By ignoring the past, we are encouraged to repeat its mistakes. The ‘generation gap’ is an important social tool for any repressive society. If the younger members of a community view the older members as contemptible or suspect or excess, they will never be able to join hands and examine the living memories of the community, nor ask the all important question, ‘Why?’ This gives rise to a historical amnesia that keeps us working to invent the wheel every time we have to go to the store for bread.
We find ourselves having to repeat and relearn the same old lessons over and over that our mothers did because we do not pass on what we have learned or because we are unable to listen. For instance, how many times has this all been said before? For another, who would have believed that once again our daughters are allowing their bodies to be hampered and purgatoried by girdles and high heels and hobble skirts?
Audre Lorde wrote the essay Age, Race, Class and Sex in 1980! Though we no longer wear girdles, we wear spanx; high heels are replaced with stilettos; people have been hospitalised thanks to their skinny jeans cutting off their circulation; and diets are still a thing. Will we ever learn?
I don’t know. I do know that I feel incredibly uncomfortable when people tell me that they are on a diet, or that they need to lose weight. Didn’t we cover this years ago? This wee picture was a poster on my wall when I was at University in the 1990s:
I am a feminist. I am a Body Positive movement teacher. I believe in Health at Every Size, I believe in the Obesity Paradox and I also know (how many scientific studies does a person need to read?) that diets. Don’t. Work. And I now have some ready responses to bolster people who want to take up less space. Because we all have a right to feel good in our bodies.
You are strong, smart and beautiful. Once you’re skinny will you enjoy life more?
My post baby body has not only carried me through life but has created and birthed two other human beings. I wouldn’t swap them for a skinny tummy.
You are an amazing person who is capable of doing incredible things. Will losing weight change that?
It is your responsibility to care for your body and treat it well. If you see your diet as an act of love to your body then that is your choice.
If you could see yourself for a day then you’d see how everyone else sees you and you are amazing.
I hear you say “diet” have you thought about using the philosophy of:
eating like you love yourself?; or filling yourself with goodness?; or fuelling your body?
(I say this while secretly thinking: instead of depriving yourself because you don’t believe you deserve to eat when you are hungry and you do!)
Susie Orbach says: 'Diets turn normal eaters into people who are afraid of food.' Have you read any of her stuff?
Have you heard of Health at Every Size? It’s a community that supports people of all sizes in addressing their health directly by adopting healthy behaviours.
I had to go on an anti colic diet when my first baby was born and it was really hard. Deprivation is a difficult mindset. How are you managing?
When I feel pressure to change my body I remind myself that my life has a bigger purpose than weight loss. (No-one ever wonders how much Marie Curie weighed. Ever)
I shouldn’t have to say any of these things but we haven’t seemed to have learned the lessons of our mothers - I hope our daughters do.