Just yesterday, I took a stroll down the “dietary aids” aisle at the grocery store where I bore witness to so many promises inside shiny packages. Teas, supplements, powders, bars and gels. Tiny drink shots and veritable buckets of bulk builder. Most of it is so processed it can hardly qualify as food.
And that’s just one aisle. Dieting, health, body image are million dollar industries. We are offered a constant critique of our bodies by marketers who know we know in our deepest hearts that we are nothing until or unless skinny. One particularly appalling ad promises me that I can be my ideal self with a little nip and tuck.
We know, of course we know, that these are empty promises. And we know it’s not true. We know, don’t we know, please God let us know, that our bodies are not US. But what are we to do with the barrage? And how to swallow the skinny-is-everything corollary?
If we are only ideal, or happy, or us when we are thin, then what are we when and if we are not cover models? And just who gets to decide what is skinny or fat, healthy or unhealthy? (It certainly isn’t me.) We get much too much help from media. The cover of every magazine at the checkout stand features boobs and abs and “perfection” along with a recipe for the best cake ever AND a 7 day diet guaranteed to drop 45 pounds in day.
If the endgame is to look like that model or this movie star, if we tell ourselves that when we reach our goal weight we will be happy and perfect and life with finally shift in our favor, we are drinking some pretty awful Kool-Aid. Many people start a weight loss journey and proclaim victory when they shimmy into those twenty year old jeans. And this is good: hitting a goal is usually worth celebrating.
When we hang so many hopes on one thing, one arbitrary, deeply powerful thing, expecting untold happiness from attaining the holy grail of physical perfection, we will be disappointed. Our bodies may look different, we may feel like we look amazing. But it won’t change our circumstances. It won’t make someone love us better or our families not be weird. Being skinny will not make us also rich or flawless.
Being skinny is not everything.