The war on obesity? The things filling our news pages, our twitter feeds, our government messages at the moment.
I could go into the complexity of obesity, but honestly I don’t know enough about it (seemingly neither do the government). I could go into the reasons why people become obese rather than the implicated and outright messages that it’s somehow laziness or over indulgence. But I want to write rather about the war that people with eating disorders face every day, but especially in this time of judgement of weight gain and having body fat.
I would say it’s just this time, but we live in a society that prioritises thinness over health. We have to face messages that seem to reinforce the messages that our brain tell us, that somehow putting on weight is always a negative thing, that the right to eat should be earned, that eating “junk food” is bad.
A wise person I once met stressed to me the importance of food being independent of morality – that foods were not bad and good, they did not make us naughty or clean, but the government has missed this time and time again. To suggest that we might save the NHS by losing weight is ridiculous. To suggest we might be doing good for others by reducing the space we take up, is a ridiculous notion, but one that plays right into the hands, minds and plates of those with eating disorders.
We live in a society that mostly suggests body positivity is reserved for those that occupy smaller bodies. I have occupied a tiny body and a larger one now. I have taken up more space recently, maybe more than society would like me too, but I won’t listen to the barrage of negativity that this news cycle brings. I will listen to my happiness. I will listen to my health. I will listen to myself. I am happy, I am healthy and I may occupy more space than I did, but that space gives me flexibility to enjoy ice creams with my boyfriend, or brunch with my friends, or tuesday vegan feasts.
This society celebrates disordered eating, excessive exercise, being underweight. This society inadvertently celebrates anorexia behaviours. I see endless adverts for weight loss programmes and tips that sound just like symptoms I had. This society hasn’t given me room to grow but I have anyway. This government wants you to feel guilty for taking up the space that you deserve. Weight gain and fat are not evil – they are necessary sometimes and always respectively.
You are a good person, regardless of how you nourish yourself, how much body fat you have, how you use the NHS. You are a good person because of your love, care and understanding, not your silhouette.