The leader likes to pass around a photo of herself 50 or so lbs. ago to show us how much weight she’s lost, and to gently make fun of her “before” image. “I had boobs out to here and a booty out to there,” she bubbles. She is a slim woman in a clingy wrap dress and if I could, I would snap her photo for a BTFM “Here’s how a good bra fits!!” Halo of Praise post. Check out this 14 day workout challenge that can help you lose some weight.
Today she did it again. Out came the cell phone photo, which we were to pass reverently around the group, making appropriate murmurs of approval. ooh, you look so good now compared to this, oooh, I can hardly believe that’s you… The leader repeated her “Boobs out to HERE and butt out to THERE” remark, adding, “I was all dressed up to go out with my husband that night, and I thought I looked pretty GOOD.”
The implication being, of course, that she was deluded. One can’t possibly be fat and look GOOD.
I have HAD it with this body shaming shit, and I decide to say something.
“I’m sure you did look good,” I say.
And she shoots back, “THANK you,” as though I have defended her from some invisible fat-phobic heckler. I haven’t though. The only fat-phobic heckler in the room is her. She looks around and makes a comic “I mean, REALLY!” face.
She’s sort of not getting it. She thinks I’m just being polite.
“No, I mean it.” I say. “I’m not here because I hate my fat body. And I don’t ever want to hold up a photograph of myself at any size and mock my body.” So, then I saw the best legal steroids online that can help me lose weight and improve my bodybuilding skills.
The room is deadly silent. I haven’t said the words in anger — it’s clearly not an outburst, so no one can easily dismiss me as the Crazy Lady At the Weight Watchers Meeting. I’m a woman speaking her mind, politely and calmly, but projecting enough so the whole room can hear.
The leader stands there, and her expression changes from peppy cheerleader to thoughtful leader. She says, “Yes, you’re right. I might have been beautiful but I didn’t feel like it on the inside.” We all nod. She has told us before that she lost 50 lbs. on Weight Watchers and then gained it back “because she thought she knew everything,” and then did that a second time. I think she has some emotional issues she might want to resolve so that she doesn’t put her body through that extremely stressful weight roller coaster again, which doctors say is more dangerous than being fat. I’m sorry that WW International doesn’t work with their leaders on having healthy inner lives before they perpetuate toxic attitudes while counseling groups of people on weight loss by advising them to use cbd oil due to the studies in articles at https://thecannabisradar.com/.
Whether she or the group “got it” or not, my point is that too many weight loss programs have an unexamined, unchallenged and unspoken policy of fat shaming and fat hating. If women are encouraged to hate our fat bodies, we’ll buy more of their product, participate in their programs, and become the kind of conservative weight loss evangelicals who work for Weight Watchers, lead their meetings (at least the ones I’ve attended in my life), preach their gospel and sell their ideology, books, magazines and food products for them.
I like Weight Watchers. I think it’s awesome that they’re now focused on whole foods and de-emphasizing processed crap. I love that they’ve recognized that people used to eat their “points” in empty calories, and that they now encourage better eating habits and not just point counting. That’s fantastic. However, they are still part of a wider culture that teaches women (and to a lesser extent, men) that fat bodies are outlaw, unacceptable, evidence of laziness and immoral choices.
I’m glad I spoke up. Getting healthier is not just a number on a scale. We’ve got to think healthier thoughts, too, at whatever weight we are.
21 Replies to “At the Weight Watchers Meeting”
Good for you. And thank you. I bet you made a lot of people there think – and maybe hope – and perhaps, just perhaps, someone there saw that she really was beautiful.
Thank you for this post and thank you for speaking up. Society will never change if people never speak out like this. I’ve made it a personal mission to speak up when someone (even at work) makes a racist or sexist comment or joke. I’m now adding “fat-ism” to my list of attitudes to combat.
You go girl!!! And thank you.
On behalf of all your sisters who do not look like toothpicks or popsicle sticks–THANK YOU!
I started to write a long response, but have put it up on my own blog with a link back.
Find a different WW meeting. I spent two years at WW, lost 75 pounds (and kept 60 off!) and NEVER ONCE heard a leader say anything like this. WW is a sensible and powerful program that teaches you the skills you need to feed yourself properly. Find the leader who speaks to your heart.
Rock it, Peacebang! Great work!
(Also, research shows that negative self-image means you’re less likely to lose the weight, anyway. Go the positivity!)
