CW: Eating disorder.
The winter months can be a bit of a mood dampener. It’s dark and cold, and due to the pandemic, we’re likely to spend a little more time indoors and not moving than we might usually. After a year when we’ve literally been surviving (if not thriving), the last thing I want to see this January is diet talk, advertisements for detoxing after Christmas, and ‘burning off those Christmas calories’.
Personally, my current attitude is, so what if you gain a bit of weight? You’ve been living through a global pandemic. The festive period, whilst different to what we have been used to, is a time to be enjoyed. Food is to be enjoyed, to give you fuel, and to share with loved ones (whether that’s over Zoom this year instead!) and these things don’t need to be undone or burnt off or regretted. It’s not ‘naughty’ to eat a bit of cake or drink some extra wine.
As someone who’s suffered from an eating disorder, my relationship with my body has been hard, to say the least. For several years, my mind revolved around my body image, what people thought of when they looked at me, and my weight. Over the past three years I have done a lot of work to get to the place I am in currently, where, although I may not love my body or the way I look, I’m neutral to it. Every January, I see an influx of diet and gym advertisements, or people signing up for weight-loss programmes or shouting about ‘cutting the carbs’, and often people don’t realise these can affect those already vulnerable by causing further damage or set someone off on a path of toxic diet culture.
A ‘detox’ is not necessary; your liver and kidneys do this for you every single day. A new year shouldn’t have to mean a ‘new you’ if the current you was just fine – great, even. The time spent committing to these kinds of restrictions can be so much better spent – taking up a new hobby, like learning to cook or bake, or learning a new language, or maybe even practising a bit of self-love. This isn’t to say that cooking healthy foods and exercising is bad, but these things should be done for a healthier lifestyle and to bring balance and enjoyment to your life, not as a punishment.
A reoccurring trend I’ve seen across social media in 2020 was ‘body image neutrality.’ Since we’ve spent most of our time in lockdown, and limiting our social interaction, many of us have become indifferent to what we look like. That’s not to say that we don’t care about our appearance or have stopped making an effort, but more so that it has become less of a priority and necessity day-to-day. During a year where there had been so many other things to think of or be concerned with, the way we perceived our bodies and our appearance had become less important. As we see less of the outside world, there is less of the presumed judgment from other people, thus causing us to feel somewhat indifferent. For me, it means there is less to worry about and has had a positive impact on my body image as a whole. I worry less about what I wear, what I look like without make-up, and what I’m wearing for a Zoom call. Plus, the time I spent in the past excessively working out, counting calories, putting on make-up or scrutinising my appearance can now be spent doing something that brings me joy.
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that there are more important things than some weight gain. As we move into a new year, when hopefully there will be a chance for social interactions again, and often those that centre on food as restaurants will hopefully reopen when it’s safe to do so, it’s not a time to be restrictive.
If there’s anything I want you to take away from this post, it’s that ‘it is okay to gain weight’. It’s normal for our bodies to do so. It is important to talk about weight and discuss your struggles or insecurities. Weighing more does not make your self-worth less, nor does it make those around you love you more or less. As we embark on a New Year, one of my resolutions is to care less about what people think of me and also to practise more self-care and more self-love. My body has got me through a global pandemic and has kept me fit and healthy to do the things I enjoy; it deserves a little loving.
Image courtesy of Nicolas LB.