No. I DON’T give a shit about your “Weight Loss Diary”. Let me explain…

Diet Diary courtesy of Flickr User sushi♥ina

Beauty is not defined by the size of your jeans..

It seems with the warm weather waxing into full summer swing up here in the Northeast that I’ve been inundated with friends (particularly in Facebook) who are excitedly proclaiming their New Commitment To Dieting Lifestyle Changes or eagerly fishing for compliments by posting about how many ounces/inches/calories they’ve lost that day.

I’ve already “hidden” posts on my news feed from folks who seem to think that a running litany of everything they ate/didn’t eat wanted to eat/didn’t want to eat or weight they lost/gained inexplicably was the utmost in fascinating conversation.  Even the comments posted ON those posts by other “friends” or even those people’s siblings deserve a bit of head-shaking sadness.

Yesterday this passive-aggressive “Do what you want, it IS your life/body but I don’t have to watch…. and you’ll never know that! *Hide!*” response was not possible when a woman actively messaged me to ask why I hadn’t joined (or “liked”?  I’m not sure which) the page she’d set up to log all her Weight Loss Adventures.  I haven’t responded because I hate being confrontational but I’m wondering if I should and if so, what to write.

I’m very active (to the level I’m able depending on how many classes I’m taking and how intense the workload is) in the FA blog sphere (For 2 years now even!  Happy Blog-iversary to me!).  I often LINK to my own thoughts or those of others on the Fat and Size acceptance circuits in my own Facebook comments.

Stomach with Riots Not Diets painted on it courtesy of Flickr user Gaelx

Here is where MY mind sits on diets

Yet still, this woman who is dealing with her own body image issues and health issues (which, as we know, get so very quickly and easily wrapped up together in an inseparable knot of pain and frustration), felt that pointing out I hadn’t joined the bandwagon on her own “Yay!  I’m CHANGING!  My Body!” bandwagon of support was the way to proceed with me.

Now I’m torn.  Part of me wonders if this action was actually a small cry for help; a plea for me to actually respond politely and explain WHY I refuse to join and support this group; perhaps in doing so validating her desire NOT to do this Life Change crap.  My own reasons have a lot to do with not supporting dieting for losing weight for the Get Healthy goal.  But I’ve discovered after thinking last night and again this morning: I also just don’t want to get sucked into that mindset again.

In a bent of self-preservation I have been avoiding mentions of active dieting/dieters (which is really difficult if you have to put away the new “Woman’s World” magazines in a library) because I fear falling into those old habits of self-hatred inspired calorie restriction insanity.  I’m a pretty impulsive woman as far as how quickly I can make up my mind to do or not do something.  A bad downfall to this though is that it often means that a good argument for/against something can sway my own opinion far more easily than I think it would, if I were somewhat more slow-paced in my decision-making processes.  Reading about the latest/greatest “Three Month Calorie Burn, Lose 100’s of Pounds” or “Fat Redux in just Two Weeks of Painful Poo-ing” or even “How Lifestyle Changes Made me Happy Thinner” end up having this unerringly distinct ability to tug at the corners of my well-constructed defensive mechanisms against pervasive marketing strategies.

And then I end up feeling shitty about my own body. Which is completely the opposite of what SHE’S trying to do for herself: you know, feel better about herself and her life/body (even if it is by means dictated by the society around her which constantly pressures anyone fat to feel that All Would Be Better (in some magical Unicorns Shit Rainbows for your Breakfast sort of way) if they were thinner).

So if I do end up explaining why I refuse to join/like/be a part of this woman’s diet journalism I feel that it will come off as extremely self-serving; a bunch of whining about how HER decision to diet is making ME feel bad about myself.  But part of me doesn’t care because a lot of feeling good about myself and learning to love who I am, in the Shell of Life that I ALREADY inhabit, has required copious amounts of editing out those parts of the world around me.  A world which tries to constantly push me into the tiny niche my social environment has deemed appropriate for a huge woman (you know, that tiny niche of Self Flagellation for the Way I Am cycled against Hopeful Dieting Lifestyle Changes to Become Who I Should Be (ie: thin, taking up minimal space, quiet, calm, poised, a Better Me… in a tiny package which is pretty, sexually appealing to the male gaze and unthreatening to those around me). I refuse to get caught up in that crap again.