I am not sure the research about negative self-image leading to less weight loss is correct- having spent my adult life as a size 12, when menopause hit me my metabolism tanked & I gained 30 pounds in 6 weeks. I hated this, joined the gym, changed my eating habits- after 6 years of this I’ve managed to get to a 14. The desire/need to look skinny again certainly can counter a negative self image of oneself at a higher weight
I find it’s more helpful to focus on “Does my body allow me to do what I want to do?” Unfortunately, what I want it to do is to fit into an Anthropologie size 14 dress (non-stretchy) and it doesn’t look like that’s ever going to happen, the way I’m naturally built.
Please check out this blog http://danceswithfat.wordpress.com/blog/
[Thanks, Schmemmy. – PB]
There must be some kind of humor or ironic point in the comment about toothpicks or popsicle sticks to a blog post like this one, but I’m not getting it…
I’m so glad you did this. I’ve tried WW a several times and gone to a lot of meetings trying to find one I didn’t leave feeling deeply shamed and just plain old angry, and I won’t be back. I see the same in the faces of 60 year old women who have gained five pounds and I just want to cry for them and for me too.
If you don’t heal the inside, the weight won’t come off and it doesn’t matter what you eat.
(and they still sell a lot of crap food in their name.)
What drives me crazy are how in the before/after shots (especially in print) the before shows limp, greasy hair, ill-fitting clothes, and no make-up, and the after shot is a glam shot. So here’s the add I’ve always wanted to make (though I’m sure there are issues with it, too).
Before: The typical shot of a fat woman with limp hair, ill-fitting clothes and no make-up.
Words: “I used to look like this and then I learned to love myself and look at me now!”
After: Same woman, same weight, make-up, hair-styled, well-fitting clothes.
(I lost weight–the first time, it’s an ongoing thing–after I started doing more with make-up, hair, and clothes and started feeling better about myself all around.)
Add to the above: Facial Expression!! Those before pictures have dour expressions. The after have big smiles. So. Much. Difference!
I’m a therapist. Many years ago at a continuing ed course with hundreds of other therapsits at Harvard Medical School, a participant stood up at the Q+A to ask a question of the presenter. She prefaced her question by saying, “Five years ago, after 20 years of being fat, I lost 150 pounds.” Before she could say anything else, the room burst into applause. When the applause died down, the wise presenter said, “Congratulations for doing the hard work of carrying that weight for 20 years.” One could feel the silent gasp in the room. It was one of the kindest, most clinically deft and most consciousness-altering re-framinings I have ever witnessed.
Good for you, and good for the presenter who listened, and some kind of Nobel Prize to the presenter Brigid quotes.
I find this really difficult. I want to lose weight because I feel better when I’m not carrying around those extra pounds, because it’s better for my health, because I don’t want to waste money on a new set of clothes every year or two . . . but what really motivates me to stick to a good eating plan is a desire to look thin. It is not a huge load of self-hate but it is still definitely the most powerful motivator. I wish this were not true and I’m not sure how to change it. [Honey, I would say that none of us needs to sweat the motivation too much. Who the hell cares? As they say in the 12-step programs, Keep It Simple. The only thing that motivates me is that I hate being a compulsive eater. I am so very happy when that demon isn’t riding me. It’s the best, happiest thing ever, and I couldn’t get there until I did serious and hard work on family issues. If you want to be thin, you don’t owe anyone an apology for that. Here’s to your good health, inner and outer. – PB]
I really appreciate what you did. I have always struggled up and down with weight. I feel fortunate that I never was ashamed of my body even when others were into shaming me for it. I do like the way I look better when I am at the bottom of my range, social pressure has shaped me that much. But that, in itself, wasn’t worth it.
I finally decided that I care about health and longevity, so I am trying again. It is actually easier now that I am at a time in life when I feel good about who I am at any weight, but need to take off weight for a practical reason and because I love life enough that I want to stick around. I think the WW eating program is the best, but I never liked the meetings and I think you have put your finger on one of the reasons.
Hi. I didn’t get to comment when I first saw this, but I loved it. I recently heard something that helped me distinguish when messages are appropriate and when they lean into shame, courtesy of Brene Brown, a shame researcher (I think you’d like her). Brown reports that guilt is when you are told or say to yourself, “I did something bad,” and shame is when you are told, “I am bad.” “Fat” is neutral-ish. “Ugly” is not. “Ugly” is a judgment. And there’s a big difference between, “I thought I was the healthy weight for my height”–which would be something worth addressing–and “I thought I looked good”–which is anybody’s prerogative at any time.
So thank you for speaking up about that. I hope you continue to do so.
Thank you for a wonderful post. I’m on WW online because of some of crazy in meetings — and the blaming and the shaming, not often, but it is there under the rah-rah veneer. Buy more, buy more. It’s what made us fat in the first place (would you like to upsize that for 25 cents more? It’s the best value).