New Years Fatphobia
TW - ED, Fatphobia, Diet Culture
Early January can be a tricky time when you’re fat. You’ve just made it through the Christmas period, with its strong possibility of family members commenting on your weight or the festive food you’re eating. You’ve run the gauntlet of the huge emphasis on food that comes at that time of year, which can be particularly difficult for fat people who deal with binge eating disorder, bulimia, or anorexia (yes, fat people can be anorexic, because anorexia is an illness, not a number on a scale). And now you’re through to January, with everyone around you and every media outlet talking about their new year’s resolutions - and, for so many of those people, their resolution boils down to “I’m going to make sure I never look like you.”
I’m a strong believer in bodily autonomy, and if someone decides they want to intentionally lose weight, that decision is none of my business. However, I can’t pretend it doesn’t hurt when someone thinner than me talks about how “they’ve gained a ton over Christmas” or “they need to start being good again now Christmas is over”. Do what you want with your body, but also, please realise how much you’re hurting the fat people in your life when you show such disgust over the possibility that you could look like us.
I used to set weight goals and diet plans as part of my new year’s resolutions, and, like 95% of dieters, I ended up fatter as a result. Between my natural body type, my chronic illnesses (PCOS and insulin resistance don’t lend themselves to weight loss no matter how little you eat, as I learned over several years), and my dieting, I’ve always been fat - and I’ve finally accepted that the issue isn’t with me, but with the fatphobic society that tries to make me hate the body that, despite all I’ve done to it, has continued to carry me through life. While I’m not quite at the point of body positivity yet, I’m doing okay with body neutrality - and I wish that more people would embrace this mindset for their new year’s resolutions.
If I could take back the time I’ve wasted on planning diets and punishing exercise regimens, and instead put that effort into eating intuitively in a way that supports and nourishes my body, exercising in ways that I enjoy, and using my focus and concentration for writing and creating instead of counting calories and spiralling because I ate one piece of chocolate more than I was “allowed”, I would have spent the last few years being a lot more productive - and a lot happier.
This January 2023, I’d love to see a much less fatphobic outlook on new year’s resolutions. I’d love to see exercise promoted as something we do for the fun and joy of it, and food portrayed as morally neutral and sustaining instead of “good” or “bad”, “clean” or “dirty”. I’d love for this to be the year where we finally see thin and fat bodies as nothing more than human body types, instead of portraying one as an achievement and the other as a failure. In 2023, I’m going to ignore the number on the scales, and focus on things that are actually important.
If you feel affected by the issues discussed in this article, or by any other issues surrounding PSH and Women's Rights, please check out our Support Directory.
For more information on PSH and other topics relating to Women's Rights, check out our social media pages.
Cover art by Swati Barde (@growing_designer on IG)
Alice Nuttall is a children’s and webcomic writer who spends her free time reading, knitting, and playing D&D, occasionally all at the same time.