It appears that we are in 2 global pandemics right now; Corona virus AND fat-phobia. In the last couple of weeks, I have been appalled and shocked at the level of body shaming which has arisen as a result of the corona virus and the now widely used term, ‘Quarantine 15’. I have worked hard to remove accounts, comments and followers fuelling this and yet I am still seeing so many comments like:
“Tested positive for having a fat ass”
“I’m either coming out of this quarantine 50lbs lighter or 100lbs heavier only time will tell”
“you may be social distancing from your refrigerator, I’m social distancing from my scale #quarantine15”
“Due to coronavirus my summer body will be postponed until 2021. Thank-you for understanding”.
“So, after this quarantine, will the producers of My 600 Pound Life just find me,”
Despite the fact we are going through an unprecedented health crisis, the message on social media right now is that we should be “making the most” of the extra time we have. There are many healthy suggestions for what we can do with our time such as re-connecting with our families, spending more quality time with our kids or taking on that house or garden project we have been putting off for years. However, there is a dangerous suggestion being passed around; the idea that we should be using this time to lose any extra weight or to try and not gain any. Rather than encouraging movement for health and enjoyment it is fuelling the societal fear of ‘getting fat’.
It is all too common for women to joke about their weight and getting fat. It is almost a given being a woman, but perhaps it goes deeper than that.
Maybe by making a joke out of it and having others agree with you gives you a moment of relief from the self-hate, pain and low-self-worth.
It also gives you an excuse to not do anything about it, until the loud negative voice and the shame, anxiety and fear gets so bad that the only way to get rid of it and ease the pain is to give in.
You then find yourself back stuck in the cycle of restrict, over-eat, restrict, over-eat.
Often these women are smart, hard-working, driven, and successful and yet are struggling on this inside with insecurities, confidence, and low self-worth. The fact that these women are talking about food and their weight right now is basically admitting that they have an unhealthy relationship with food and their body and do not trust themselves around food when they are at home.
Here is the thing, quarantine or self-isolation is the PERFECT environment to trigger many people’s issues with food, whether they were struggling before or not. Here are just a few examples:
You’re already in hiding so it’s easy to eat in secret.
Or, because you are always with your partner or family there urges and cravings are building even more!
You’re stressed trying to juggle working from home with looking after your family at the same time
You are worried and anxious about friends & family, health, work and finances
You’re having lots of moments like, “what’s the point?”, “I can’t workout or stick to my diet anyway”, “I’ll make up for it tomorrow” etc.
You’re justifying it by saying stuff like, “It’s a trivial issue compared to what’s going on anyway.” “Everyone else is snacking more too”, “other women are making jokes about their weight….permission to continue!”
Your struggles with food and your body are only adding to the stress. If you wake up in the morning, look in the mirror and start criticising your body, hating what you see and then you punish yourself, feel angry and start telling yourself that you are not even good enough, how will this impact the rest of your day? How will you be showing up with your kids, partner, colleagues and how much energy, motivation and productivity will you have?
Chances are not a lot.
What many people don’t realise is what effect their words have on those who are struggling with much more series health issues, such as Eating Disorders. I suffered for 15 years with Anorexia and Bulimia and know first-hand the impact of such attitudes. Talks of weight, getting fat and the pressure from society and diet culture to be focusing on avoiding weight gai wherever possible are huge triggers. I remember being exposed to conversations around food and weight and seeing posts on social media which would immediately trigger huge anxiety within me. This would then have a knock-on effect whereby my mind would be consumed by thoughts of calories, weight and that negative inner voice screaming at me that I was not good enough or deserving and I would have to try even harder the next day. I came to realise that the world would not be sensitive to my needs or feelings, however now, given there is a serious health crisis going on, there is even more anxiety and fear to add on top.
Diet Culture is LOVING life right now
Give yourself a break as much as possible, you have a lot on your plate right now. Also diet culture has a huge role to play in all of this. Behind all the weight-related jokes and memes flying around are diet culture’s manipulations which profits from us deeply hating ourselves. But the thing is, diet culture doesn’t just harm people struggling with food issues. It is constantly reminding all of us that we are not good enough, that being just a little bit thinner and more toned is the key to happiness. So, it is easy to get swept along in the ride as the dieting industry is seeing this moment as their time to shine, shoving as much messaging and marketing under our noses as possible. Just like news of COVID-19, we just can’t escape it.
We have no idea how long this crisis is going to go on for so you need to start thinking about YOU and how would you like to be coming out of the other side both mentally and physically? If you are finding that this pandemic is stirring up old thoughts, feelings and behaviours, this is a sign that maybe there may be some issues going on behind the scenes that need to be addressed. This is actually an invitation to get curious about what is it that is causing these behaviours to either re-surface or become worse? What underlying fear or discomfort is needing to be expressed? Lockdown is not an excuse to bury your head in the sane, ignore your feelings and push them away, telling yourself you will sort it out later. By ignoring these struggles, they will continue to be bubbling away under the surface making you feel worse and worse.
You are basically sending your brain the message that; “whenever life gets difficult it is ok to put others needs above yourself and violate your own values.” If this repeated then it just becomes easier to do again and again, leaving you feeling more stuck than ever before! That is why telling yourself, “just this once” or, “this is the last time I promise”, are never just this once, and never the last time. You are violating your own standards and destroying your sense of self-worth.
However, the fact you may be struggling right now highlights that there is a huge opportunity to grow. Life is giving you a really tough time. But you have a choice. You can either decide that enough is enough and take this as a sign that things MUST change. Or, put yourself right at the bottom of your list of priorities, just hoping that it will go away once this all calms down.
As they say, “The lesson will repeat itself until the lesson is learned.”
Let’s take this opportunity to grow, to adapt, to overcome, to breakthrough. I often tell my clients, the worst time to face your issues is the best time. If you don’t feel like you can figure this out on your own then reach out . But whatever you do, don’t sit on the side lines waiting, hoping, wishing and wanting.
How does this land? Does it make sense? Is it helpful? Is this something you've been struggling with? Clearly - you are not alone. I am excited that people have this great opportunity to stand back and clear out some old patterns and choose which new ones they would like to take their place.
If you’ve been struggling with food, stress, overwhelm or anxiety, you are sick and tired of it and want to finally resolve this once and for all then reach out!
Book your private 1:1 call by CLICKING HERE and let’s address the root causes of your struggles.
Food freedom, emotional struggles and weight gain fears
Eating Disorder Therapist