Today is Independence Day in the United States. When I think of independence and freedom, I also think about BODIES. My work is body liberation. Body liberation is the radical idea that all bodies deserve respect, compassion, and equal value. It throws off cultural standards of beauty, saying “Fuck this. I’m not interested in your cultural standards and I refuse to buy into an oppressive system that treats people unfairly.” Ditching diets and eating disorders goes way beyond the scale. It’s a political act.
In this country, not all bodies are equal. Check out the news and you’ll see why. We live in a world that pays respect to the majority. Body liberation is not part of the “norm” because body liberation threatens the very thing that keeps the majority on top: white supremacy.
Brown bodies, black bodies, bodies with disabilities (visible or unseen), women’s bodies, children’s bodies, trans bodies, bodies wearing hijab or other religious and cultural garb, fat bodies…all kinds of bodies live on the margins and don’t have the same kind of access to goods, services, and economic advantages as (mostly) higher paid, straight, thin, white, cisgender male, able bodies.
There are lots of ways to marginalize bodies and we do it every day in the United States. In fact, at this moment in time, we’re doing it at rapid-fire pace. We keep people on the fringe of society by not giving people a voice. We stop giving them resources. We leave them out of history books. We punish and imprison them for petty crimes. We detain them. We rape them. We kill them. We starve them. We tax them. We distract them from all these tactics and tell them they’re being unreasonable and unpatriotic for talking about the injustice.
Diets are a distraction. Eating disorders are a symptom of systemic trauma or injustice. Both of these things literally keep people small. Diet culture or eating disorder brain say:
“You must weigh this much to be accepted,”
“You must have this much fat to be healthy,”
“You are too big, too loud, too needy, too much for people to handle,”
“You must shrink yourself in order to be heard, loved, valued, accepted, given a job, or offered medical services”
“If this diet tactic doesn’t work, then it’s time to find the next thing.”
The “next thing” becomes a series of things that keeps you trapped in the diet-binge cycle. (Binge eating is not “out of control” eating, but a direct response to restrictive thoughts and behaviors often influenced by external forces).
You cannot think or do very much when you’re hungry. Being hungry for food nourishment and compassion nourishment starves ideas. You can’t dream bigger when you’re starved for ideas.
When you’re starved for ideas and dreams, you can’t think about how you’re being stifled by a system that doesn’t like and accept you for who you are. Diets and eating disorders are manufactured problems that keep us distracted from deeper body injustices. It’s impossible to get outside your head when you’re anxious about that extra slice of pizza and if the scale is going to tell you to hate or love yourself tomorrow.
Ditching diets or eating disorders goes way beyond the scale. Your liberation from restrictive diets and food rules resists norms that tell us all bodies need to look the same. Our differences make us a beautiful human family.
Loving your body AS IT IS NOW is an act of body liberation. You shirk the idea that you need to be small to be loved. You say, “The rules made us broken and hungry. I will not play small. I will not play by these rules.”
When you don’t play by the rules, people get angry. They have spent time, money and energy in a system that doesn’t work and they’re pissed you’re off the hook. These people believe in scarcity, which keeps our economic and social system afloat. If you believe there is never enough to go around, then you’re always scrambling to stay on top. When you scramble, you oppress others (but mostly yourself).
Body liberation reminds us that there is no “top” and that just being is our birthright. Sounds simple, but it’s REVOLUTIONARY.
When you ditch diets, you might just do it for yourself. But pretty soon, you wake up. You see that body liberation isn’t just about freedom from food rules. It’s about liberty and justice for ALL BODIES oppressed in all kinds of ways (not just with food stuff). How can we be distracted by doughnuts and pizza when we see the roots of body persecution?
In that moment, it is time to speak out on behalf of others whose body liberation hasn’t been made possible. You will stop fearing BIGNESS (in all ways). And pretty soon, you might notice that your liberation inspires the liberation of others.
This is why ditching your diet goes beyond the scale.
Are you ready to learn more about ditching your eating disorder or diet mentality? Do you know you’re ready to trash the scale and need support for eating disorders counseling? Contact me to work together. I’d love to help you.