Stop it society, just stop! Stop telling your friends that they look great because they lost ten pounds or appear slimmer in those pants. Stop asking that woman when her baby is due (FYI--she might not even be pregnant) or assuming that an Instagram photo of a celebrity has been photoshopped to appease the masses. Who the f*** cares what a person weighs and whether or not they’ve gained/lost weight recently? Why does society place such enormous emphasis on a person's value because of their weight?
Now, this blog intro may seem dramatic, but it’s a point that needs to be said. Shouted from the rooftops even! Commenting on a person’s weight is downright demoralizing and devastating for many. Whether a comment about weight is intended in a positive light or mentioned in malice, we (society) have no right to comment on any person’s body.
At Sustain Bariatric Nutrition, our team has spent a number of years working with individuals that seek bariatric surgery for weight management. The specific reasons for achieving weight loss vary considerably from person to person, but similar objectives are common. Generally, many of our past clients have mentioned that they would like to lose weight to improve their health or quality of life.
However, it’s important to mention that weight loss does not always improve health or quality of life, and also it’s worth noting that somebody can pursue improvements in health regardless of their weight. Not only that, in our experience working with people, weight loss often does not lead to improvements in self-esteem and body image. For others, the pursuit of weight loss can present some devastating consequences when it comes to disordered eating or exercise behaviours. The mere discussion of weight can be triggering for some and send a person on a downward spiral with their mental health and self-worth.
Society can be awful when it comes to weight commenting, but the medical profession is not always better. Our team at Sustain Bariatric Nutrition can’t even begin to describe how often we hear a client discuss being ‘successful’ with weight loss, but told that they are still too big to qualify for knee replacement surgery or cosmetic surgery for excess skin removal. The number of individuals being dismissed about their active health issues when speaking with a healthcare provider and being told to ‘lose weight’ as the ultimate goal for improving that specific concern or problem is a serious issue in our view.
Even when complimenting an individual on weight loss, those words can cut deep. Who are we to say that a person is better off with weight loss? What we need to recognize is that behind closed doors, that person may be dealing with a massive internal struggle impacting their health, wellness, and overall life view. Maybe that person is fighting an eating disorder. Maybe that person is happy with their weight regardless of what they weigh. Suggesting weight loss as a positive change can be viewed as a slap in the face by many (think about it, complimenting weight loss just emphasizes that a person’s previous frame was subpar). Here’s a thought...maybe we need to stop pointing out weight loss and glorifying it as a personal ‘achievement’ or improvement in general.
You might be reading this blog post and thinking, “but doesn’t Sustain Bariatric Nutrition support weight management?”. That’s a tough question to answer. We know that nobody has 100% control over their weight and we understand the detrimental impact of weight comments. Instead, we choose to approach weight management from a focus on sustainable behaviour change. If realistic behaviour modification lends to improvements in health, quality of life, or overall well-being, we are totally on board. If weight loss occurs as a result of this behaviour change, so be it.
The bottom line is, you are valued and worthwhile regardless of the number on the scale. Don’t let weight comments weigh you down.
Trying to help take that weight off your shoulders,
Adam, Sarah, and Stephanie