Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I'm a feminist, but I'm on a diet

*Trigger warning for topics of diet and weight loss*

Since August 1st, I've been on a diet. Yes, I know that is basically a feminist 101 no-no, dieting and talking about it on the internet. But you'll have to deal with it for at least this one little post.

I try not to talk about my diet much, because I'm sensitive to the fact that people are triggered by topics of eating, dieting, and weight loss. However, I do want people to know that I'm not dieting because I'm unhappy with myself. I am very much a fat positive person and I love the way my body looks. I have been fat my whole life and it has become part of who I am. I am fine with that. However, I have some health reasons that need to be addressed.

The first is that I've been gaining weight over the last year at a rapid speed and while there is nothing inherently wrong with that, it has caused some side issues for me. The first is that I am tired all of the time and have little motivation, which affects my productivity at home and at work, in addition to my mental health. I don't want to clean my house, I don't want to do anything but sit down and play video games or watch TV. It's a real problem for me, because I am normally an active person who loves to be going out and doing things constantly. When I am lighter and exercising more, I feel better mentally. That's of course, just me. I don't believe that being fat necessarily comes with mental health issues.

The other thing is that I have plantar fasciitis, and it gets worse the heavier I get. I know that the more weight my feet have to bear, the more it hurts when I walk in the morning or when I try to walk to the train. It makes it so I can't wear any of the shoes I like to wear. It's rather debilitating, in fact. I know that not every health problem can be attributed to weight, I believe in health at every size. However I do know that is the way it works for me. It has cut into the things I want to do in the past.

The other fact is that my clothes are no longer fitting me. I only have one or two pairs of pants that fit me, and most of my shirts aren't fitting me anymore. I really can't afford to go out and buy a new wardrobe when I have tons of expensive clothes already that I don't fit into. Some people choose to lose weight for financial reasons.

I definitely believe in a woman's right to choose what is good for her. I don't necessarily think that wanting to lose weight automatically means that someone is not happy with themselves. I feel that feminism as a movement has moved away from topics of eating and weight loss but has abandoned the idea of 'choice'. It's now taboo for feminists to want to lose weight, and any articles about losing weight are deemed anti-feminist. I don't believe in that. I definitely don't believe in fat shaming and body snarking, but I think there is nothing wrong with someone wanting to cut back on sugar, only eat raw/natural food, stop eating meat, start eating meat, stop drinking caffeine and soda, track their calories, etc.

I think part of having a healthy relationship with your body is knowing what you put inside it. Many people avoid topics of food and nutrition because every article out there is like "this is bad for you, that is bad for you". I don't want someone telling me what I should and should not eat. However, I do like to know what the things I'm eating are made of. I like having the knowledge, even if I choose to ignore it. I like knowing how my body is breaking down the various types of food I ingest. Other people might not, but I certainly do. I don't think I'm being anti-feminist by changing up my food choices.

How have you personally dealt with the feminist backlash while you were trying to lose weight?


  1. Thanks for the thoughtful post. I personally struggle with my own body image, and am always butting heads with myself when it comes to these issues... I consider myself a feminist, so I feel like I shouldn't be so paranoid about how I look, but then again I have low self-esteem... It's just a vicious cycle for me. But regarding your last question, I think it's more of an internal thing, for me at least, rather than feeling a feminist blacklash from other people.

    Then again, I don't really do "dieting," even if I change my eating habits slightly as you said to include less sugar or eat more fresh produce, I don't really consider that the same as going on a cranberry juice cleanse or what have you. It's just tweaking your lifestyle choices, and no one should give you a hard time about that. We change and adapt in all sorts of ways every day.

  2. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for this post. I am always nervous when this subject comes up on a feminist friendly site, for all the reasons you state. And it's important that you wrote this. Thank you thank you thank you.