There’s a recent post over on Womanist Musings that slams the TV show “The Biggest Loser.” The main argument in the post is that shows like “The Biggest Loser” promote unhealthy views about weight loss and self image. While I agree with the general crux of this argument, I also have to add my two cents about obesity, weight loss, and the connection to feminist politics.
I have a very complicated relationship with dieting and body image. I was an anorexic throughout high school, but I am now currently overweight. I would love to be able say that feminism has helped me learn to love my body, but that isn’t the case. There is no outside to patriarchy, and as much as we would like to believe that embracing feminism means that we will learn to love ourselves exactly as we are, that has not happened for me. I am learning to love my body every day, but this will be an ongoing struggle for me until the day I die.
I joined Weight Watchers several months ago, because I want to lose weight and feel better about my body. I am not doing this because I think that I have to fit into some patriarchal standard of beauty. I am doing this because I want to make healthier choices about my food and create a positive self-image. So far, I am doing well. I go to my meetings every week, and meet other people who are facing the same challenges that I am, and I have lost an average of two pounds a week since I joined. This post is not meant to be an endorsement of Weight Watchers. But it is meant to give an explanation of why I feel like weight loss is a feminist issue.
There are many feminists who embrace their body fat, and I applaud them for it. I think women are fabulous at any size. But I also think that we should support people when they choose to make healthier eating decisions in order to improve their overall well-being. Dieting is not anti-feminist – even though I have taken many Women’s Studies classes that would have me believe otherwise.
What’s your experience been like? Do feminists have just as many problems learning to love their body as anyone else? If you’ve gone on a diet, have you felt like a sell out to the cause? I’d love to hear your voice.