I mean, a huge part of why I’ve never done a week (or month) of photo blogging my eating habits to “prove” that I eat very much the same as someone thinner, has to do with the fact that doing so would also spiral me into the same mental tizzy that calorie counting did. You know, that mental space where food becomes an all-consuming pre-occupation; when knowing how many crumbs or bites you are “allowed” becomes more important than any other thought; when food is no long a sustaining or even minutely pleasurable concept and instead becomes the Enemy of My People or, in other words: my Body.

That’s not a mental space I ever wish to inhabit again.  As my husband has often pointed out: Non-dieting April is a HAPPY April.  And I like that.

So that’s why I have no interest in hearing about others’ weight loss successes/struggles.  Is it rude to not want to partake in something that does become such an overwhelming part of people’s lives?  Perhaps.  But just as no one has to read here to find out my views on how destructive dieting is to your mind and body, on how playing the role of the Dieting Fatty further perpetuates the idea that we have to somehow EARN the right to live our own lives, I should have the option to not be inundated with someone’s self-abusing revamp of their own dieting process, right?

Again, a large part of me doesn’t care even if such a response is rude because my own mental health is dependent on keeping these sorts messages about negative body image OUT of my life in order to find that stability of self-image and balance of life that I’ve been creating for myself for over 2 years now.

So I’m unsure at this point how to respond.  Do I just ignore the blatant note as I did the original group/page invite request?  Do I respond with a few key phrases indicating why I won’t be watching her dieting journey?  Do I inundate my own page with further links and posts about how destructive such cycles of hatred and body-crushing eating and living habits can be?  Or is there some other option out there that I’m missing?  Does it make me some sort of jack-ass to not support people in what I consider to be another foolish attempt to do something that will only end again in heartache and frustration?? I’m sure to some it would be like actively not supporting someone’s efforts to quit smoking; but then again that assumes the constantly continued and ever more often challenged (though not by the media or weight loss companies, even when the studies are right there) belief that Fat and Fitness are forever and unchallengeable in their inverse relationship.

I refuse to apologize for being happy with who I am.  But should I apologize for not wanting to be happy with who she is/wants to be?  After all, we’re both adults, working to live and make peace with the world around us….

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20 thoughts on “No. I DON’T give a shit about your “Weight Loss Diary”. Let me explain…

  1. First let’s deal with the etiquette of the situation.

    No, it is not rude to decide not to join a group simply because you have been asked to do so. You are allowed to accept or decline any invitation made to you for whatever reasons you choose.

    If there has been any etiquette violation, it would be hers for wanting you to explain why have chosen not to follow her journey. Again this is IF it is an etiquette violation. It may be that she simply hoped that a hint would change your mind and you would join.

    Unfortunately, it’s not terribly polite to ignore a direct question, so some sort of answer is probably required.

    The good news is that etiquette does not demand that you explain every aspect of your thinking. It’s perfectly polite (and Miss Manners will back me up here) to say ‘thanks for asking, but I’m afraid I simply can’t right now.’ You don’t need to say that ‘right now’ continues until Hell freezes over or enumerate the reasons why you can’t accept her offer.

    If she continues to push, it’s up to you whether to just keep reiterating that you will not be joining, though you thank her for thinking of you, or whether you want to ‘come out’ to her as an FA activist who prefers not to follow anyone’s diet journey.

    In short, wish her luck on her journey to becoming happier with herself by whatever means she chooses, but let her know firmly that you won’t be along for this part of the ride.

    That’s how etiquette handles the situation.

    As for an FA answer, I think a lot of it depends on whether you think this might be a teachable moment or not. If you think confronting her choice to tell the world in sordid detail about her dieting is going to make her question common wisdom, then feel free to have at it. If you think she will only get mad at you and dig her heels further into the dieting trenches, it’s probably best to stick with etiquette over activism.

    In the longrun, it’s your call what to do. The good news is that you have not been rude by simply not joining a group you feel will be mentally and emotionally toxic to you. It’s okay to refuse to participate for whatever reason you may have.

