Newsletter editor Lily here.
This week, writer Sarah Miller published one of the best pieces I’ve ever read on the subject of the diet industrial complex. She covers our society’s rampant fatphobia and how many harmful things we say to people about their weight every day, ranging from “you’d look hot if you lost 20 pounds” to “it’d be better for your health for you slimmed down.” She’s also honest about her feelings on the current body positivity movement, which doesn’t necessarily celebrate bodies unless they fit within socially acceptable proportions and mostly transformed conversations around weight into ones about “health” and “wellness,” both thinly veiled codewords for weight. But above all, Miller perfectly describes the feeling of realizing how much time so many people (particularly women) have spent in their lives worrying about their bodies purely from a vanity perspective.
Her last paragraph is especially searing: “There is no happy ending to this part of my story. They got me, and they will never let me go. I will die with my fat-free Cool Whip in one hand and my gym pass in the other and a drawer of size 29 jeans that I will never fit into again. It is fine. Just let me lie here. I beg you, if you can, to go on ahead without me. And if you see them coming, keep running, don’t stop, and don’t turn around. There is no joy life can bring that depends on them catching you.”
The essay struck a chord with many people on the internet, and considering how many threads we have dedicated to body image on Chairman Mom, I think many of you will find it insightful and emotional too. In particular, our subscribers have deep concerns when it comes to not passing their own body image issues onto their children. It’s something that the vast majority of moms I talk to and read about are discussing. In fact, I recently finished pop star Jessica Simpson’s memoir, and she opens the book with a story about how her then-kindergarten-aged daughter came home and said that a girl in school told her that bread was bad. (In! Kindergarten!) I don’t even have kids yet and I’m already worried about how to handle those conversations and behaviors with my future children. That’s what the diet industrial complex has done to us.
I’ve sent Miller’s essay to at least 15 women at this point, and while there’s quite a lot of hopelessness in it around the topic of societal expectations, it was at least nice to feel seen and heard. I get what she’s talking about. Like so many women, I have complex feelings tied up in my physical being. I’m just glad we’re discussing how much further we have to go than it seems on the surface.
Today’s new questions on Chairman Mom:
- We are two months into the year… how are your resolutions coming?
- Help me plan 2 perfect New York days with my 8 year old!