Many people I know are losing weight recently, and that’s great, I’m absolutely happy for them. The majority of them are doing it the right way–watching what they eat, exercising, having a more healthy lifestyle in general. No fad diets, no starving themselves. I’m proud of them.
But a tweet from a friend today made me wonder. She posted before and after pictures of herself and said ‘I genuinely didn’t see it until today when those pictures got posted’.
I look at the images. The before image–she was a little more hunched over, sheepish fake smile that says ‘oh god, please don’t take my picture’, kind of squishing herself against her friend so less of her would be seen. The after image? She’s in a sleeveless dress, looking fabulous, standing up straight, posing for the camera.
She’s lost a significant amount of weight, it’s true. But it’s not the first thing I noticed. The first thing I noticed was the total 180 in her confidence level. It really made me think.
I notice the same thing with Sara Rue’s Jenny Craig campaign. Obviously you’d have to be blind not to see that she’s lost a lot of weight, but the pictures themselves speak worlds. The first picture–demure smile, casual pose, a lot more clothing–compared to the second, ‘sexy’ pose. It says to me ‘look, I can be attractive now and not offensive to the eye! I don’t have to cover up anymore!’
And then there’s women like Jennifer Hudson, who speak for years about how much they adore their curves–and the next thing you know, they’re the spokesperson for Weight Watchers.
I have to wonder. . .what happens when the cameras shut off? When they stop buying the sodium-filled Jenny Craig meals, when they don’t have a personal trainer anymore. If and when some or all of the weight comes back, are they still going to love themselves?
The trick is not so much to change your body in order to increase your confidence. The trick is to concentrate on how your body FEELS, not how it looks. As long as you feel healthy, as long as you’re giving your body the nourishment and exercise and care that it needs, your dress size should not be of importance. The number on the scale should not mock you every day. This is not to discount the new and exciting things you discover that you can do when you lose weight. It’s to make you look at the things you already CAN do now!
And frankly–confidence has nothing to do with your weight. I’ve had quite a few people tell me recently that I’ve lost weight. Honestly, I don’t think I have, and if I have, it’s been absolutely minimal. I think what changed is my perception of my own body and therefore the way I come off to other people. I used to wear things to cover up everything, always thinking ‘will this top cover this fat roll?’ ‘will these pants make my legs looks even more like tree trunks?’ ‘do i have something i can wear to cover my upper arms?’ I would do photoshoots with my best friend and it would hardly even be fun because I was so busy concentrating on flattering angles and close ups and making sure that under NO circumstances would there be a full body shot.
Clearly, I don’t care very much anymore. And while I’ve changed my eating habits and I’ve become more active and less of a zombie, it’s more that I feel much more comfortable in my own skin than I ever have before. I don’t think that any diet can do that. It’s something you have to do for yourself.
I worry for people who lose weight sometimes, because they let it take over their entire existence and let their new body define who they are. And I’m fearful that if they so much as gain five pounds, they’ll consider all their hard work a failure and go right back to self loathing. Then it turns into yo-yo dieting, and then it becomes an obsession, and it’s just a bad road to go down.
You have to, have to, HAVE to learn to love yourself because things happen, weight is lost, weights is gained, bodies change, but in the end, it does not define you.
The way you present yourself to the world is what defines you. So the next time you think you have to cover up your flabby upper arms so as not to offend society, instead wear a tank top and just say ‘So what? I am FABULOUS’.