Awkward Euphemisms for Weight Loss

You Cannot Be SeriousIt will likely come as no surprise to you that selling the idea that we can manipulate our body size is big business – to the tune of over $60 Billion a year for the diet industry.  Of course, when you spend that much money to put out that many ads you have to get a little flowery with the language, and then you get no end to the euphemisms for intentional body size manipulation that we (including me) use all the time. Today I thought I’d take a closer look.

Lose Weight:  Let’s start here, with perhaps the most common term.  For me it conjures an idea of someone wandering around the neighborhood yelling “HEEEEEERE WEIGHT!  COME HERE WEIGHT!  WHERE’S MAMMA’S SWEET LITTLE WEIGHT?!”  hanging up flyers on telephone polls. Most people are able to make their bodies smaller temporarily, though in the long term almost everyone gains the weight back, so maybe “Weight Lost and Found” would be a better term.

Shedding Pounds:  This sounds like I’m going to find tiny bits of fat stuck to my furniture and clothes, like we need to develop a “pounds roller,” cousin to the lint roller.  I’m sure if the diet industry thought they could make money off of it they would make it, even if it’s not necessary or effective.

Reducing: I feel like they are going to put me in a sauce pan and simmer me until I’m half my original volume.

Diet:  In the good old days this just meant the food that someone ate.  Now it is a word loaded with meaning and connotation, made compound with terms like Paleo, Viking, and South Beach, and used to bore one’s dining companions and/or try to establish someone’s moral superiority through a big performance about their mastication.

Getting Fit:  This is just wrong.  Fitness is about conditioning the body for movement in one or more of four aspects – strength, stamina, flexibility and technique.  Nobody is obligated to participate in movement of any time, but the conflation of weight loss/body size with fitness is an unholy marriage that causes any number of issues including the mistaken belief that the only good/correct outcome of activity is a smaller body. If someone says “That person is fit” or someone says “I’m not fit” we haven’t been given any information about their body size.

Got some of your own?  Leave them in the comments!

I’m excited and honored to announce:

I’ll be the keynote speaker and teaching two cabaret dance workshops at the 2nd Annual Dangerous Curves Convention in Detroit June 12-14!

I’ll be one of the keynote speakers at the Weight Stigma Conference in Reykjavik, Iceland September 18-19th! (I’m also putting together a European speaking tour while I’m there so if you’re interested e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org.

I hope to see you there!!!!!

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Published in: on February 1, 2015 at 8:58 pm  Comments (11)  

11 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Burn those calories and watch them melt away… without exercise!

  2. I’m always really creeped out by the “melting” analogies. Every “After” person in diet/pill/gimmick commercial always says, “I just watched the pounds MELT OFF!” and I can’t help but hear the Wicked WItch of the West cry, “I’m melting! Melting! What a world! What a world!”

  3. How about the ones where people say they’re ‘getting healthy?’ Because that’s always the outcome of weight loss, isn’t it? Amirite? Starvation is good for you! (epic eye roll)

    Oh, and becoming ‘swimsuit ready’ is one that really sticks in my craw. I’m swimsuit ready when I plan to swim or go soak in a hot tub, no matter how much I weigh.

  4. We have to be careful not to unwittingly do marketing for those that are selling these “interventions” – which is why I am calling it the “weight cycling industry” and “weight suppression.” “Weight suppression” seems to convey much better the dynamics of weight “bounding back” and challenges the myth of a monolithic thin norm that “losing the weight” implies.

  5. These remind me of the Doctor Who episode where an actual pound of fat would fall off the person, become a sentient (and adorable) little adipose creature, and just walk away.

    • That’s *exactly* what I was thinking when I read the post… “the fat just walks away”… and those little adipose guys were adorable. The commentary on the diet pill industry was just a great added bonus!

  6. Now that Dr. Oz has his own magazine, there will be even more “BLAST YOUR BELLY FAT” headlines at the checkout line.

    And there’s the classic “lifestyle change” euphemisms.

  7. The word FIT is now being used in many media forms as a term for THIN. I’ve seen a lot of TV shows and movies lately that has someone see someone else (someone who’s thin) for the first time and say “Wow! She’s so fit!”. They know absolutely nothing about their fitness level and yet FIT is the term they use. It’s now used by many, sadly and very wrongly, as a term for body size. It’s really disgusting and I’m seeing it happening more and more frequently.

    • AMEN! But TV and movies are just the tips of the icebergs. That concept is what almost all fitspiration (patooie) heavily promotes! This is why Pinterest has pins on fitspiration that are body positive.

  8. In the UK, our currency is pounds sterling. “Shedding pounds” is entirely appropriate.


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