On Wednesday May 6th 2020 Suffolk County Legis. William R. Spencer (D-Centerport) announced a new initiative about putting the Town of Huntington on Long Island, New York on a “voluntary diet” in an effort to avoid weight gain during the COVID-19 pandemic. We know that diets are not the answer to the collective anxiety and trauma we are all experiencing surrounding this pandemic. We simply can’t shame people into being healthy. A diet may give us something to do and it may feel good for awhile, but inevitably the diet will end and the weight will come back and the negative feelings will return.
What does it say about our society that some people are more afraid of gaining weight during a deadly global pandemic than they are of actually getting sick? I don’t know about you, but if I survive this pandemic with my health and all of my loved ones and I also happen to gain some weight, I’ll consider myself very lucky.
Commenting on someone’s weight loss (aside from reinforcing the false ideal that fat=bad and thin =good) might be complimenting someone with cancer, an eating disorder, depression, food insecurity, substance abuse, and a whole lot of other conditions.
Common scenario: you’re getting ready for the day and you’ve got a cute top on, but when you go to slip on your pants, you can barely button them up. They may be cutting into your waist, unable to close, and just plain too tight. Regardless of where you are with your body image, this moment of being too expansive for your clothing can set off internal panic. You wonder what happened between this moment and the last time you wore these pants? Did you expand that much in one week? Why do you still even care about these things? One simple trigger has the potential to ruin your whole day if you let it.
Weight changes are a necessary part of life, but that doesn’t mean they’re ever comfortable. We can tie our entire identities to our body size, and when it changes there’s a huge loss of our former selves. So how on Earth do you begin to see yourself right now, regardless of what you looked like yesterday or what you will look like tomorrow?
It’s a simple fact of life that our weight will not remain exactly the same over the course of our lives. Your birth weight of 6 lbs 9 oz (fun fact: that’s my birth weight) just isn’t going to cut it as you grow into your adult height. However, just because our weight changes at certain times during life, it doesn’t mean the changes are easy to deal with.