hands up who has ever tried or been tempted to try any crazy diet or pill to lose weight? I certainly have.

Studies have shown that two thirds of women have tried to diet in the last year. But have we ever stopped to think why we are so concerned with our weight? We live in society where girls are taught that they must not take up space. We tell people that they ‘look good’ when they lose weight but telling them they ‘look healthy’ has connotations of weight gain. Studies have further shown that girls as young as 8 are dissatisfied with their bodies. When did this happen? When did we allow our 8 year old girls to feel so inadequate because they have thighs that touch? When did we stop teaching them that it’s who you are on the inside that is so much more important?

So why do I hate the weight loss industry? Well firstly because they are constantly pushing messages that we are not good enough because we are not thin enough. So we must take this pill that will make us smaller, or lose x amount of weight in a week with this one secret, or drop a dress size in 3 weeks. Because then we will be happier, more confident and our lives will be more together…right? Wrong. Weight loss does not equal happiness. Rapid weight loss, as promoted by the weight loss industry, does not even equate to good physical health. All it does is promote the destruction of our bodies and the manipulation of our organism in order to fabricate quick weight loss results which are completely unmaintainable in the long term.

Secondly, it takes advantage. January is a month I hate. Why? Not because of the long dark days, cold temperatures and dreary weather but because the weight loss industry takes advantage of the post-Christmas slump. Christmas is such a happy time for most people, and yes it’s indulgent. But who cares? Who cares that you spent a month eating two mince pies for breakfast, accidentally ate your advent calendar in one go (we’ve all done it) and drank far too much on Christmas Day. In reality no-one cares because we’re all in the same boat. But I’ll tell you who does care, the weight loss industry. Christmas is barely over and everywhere you turn, in every shop, there is a book or DVD or magazine encouraging you to lose weight. But it’s not just suggesting you might want to lose weight. It’s telling you you SHOULD want to lose weight. You must because it is vital that those few pounds you put on over Christmas are lost. And as fast as possible.

But does it stop there? Oh no. Fast forwarded to May and we are quite literally bombarded with adverts and magazines all telling us how to get ‘that bikini body’. Let me tell you one thing right now. You already have your bikini body. You have a body. Next stick a bikini on it. Now whether you’re a size 2 or 22 strut your stuff because no-one has a right to tell you whether you are ‘beach body ready’ or not. You’re already ready. And damn you look good.

Thirdly, it worries me what all these messages are doing to our younger generation. I’m concerned that in a world where we have an obesity epidemic, we will also see a considerable rise in disordered eating among adolescents. I am saddened to read that children so young are unhappy with their bodies. We should be teaching children how fantastic their bodies are and that fueling them with healthy food is not just a means of maintaining a healthy weight but a means of maintaining a healthy body. We should be telling them that they are beautiful no matter what and that their weight has no correlation with who they are as a person.

If you are unhappy with your weight, try and figure out why. It could be to do with something much deeper. Do you constantly compare yourself to your friends? Do you change 8 times before you go out because you’re desperately trying to find clothes that make you look thinner? Could it perhaps be that you are unhappy with yourself and you are subconsciously using your body to project that insecurity you feel within? Just remember everyBODY is different. 

My main struggle is that my natural body weight is the upper side of healthy. And even though my body weight is still healthy at my set point and my body works best there, I struggle with the relentless talk of diets and detoxes and am jealous of those with a naturally low set point. But we are all wonderfully unique and it’s about time we accepted that our lives should not be ruled by a number on a scale, or what clothing size we are but by what kind of person we are and how hard we love, how wide we smile and how strongly we care for others. 

Contributed by Jenny