Sometimes people just let you down. It happened to me. When I originally left my consulting career it was to work with a woman on a project about self-esteem. We had lots of talks about how weight and health are not not the same thing, body positivity, how the path to health is not about making people feel bad about themselves, and that healthy behaviors lead to health. Then she had an opportunity to create her full-time income selling an intentional weight loss product and we decided not to work together until she decided the path she wanted to take. We’ve not been in touch for a couple of months.
Today she issued a press release about her new website, selling weight loss. It starts out “Americans are more overweight than they have ever been in the past. And as obesity reaches epidemic proportions in the U.S….” The press release goes on to assume that the obese don’t exercise, and threaten that “many people continue in their habits until “the bill comes due” in the form of high blood pressure, heart disease or other health diagnoses”. It uses the term “grossly overweight” to describe someone. It goes on for a full page, basically selling weight loss through your usual shame, guilt, and fear tactics.
So, I am just writing this post because I’m hurt, disappointed, let down, bitter, and pissed off? I am all of those things, but this post is meant to be more than therapy for me.
When I saw this press release I felt all of those feelings at once. I had that moment that I hear a lot of people who work for body positivity talk about : where things look hopeless. If, after all of the talks that she and I have had, the discussions of how shame and fear tactics hurt people, hours spent talking about a new paradigm of health, if after all of that she could issue this press release, then what chance do I have of making a difference with my little blog?
Then I thought of the words of Christopher Titus: If you’re looking in front of you and see your past, flip your life. Now the past is behind you. Get down off the cross, use the wood to make a bridge, and get the hell over it.
I remembered the two e-mails I got today from people who were inspired by my blog. I remembered the comments that I get here, I remembered the girls at the eating disorder center where I teach who named me to their list of role models.
I remembered that I don’t get to choose who I’m an example to, only what I’m an example of.
So I stopped crying and wrote this blog to remind all of us: For better or for worse, liking yourself in the world we live in can require constant vigilance and incredible bravery in the face of what sometimes seem like insurmountable odds. The $40 BILLION A YEAR diet industry is trying to keep us all hating ourselves in a cycle of yo-yo dieting so that they can make money.
People will let you down – they won’t understand, they won’t try to understand, they’ll choose fear instead of courage, they’ll choose easy instead of worth it, they’ll choose money instead of truth. Then they’ll try to justify their actions by convincing you to make the same choices. There’s nothing that we can do about that.
But we can do something about ourselves, and we can be an example for anyone who wants one. With every choice we make, word we say, blog we write, thought we have about ourselves, by who we choose to surround ourselves with and who we choose to remove from our lives we can be an example. We can create an option and say “Come with me if you want. Maybe not the easy way. Maybe not the traditional way. But it’s my way, it’s working for me, it’s worth it, and maybe you’d like it to be your way too.”
Now if you’ll excuse me it’s time for me to put this all behind me and go work on the choreography for this year’s competition piece for Body Positive Dance Company – some of the most inspirational, difference-making people I know.