It’s the most wonderful time of the year—except when it’s not. We love the holidays, but we hate those post-holiday weight gain tips. Headlines like, “Lose the quarantine 15” and “7 Day Holiday Challenge-Fast Weight Loss Meal Plan” make us sick. Why? For two big reasons: fatphobia and the fact that holiday weight gain is a myth.
Why Holiday Weight Gain Posts Are Toxic and Fatphobic
First of all, it’s important to know that posts about losing weight after the holidays are fatphobic and very toxic. What is fatphobia? We love this definition from an op-ed penned by Virgie Tovar.
“[Fatphobia] is a form of bigotry that equates fatness with ugliness, inferiority and immorality.”
Oof. How many times has someone made you feel less, insecure or downright shamed because of your body? Maybe a family member commented about how you’ve gained weight, or you’ve seen those photos of moms with tiny bodies after giving birth and “bouncing back.” No matter who made you feel that way or said something hurtful, if you’ve been judged for your body and your weight, it was fatphobia.
Fatphobia also has huge medical implications. In 2017, Self reported about the ways weight bias negatively impacts women who seek medical attention; the writer shared that their endometriosis, a painful condition that can cause infertility, internal organ issues and debilitating cramps, was overlooked because she was overweight. Doctors ignored her pain and her concerns, and she’s not alone. Fatphobia often causes doctors to prescribe weight loss instead of running tests or trying to figure out what might be happening in a fat person’s body.
Here’s the thing: fat is not a bad word. It’s just a descriptor, and it shouldn’t determine how people think of you, your abilities, or how capable you are. It especially shouldn’t mean you’re deprived of life-saving medical care. That’s part of why holiday weight-loss posts are so, so toxic. Fat people are often told losing weight will solve all their problems, and it contributes to diet culture. According to NationalEatingDisorders.org, diet culture is dangerous and harms people of all sizes.
“You can explain that there are healthy and unhealthy people of every shape and size, and that adding healthism to sizeism is not a good look,” NED.org states on their site.
They describe diet culture as the use of food rules and restrictions to manipulate body size, whether that’s to make sure you don’t become fat, or to lose lots of weight. But only a fraction of people can manipulate body size this way and diet culture is a HUGE gateway to eating disorders.
It honestly feels like celebs make headlines for promoting diet culture every day; just ask the Instagram influencers who hawk “detox teas” without mentioning they’re really just laxatives that make you poop constantly. Not helpful.
Also, Holiday Weight Gain Is A Flat-Out Lie
Yeah, we said it, because it’s true. Get this: WebMD says it’s unlikely anyone will put on as much as five pounds during the holidays, from fall to winter. Here’s what they said about the myth on their site.
“A study of 195 adults showed that -- from late September to early March -- the majority put on 1.06 pounds in six months' time,” WebMD stated.
WedMD says weight tends to happen in small increments over time, which admittedly, can contribute to health risks. It’s true that excess weight makes us more susceptible to heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. The difference between WebMD and other blog posts though, is that WebMD’s medical and scientific fact isn’t packaged with diet culture, toxic judgement or moral assumptions based on weight.
It isn’t fatphobic to take an interest in your health, or to have fitness goals. Fatphobia begins where health ends, because health doesn’t have anything to do with morals, or whether you’re “lazy.” This is really crucial for your emotional wellbeing and overall body image. Body positivity is a movement started by fat activists who see the way these judgements, including holiday weight gain posts, affects fat people. Although body positivity is about loving your body where it is, it’s also so much more than that. It’s holding publications that release holiday weight gain posts accountable, it’s holding doctors accountable, and it’s holding ourselves accountable by not participating in fatphobic events, conversations and systems!
If those holiday weight gain, or weight loss, posts make you anxious or feel shameful, you’re not alone. It’s easy to feel bad about your body when we’re constantly surrounded by companies selling products designed to reduce you—to make you smaller, to make your skin less red, to make your body less and more perfect.
But we’re here to tell you that no matter how great celebrities get at Facetuning their imperfections away, or shaping their photos to have tiny waists (and believe us, most of them do, they don’t really look like that), you don’t have to listen. You don’t have to absorb it.
You can, and should, refuse to give anyone the opportunity to take away your self-love. Remember that most of the time, people who tell you it’s possible to be perfect are selling you something. If you’re already sold on your own body positivity though, you’ll never be a buyer.