Why Weight-Loss Hacks Are No Match For Body Liberation
I can't scroll through TikTok without seeing a video about Ozempic or mouth fat removal. The videos range from before and after to Stitches critiquing the popularity of these trends.
For those who may not be familiar, Ozempic is a drug usually prescribed to diabetics, but now it's being touted as a quick-acting weight-loss pill. Speculation is rife that many celebrities, such as the Kardashians and Mindy Kaling, who have visibly slimmed down their physiques these days, are using the drug.
One of the biggest problems with Ozempic's popularity, especially via social media platforms like TikTok, is that people who really need the drug to manage their diabetes are experiencing shortages. In addition, weight loss effects with the drug have been reported to be short-lived. According to a recent study in the journal Pharmacology & Therapeutics, participants regained two-thirds of their previous weight loss after stopping treatment altogether, underscoring the unsustainability of the treatment.
Still, other weight loss treatments, such as buccal fat pad removal, have experienced similar claims to fame. The Trending procedure removes fat from the cheeks with the goal of making your face look less fat, less round and more dimensional. Last November, the New York Post published an article titled “Bye-Bye Booty: The Return of Heroin Chic,” telling us that being skinny is on trend. To sum it up, despite the popularity of the body positivity movement, it seems society is working overtime to convince us that bodies are the trend — and that we should continue to evolve with the times to match whatever physique “needs”. Messaging is powerful, and unfortunately, it works.
In theory, the wellness industry is supposed to keep us “healthy.” Yet, for many of us, this culture makes us feel like the opposite. Many of us now struggle with more body image issues than we started, complicated relationships with food and exercise, and an inability to trust our instincts when it comes to listening to our bodies. It's time to hold this industry accountable for the harm it has caused.
The journey of physical liberation can be difficult at times, but it is one of the most rewarding endeavors we can pursue for ourselves.
I know this because I have experienced it myself. I started my first diet at 17 and spent the next decade of my life dieting, exercising excessively and restricting my body in an attempt to control how my body looked and stay lean. After years of suffering, inadequacy, and obsessing over my body, I realized losing weight and looking my best in life wasn't going to make me happier or feel more worthy of acceptance.
Through body liberation, I was able to change my perspective, my life, and my mental health—a concept that transcends body positivity in important and impactful ways. Body positivity can be a great introduction to the concept of thinking about our bodies differently. It focuses on empowering individuals to love and appreciate their own bodies, regardless of their size, shape or weight, promoting that all bodies are worthy of respect and love. Body Liberation is about finding true freedom within our bodies. It's about understanding that our goal is not to look at our bodies and love what we see. It's about understanding that we are more than our bodies. In fact, our bodies are the least of our interests. In fact, they are just vessels for us to have this experience of humanity. We are inherently valuable because we exist. When we are no longer attached to our bodies, we can finally have a full and fulfilling life experience. The choice is ours.but what choose What does liberation look like? While I can't give you all the answers within the scope of this article, here are four tips to help you on your journey of physical liberation:
1. Recognize that the body changes
Your body changes, and that's normal. They were created and designed to do just that. They change shape and size. They get old. They deteriorate. They wrinkle and dimple. They lose their hair and grow hair in new places. They lose weight. They gain weight. They deal with chronic conditions and diseases. Some of them have children. Some of them run marathons. Some of them use wheelchairs. There are endless ways to have a body, there is no right or wrong way. In fact, this body is fleeting. This is the beauty of our common humanity. We can spend all our time, money, and energy chasing our “inner” bodies, a never-ending moving goal—or we can choose to accept the fact that our bodies are all made to look different. Designed. The sooner we learn to love and appreciate our bodies in all their iterations, the easier it will be to liberate.
2. Practice Gratitude
Our appearance is the least of our interests. Being grateful for ourselves independently of our bodies helps us realize that we are more than what we look like. Our bodies are just shells that we inhabit to allow us to have this human experience. Express gratitude every day for things that have nothing to do with your appearance. If you find yourself struggling with this, seek some positive affirmation from your best friend or someone who loves you deeply and unapologetically. It is easier for other people to list amazing qualities about ourselves than it is for us to praise ourselves.
3. Perform a social cleanse
I really like social media. It allows us to connect with people all over the world that we might never otherwise meet. But, as a collective, we spend a lot of time on social media. I know I've spent more time there than I care to admit. So if I'm going there, I try to create a healthy environment for myself. For me, that means curating my feed with intent. I really like the unfollow button and the mute button. If I feel triggered by content, if it makes me feel less, if it makes me question my worth, if it makes me feel like I'm back in food culture, that's not what I want to see on my timeline . This doesn't necessarily mean there's anything wrong with the content. It probably just means that based on my current situation, it doesn't make me feel good, so I set a boundary that doesn't allow me to see this stuff on my newsfeed. If looking at someone else's “perfect” body triggers my own body image insecurities, maybe that's not what I need to see. It's not about the person or the content, it's about my choice to prioritize my mental health.
4. Tend to empathy
Compassion is the antidote to guilt, shame, and dissatisfaction with our bodies. Sometimes we like what we see in the mirror, sometimes we don't – it's natural, it's human. The trick is learning to handle good and bad feelings with curiosity and kindness, and always remembering that no matter how we feel about our bodies each day, we are always worth it. When we can begin to discipline ourselves with compassion, kindness, and caring, we can not only begin to respect, but appreciate who we are. It can also lessen our body shame and reduce the degree to which our sense of self-worth depends on physical appearance, especially when we recognize that we all have trouble loving ourselves. We really are doing our best.
The journey of physical liberation can be difficult at times, but it is one of the most rewarding endeavors we can pursue for ourselves. When we embrace liberation, we are able to celebrate and appreciate the body we have now – in its current shape, size and level of ability. This is what embracing physical liberation has done for me. It gives me real freedom in all iterations. How tragic it would be to spend the best moments, days or entire lives fighting our bodies and wishing it were something else.
Chrissy King's “The Body Liberation Project: Understanding How Racism and Food Culture Can Help Cultivate Joy and Build Collective Freedom” will be available March 14.
Credit: Getty/Tara Moore/Brian Hagiwara/Jackyenjoyphotography