Back when I was in my weight loss phase, pre-body positivity, I was told not to look at numbers on the scale, but on how my clothes fit. My trainer at the time noted that you can gain pounds while losing inches, and focused more on my measurements than weight.
Even that isn’t something I’d do today. I don’t tie my self-esteem to numbers, whether that be weight or measurement or clothing size or salary or age. The numbers don’t fucking matter. How I feel matters, and I can feel good without having to consult a bunch of numbers.
So I was a bit disheartened to see this Weight Watchers commercial with a really bad cover of Another One Bites the Dust playing in the background, featuring all manner of smiling, dancing women and one token dude boogieing it up as they step on their scales and watch the numbers go down.
I’m not surprised, mind you – WW is very numbers-focused, and they’re selling a product. But just that idea that people are dancing and laughing and celebrating while watching numbers on the scales decrease implies that if the scale goes up, you should just curl up into a ball and cry you fucking loser.
Look, if anyone reading this is thinking about losing weight, whatever the reason, go check out this website for Health At Every Size before signing up for Weight Watchers. Because unlike WW, HAES won’t encourage you to tie your sense of joy, victory, and celebration to what the scale says. HAES focuses on the overall person and keeps the priority on health and activity and self-esteem instead of putting all the focus on a quantitative measurement. HAES doesn’t care what you weigh. HAES cares about how you feel.
I’m never going to tell someone not to lose weight. That’s a personal choice. I do encourage people who have gotten caught in a cycle of gaining and losing, or have had a lot of diet plans and weight loss products fail, to start exploring body positivity and HAES.
I also encourage people who are hell-bent on weight loss to not tie too much of their goal-setting to numbers, but to focus on making long-term lifestyle adjustments. If you aren’t able to overcome the need to quantify your success, at the very least understand that fad diets and short-term solutions like cleanses probably aren’t the way to go. Slow, steady lifestyle changes will work much better.
And while I’m all about people celebrating their personal successes, I always like to remind the world that fat people who aren’t trying to lose weight have the right to celebrate their bodies, too. People who are gaining weight, whether intentionally or unintentionally, have the right to celebrate their bodies too.
Everyone, no matter what they weigh, has the right to celebrate their body.
Maybe, instead of playing Another One Bites the Dust for every pound lost, we play it for every nagging self-doubt that’s overcome, every body-positive thought we embrace, every instance of fat phobia and weight discrimination we call out and speak up against.