    • Wow Twistie I love that; thanks so much for bringing up the etiquette bits. @ncp and CTJen I have the feeling that this is not as teachable a moment as it might be if she wasn’t in the happy glow from the first weeks of Making a Change. So I think for a response I will go the etiquette route and continue to post links to my blog as my own “offensive” for all those who haven’t blocked me from their own lists for my subversive thoughts! 😉

  2. yes, what NCP said. Also a link to the FoBT post by Ms. Harding. Failing that, just say “No thank you, but good luck!” and leave it at that.

    Oh, Facebook and your passive aggressive bullshit. *sigh*

  3. You absolutely have the right to live the life you want, and to ignore the people who you do not want to associate with. You need no explanations for your refusal to join or like anything on FB.

    I get asked to join or like crap all the time which I personally don’t give a rat’s ass about, and I just ignore it. I think the only reason you are so worked up about this is that it is touching a nerve, and the mixed messages throughout your post here betray the fact that you don’t have the stability of self-image that you want. Read through what you’re saying as if it were written by someone else and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

    If you had confidence in your self-image or acceptance, you’d just blow all of this off, but these people are getting to you. That’s not a criticism, so I hope you don’t regard it as one. I think this is a message to yourself to regard this as a learning experience and to consider the effectiveness of your choices in terms of how they make you embrace and love yourself as you are. They clearly are not very sound as you are offering justifications for how you live your life. If you truly accepted yourself, you would feel a compulsion to justify anything.

    You say you don’t care about someone’s weight loss, but then explain that you isolate yourself from widespread societal messages about weight loss. This clearly shows that you care, perhaps quite a lot. Self-acceptance cannot come from living in a bubble or shutting out any dissenting opinions or voices. It comes from not assigning weight or value to those opinions or voices because you are solid in your own self-assessment and choices. You clearly still give them too much value and battle back against your own impulses by attacking their choices as those which are inspired by media manipulation. This is a classic ‘I feel attacked so I’m fighting back’ response. They didn’t attack you by inviting you, but you’re deriding them the way you expect them to do to you.

    You say you refuse to apologize for being happy with who you are, but you don’t sound happy. You sound angry and defensive. Again, this is not a criticism. I’m an angry and defensive fat person, too. Most of us are, but I’m not claiming that I’m happy with who I am and practicing self-acceptance.

    Just food for thought.

    • @screaming: I appreciate you pulling out some things to think about. I disagree that because I have conflicting and strong thoughts on the idea of weight loss that it means I am entirely not capable of being happy or self-accepting. I don’t feel that self-acceptance doesn’t benefit from removing poisonous people or influences from my life (such as tv ads or magazines bent on showcasing how Wondrous it is to be Thin(ner)). That said it is very valid to point out that my nerve-pricked irritation on this topic does indicate that such things DO bother me. Perhaps what bothers me most is that my own desire to respond and proselytize about how great it is to NOT diet, comes off as just as inane to others as dieting blather does now to ME.

      As Twistie just said, that desire to avoid being told to “lighten up” is a large part of why I DO hang back and not say anything and just silently ignore stuff…but part of activism is NOT being silent, right? Of not letting things like that pass by forever as opportunities to educate that are lost forever.

      Also, as much as I can try to “isolate myself from societal messages to lose weight” be honest Screaming Fat Girl, how possible do you think it is to fully bubble one’s self off from any and all of the incredibly pervasive “Lose Weight! Now!” messages?

      I AM conflicted on why this makes me so angry and why my frustrations on how to respond are being given more thought than would be given to ignoring any other request from silly Facebook. But self-acceptance isn’t some sort of “religion” that I try to “practice”. Being happy isn’t a constant state of euphoria with not a single moment of self-doubt; they are both paths/journeys. There are bumps along the way; this is one of them. But again I don’t think that you can’t claim to be happy AND self-accepting just because you have moments when you stop to re-evaluate your own thoughts and feelings and where you are along that path, you know?

  4. As a follow-up, the main reason I would love to see her get a copy of the post is the detail in which you describe your conundrum, and just how much of an impact her seemingly innocent request for cheerleaders has on your own mental health.

