Our culture has decided that gaining weight is the worst thing ever. And we have gotten the message in a multitude of sneaky or super blatant ways.
Dr: You need to lose weight.
Patient: But you just said that I was perfectly healthy.
Dr: Yeah... I just don't like how you look.
So of course when we do gain weight, it sets off our internal emotional alarms.
We attach so much meaning to weight gain. Meanings like:
I'm a failure.
I'm never able to to anything right.
This is embarrassing.
Everyone thinks I'm gross.
Everyone thinks I have no control.
Nobody will like me anymore.
Nobody will be attracted to me anymore.
I am addicted to food! I need to cut it out! I need to cut down! I need to only eat papaya!
I had ONE thing to do, and it was to be small and pretty, and I can't even DO THAT!?
... and on and on and on.
Unfortunately, because we live in a weight-obsessed society, we can find lots of examples to support our weight fears. That still doesn't make them unequivocally true.
Often, when we have our own weight fears, we can be the worst critics of other people, so we assume everyone is as critical.
Don't get me wrong, lots of people are critical about weight. Sometimes well-meaning people. Sometimes a**holes. People who think they have your health in mind. People who think weight loss is simple and important. People who are insecure themselves. People who have believed everything they ever heard about weight. People who have nothing better to do than dwell on what they think other people could be doing better. People who think that judging by appearance is a healthy practice. People who think weight is a choice. People who think you need to fulfill your womanly duty of becoming a pretty, skinny wife, etc.
Basically, ignorant people, or cruel people, or people with weight insecurities of their own.
And yeah, ignorant, cruel people can be really hurtful.
It still doesn't mean they are right.
Remember there are also lots of kind and open people who do not judge based on weight or weight gain. There are lots of people who have struggled themselves with body image. There are lots of people who don't even notice. There are lots of people who don't give a shit. There are lots of people who are attracted to bigger bodies.
And the more neutrally or positively we feel about our own weight, the more the outside chatter doesn't matter much. Really.
So what it really means when you gain weight is this:
You gained weight.
That's literally it. You are just as worthy, smart, important, and attractive as before. (Attractiveness is subjective, you know that? Beauty standards were invented, and continue to be re-invented, within every culture, every few years.)
Maybe you gained weight because you didn't move as much the past few months. Maybe you are going through a breakup or another loss. Maybe you lost weight with a breakup or loss and now you're getting back to normal and gaining it back. Maybe it's winter. Maybe you are in chronic pain or broke a foot. Maybe you changed your eating and are trying to feed yourself differently. Maybe you are recovering from an eating disorder. Maybe you gave up caffeine and now aren't manic in the morning (like me). Maybe your body chemistry just changed. Maybe you had a baby. Maybe you stopped fighting your body, and this is part of the process for your body repairing. Maybe you're naturally big. Maybe you gave up alcohol or another substance and are now working on your relationship to emotions and eating.
These are all extremely legitimate and healthy reasons to gain weight. Gaining weight reflects a normal human body, experiencing a normal amount of waxing, waning, and fluctuation. You are not flawed to be in a body that is reflecting what is going on emotionally or otherwise. And you are not flawed to be in any body.
Maybe you'll eventually lose the weight, maybe you won't. Maybe it's temporary, maybe it is not. Either way I recommend listening to your body. Either way, I recommend befriending where you are now.
And either way, your life is still good now. You are still you. Being awesome. In a body.
Of course it sucks to live in a society where weight is so focused on -- it doesn't make it any easier. But change starts with us being kind to ourselves and others, regardless of weight. Pro tip? Find a doctor (and friends) who are hip to Health at Every Size.
In conclusion, the biggest (and only) consequence of gaining weight is needing to get bigger clothes and bras. Remember, though, it's not you that's wrong. It's the clothes that are too small.
Go get some cute clothes that fit.
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