Superficial Self Esteem

From my point of view, one of the most damaging things about the current slew of weight loss shows, diet books etc. is newly thin people trying on clothes, smiling into the camera and saying “I’m wearing single digits!  I finally love myself after all these years!!!!”.

If someone chooses their life partner or friends based entirely upon how they look, we call them superficial.  So why is it considered ok in our society to make our self-esteem contingent upon how we look?

I  take a decent amount of flack for being a body positive fat person.  Most recently, someone anonymously e-mailed me to say “I don’t think it’s a good thing for you to tell people it’s ok to be fat”. They said a lot of other really mean-spirited stuff, including calling me a fat bitch, but that was the gist of their argument.  I get an e-mail like this about twice a week (sometimes the writer is more respectful, but usually not).

Here’s the thing, I’m not interested in being in the business of telling other people what is or is not ok for their body.  There are size 0 women who do not have an eating disorder and are sick of people assuming that they do, or hearing bitter fat women call them “skinny bitches”.  There are healthy fat people who are sick of the death fat police telling them that if they don’t lose weight they are just going to keel over and die, or hearing insecure thin women call them “fat bitches”.

What I am trying to show people is that they can love themselves no matter what their size or what they want to do with their body.

If someone chooses to lose weight, or gain weight,  I fully support them (because, hey, it’s their decision and I want my decisions about my body and weight to be respected and supported).  I just think it’s unfortunate that they should make their self-esteem contingent upon that happening.

What about choosing to love yourself and appreciate your body for what it CAN do, and coming to your weight loss journey from that place instead of “I hope I finally stop hating myself after I lose 50lbs”?  What if you lose 50lbs and it doesn’t reverse your self-esteem instantly?  What if you do lose the weight and suddenly “love yourself”, but then something happens and you gain it back?

You might be able to afford to be completely superficial when choosing your dates, life partner, and your friends, but I think you will find that the price for superficial self-esteem is just too high.

8 thoughts on “Superficial Self Esteem

  1. I have been on that horrible journey of finally loving myself because I lost 70 some odd pounds. My boyfriend loved me. My roommate told me that before I lost the weight, I waddled. Charming. I thought everything in my life was contingent on an acceptable number on the scale. It was horrible, because then, of course, I regained the weight, no longer loved myself, my boyfriend didn’t love me anymore, and now I knew that my roommate thought I waddled, and who was I to argue with that?

    Then I learned to love myself in a sort of cerebral way, living from the neck up. I hated my body, so I did everything I could to dissociate myself from it. I worked on it so intensely that I got pretty good at it.

    When I finally came to terms with the fact that I have a body and that it’s a good one, I started to refer to body-esteem rather than just self-esteem, because I thought what I felt before was self-esteem when actually it was self-deception. I had thought that I could chop myself up into mind, body, and spirit and that I could live in only the parts I liked. What I didn’t realize was that my whole self suffered from my rejection of my body. I learned that because my whole self rejoiced when I began learning to love my body.

    So yes, self-esteem should never be contingent on the number on the scale or on any other superficial detail. Amen sister! I’m sorry you get those nasty e-mails. I’m so glad for your advocacy of body-esteem, body-love, body-joy, body-balance. Thank you for enduring the trolls.

  2. Mary,

    That’s my story too! I lost a bunch of weight (87 pounds) and was OBSESSED with how I looked/losing more weight. I stopped performing because I had horrid stage fright thinking about what people thought of my body. I became a micro-manager of my own flesh. I’ve gained back my weight. Now I kickbox, act, do stand-up comedy, dance, write, do improv, and sing.I think ‘yeah, I’m a fat chick, get over it!” I’m developing, as you so aptly put it, body-esteem. Consider it also co-opted by me.


  3. Wow!! This is sooo my story. I am now working on loving all of me this time around and being healthy regardless of size. Thanks ladies.

    1. Hi Marie,

      That is awesome! Good luck on your journey 🙂 If it helps, you might check out the Body Positive Newsletter, we put it out for free once a week to help remind ourselves to love our bodies all the time. You can check it out (and subscribe if you like it) at Either way, keep being awesome and thanks for reading!


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