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The New Year has the potential to be a great time for those of us who struggle with mental health. It is a time to clear our minds of last year, make new goals, and look forward to what is ahead of us. The holidays are a season of giving back, being thankful, and appreciating the loved ones who make our lives better. However, staying body positive in the New Year isn’t always easy.
For body positivity, New Year’s Day comes with one unavoidable element: the perpetuation of weight loss.
Turn on a television any time from the beginning of December and throughout January and you are likely to find a multitude of advertisements encouraging you to lose a few pounds, work off holiday treats, or make weight loss your primary goal. It is not uncommon to hear at least one friend, family member, or co-worker make an off-handed comment about “finally joining the gym this year,” or unhealthily swearing off a food group.
For those attempting to achieve a sense of body positivity, this is obviously an unhealthy way to treat your body and live your life.
I am strongly against New Year’s Resolutions in the first place, because they perpetuate the idea you need to wait until a certain day to create a lifestyle you want. Resolutions encourage us to sit tight and stay miserable in one aspect of our lives until a specific date allows us to change.
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But making a resolution specifically about weight loss is particularly harmful.
It encourages the idea that beauty is the most important aspect of a person, creates dangerous eating habits, and forces individuals to listen to a particular diet plan instead of their own bodies.
More so, it can be very triggering for those who have already struggled with their weight and body image.
Hearing constant talk of dieting and weight loss can make the New Year a very stressful time. When constantly bombarded with the idea that weight dictates a person’s worth, it can be difficult to fight harmful and negative thoughts.
To alleviate some of these difficult and frustrating moments, here are three ways to combat weight loss resolutions:
1. If you are thinking about making this kind of resolution for yourself, don’t.
This seems fairly self-explanatory, but if you are making any goals about your body this year, I hope your resolution is about loving it. When you love your body, you will give it what it needs. If you are feeling pressured to make a resolution of this sort because of the people around you, remember your body belongs to you and nobody else. Your body is your home; it is not static, but it is there, and it is yours. Never allow someone to take that away from you.
2. When you hear friends and family members making these resolutions, let them know how you feel about it.
You do not need to launch into the science of Health at Every Size, nor do you have to start a speech about how the patriarchy ensures we abide by certain beauty standards. (Unless you really want to, of course!) Simply, if you feel uncomfortable, you have the right to speak up. Let your loved ones know they do not need to change. Explain their value is based on so much more than aesthetics. Be the kind of support person you would want for yourself.
3. When you see an advertisement encouraging this behaviour, talk about it with the people around you.
Education on this issue may just take a small comment about how the weight loss industry perpetuates harmful norms, or a quick explanation of how capitalism is strongly related to beauty standards by selling products to make people feel lesser about their bodies. Again, however you feel comfortable framing the conversation, remember you have the power to speak up.
Let’s make this year about personal growth, well-being, and self-love, not weight loss!
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