    I think it’s good to make people aware of these things (although often it will only result in defensiveness and telling you to “lighten up” – argh.

    So, perhaps discretion IS the better part of valor in this case, but I still wish people could read posts like this to see how their random “I lost X lbs / inches!” posts can impact other people.

  5. I would give a simple and to-the-point answer. “Nothing against you, and I hope this goes well for you–I just don’t like diet talk.”

    It’s annoying how pervasive this stuff is, I totally sympathize.

  6. I like KellyK’s answer, or just say “I wish you all the best, but I just don’t find that kind of thing interesting.”

  7. I’d respond honestly, but there’s not need to give her a dissertation.

    I’d say something along the lines of I’m very pleased for her that she seems to be doing something that makes her happy and positive, but it’s just not a subject that interests me. If you want to be a bit nicer, say your reading time is limited, so you only “like” (or select, or whatever) a very small number of things on Facebook. Wish her luck, and leave it there.

    If she wants to throw a hissy fit, NOT. YOUR. PROBLEM.

    • As an update, the ““Nothing against you, and I hope this goes well for you–I just don’t like diet talk.”” went over swimmingly and we’re both happy, smiling (via emoticon) and on with our lives. I think as Screaming Fat Girl brought up, I do seem to build things up in ways that may point to some insecurities which linger in my own psyche! 🙂 Or I’m just habitually worried that people will freak out on me for saying politely how I feel. Turns out, the world at large is filled with vastly higher quantities of great people than I give it credit for holding!! 🙂

  8. I sometimes think that some of us almost have PTSD from diets that haven’t worked out. Because it’s so HEALTHY to have your doctor/mother/teacher insist that you’re lying because you haven’t lost weight and therefore can’t have stuck with the diet, or to be guilt-tripped over how you will ABSOLUTELY get diabetes if you don’t lose weight, and so on…

    There’s a reason I tend to regard diet shillers the way I do people who call my dad and tell him he’s won $5 million dollars and all I have to do is send them $3000 for taxes — aka, lying asshole scammers who want to separate the gullible from their money….

    But, y’know, not everyone who goes to Vegas ends up bankrupt and feeling scammed. Not everyone who drinks is an alcoholic. And, yes, not everyone has been burned/cheated by diets.

  9. I’ve been lucky on Facebook so far, I’ve only had one person talk about starting a diet at the beginning of the summer (one of my husband’s ex-wife’s sisters). I didn’t “like” the comment, nor did I comment on it, but my blog is linked to my page on FB, I’m friends with Atchka so his comments show up a lot, I’m also friends with Marilyn Wann, so her comments show up a lot (and those I do “like” and comment on, usually), and I post a lot of fat-friendly stuff to my FB page. So, other than the one diet comment the relative made, there haven’t been any more, and no one else has made any diet comments that I am able to see (which is fine with me).
    My whole take on dieting is that it’s something I no longer do as it doesn’t work for me, it’s only made me fatter in the long run. As for other people – if they want to diet, fine, but I don’t want to hear about it and I won’t be their cheerleader (not my body, not my choice what to do with it, but it is my choice what to do with my support and I refuse to support dieting for weight loss as the way to get healthy).

  10. Living 400lbs, I so agree with you about the Diet PTSD! Therefore, just talking about it with other people can trigger it. Brilliant.

    I have one friend that is amazed by her dieting success, and I had to walk away from her at a party because she kept repeating herself about it.

    My slightly aggressive statement, if I feel like saying it, is, “Dieting has made me fatter, so I don’t diet any more.” As if they’ll look at me and make the connection for themselves, but knowing that the diet frenzied are completely self-focused.

    The way I console myself when I lose friends to diet frenzy is knowing that within a few months, they will be utterly silent about it due to their “failure”.

    *my first post here, hello!

  11. Pingback: Big Fat Deal » Fatbook: A Thursday Links Roundup

  12. I’d recommend just saying what you’ve said here, albiet watered down. Just say you don’t want to read about what she’s doing because it affects you, and if she’s any kind of friend she’ll understand.

    Easier said than done though, I’ll admit. I still struggle with “NO. I DON’T WANT TO HEAR THIS. GO AWAY.”

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