Glorifying weight loss isn’t cute, it’s toxic: Changing the way we let the internet affect our body image


Enzo Rovito

A gentle reminder that no matter how you think you look, your body is wonderful.

Body shaming— an idea that is far from being a new phenomenon. Throughout history, the media has bombarded the public with images of the ideal body. Models with hourglass figures parade on TV screens and all over our socials, but in the past few months the whole world has had to spend time with ourselves and digest our feelings about how we look.

For years fad diets have come in and out of fashion, whether it be the ever-popular Keto diet where carbs are a big no, or using products to either suppress hunger or flush everything out, literally. This summer of quarantine was no exception. In order to get the best summer body without being able to go to the gym, many people resorted to these arguably unhealthy diets and posted their weight loss journeys online.

“What’s your secret?” is the comment that I dread the most. To glorify weight loss for looks instead of weight loss for health is to perpetuate an incredibly harmful culture of fatphobia. People who were losing weight in unhealthy ways were met with these encouraging comments, while people who were taking their time to learn what their body needed to succeed were met with hostility.

Ryan Beard, a TikTok comedian, has shared an incredible monthly update on his health. He is an inspiration for what healthy weight loss is and what the culture surrounding it should be. The start of his journey opened my eyes to a hard fact: society only wants to see people succeed when they are what we deem to be pretty.

Beard was very transparent about his looks at the beginning. He showed his stretch marks, rolls and everything else influencers are too scared to share with their viewers, and he was hit with thousands of comments berating him, even though he was trying to become a healthier person. This set the tone for how we saw these health journeys in quarantine.

We loved to see skinny people following the Chloe Ting workout regimen, but when overweight people share how far they’ve come during this break? Well, that obviously proved to be too much for the general public. Comment sections were filled with hate and people yelling that they still weren’t skinny enough, but we have to realize that skinny does not equal healthy, and our body weight is nowhere near the defining factor of our personal health.

I believe that this summer will go down in history for the monumental movements that are shaking not only the nation, but the world. The fight against body shaming also created waves. While it is not a new organization, the I Weigh movement gained a lot of traction.

Run by “Feminist-in-progress” and comedian Jameela Jamil, best known for her role as Tahani Al-Jamil in “The Good Place,” I Weigh is not only a movement but a completely new mindset. The idea behind it is to replace the number you see on your scale with what makes you yourself. For example: I weigh humor, compassion and a love for all things pink, not some silly amount of pounds that at the end of the day mean nothing.

The I Weigh movement gives us a perfect example of the outlook we should all have on health. They advocate for intersectionality, the understanding that even when problems don’t affect us personally, we must still fight alongside others. They also are a huge proponent of the new ideology of body neutrality.

Many people are trying to change the way we look at ourselves through body positivity and replace it with body neutrality. This means taking away all positive or negative connotations we may have in regards to our body image and replacing it with simply being who we are.

“It’s about working towards a place where we respect our bodies,” I Weigh said, “Body neutrality has its foundations in what your body does, not how it looks.”

This is what we forgot in quarantine. We forget that our bodies are incredible. They work to keep us alive, and that is really all that matters. When you get down to it, no matter how you look, love your body because it keeps you here. Those are words we need to remind ourselves of more often.

It’s hard not to get torn down by the constant stream of negativity we get through the media, especially when we have to stay home and the internet is our only vice. It’s important to stay healthy, but it’s more important to listen to your body and block out the negative voices saying you aren’t enough because I am here to say you are perfect when you are yourself.