Yesterday I revealed the super secret blog project that I’ve been working on with some amazing people – a video response to The Biggest Loser’s Campaign to love yourself only after/because you lose weight. One of the responses that I saw a lot as it got posted around the web was “I’m glad that these people are happy but I’m concerned about their health”.
These people may be well meaning, but here’s the deal with this – my health is none of their business and is not discernible by looking at the size of my body. (Or for some of the serious whackadoodles who tell me all about my health without meeting me – from looking at pictures of me and reading my blog.)
This can be difficult to deal with because, since people seem well intentioned, we can feel obligated to appreciate what they are doing or accept it as ok. Like everything, it’s your choice how to deal with it, but for me this is not ok. People are allowed to be concerned about whatever they want, but it is not ok to unburden that concern onto me. Whatever my level of health, it’s highly unlikely that it will be improved by having people tell me over and over that they assume it’s poor. It can also be a quiet way to try to say that I am not a competent witness to my own experience, and let’s not forget that however well-intentioned it might be, this kind of “concern” is based on all kinds of myths, misunderstandings, and misinformation and conflates weight and health in a way that is not appropriate.
There are lots of reasons that people may choose to express their concern. There are some who are truly well-meaning, for others it’s about feeling superior, feeding their ego, or just killing fatties with kindness. It does not matter why someone does it, it does not fit within what I consider acceptable behavior. The way that I handle this with people I care about is by setting boundaries. Of course this is just how I handle it, there are many, many ways and they are all valid. Take what you like, ignore the rest:
“I’m just concerned about your health”
- Oh, no need, my health is fine.
- My health is great, thank you, and I’m not soliciting outside opinions.
- My health is none of your business.
Data based responses, especially good for a teachable moment:
- According to research out of Columbia, people who are concerned about their weight have more physical and mental illness than those who aren’t – regardless of weight. So every time you try to make me concerned about my weight you may be putting my health in jeopardy.
- Can you tell me how you justify your beliefs based on the findings of Matheson et al., Wei et. al, the Cooper Institute Longitudinal studies, and Mann and Tomiyama 2007 and 2013?
- Are you aware that there isn’t a single study in which more than a tiny fraction of people succeed at longterm weight loss and that there isn’t a st single study where dieting is shown to lead to better long term health?
- The most likely outcome of weight loss attempts is weight regain, so even if you believe that fat is bad, weight loss attempts are the worst thing that you could recommend.
The things I think but do not say when I’m having a bad day:
- My path to health is something that I’ve spent hundreds of hours researching – are you an expert on this or can we just assume I know more than you about this than you do?
- Really? Coincidentally, I’m concerned that all of your worrying will affect your health. Please feel free focus your concern somewhere that is else.
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