Ever notice how WEIGHT itself is thought to help reach “happiness?” There’s this common association between weight loss and happiness that exists among women. And it doesn’t surprise me one bit: every single dieting company THRIVES off of this connection. We see hundreds of weight loss ads in our life time revealing a seemingly unhappy-looking woman BEFORE she used some magical weight loss pill or diet, side by side with a completely happy woman in a much thinner body. The diet industry is profitable BECAUSE of these images, and because of what they (falsely) sell to every single woman who is exposed to them.
Let me tell ya a little something about happiness itself.
- It’s such a vague way to describe ourselves! Why? Because it’s not actually consistent. We’re human, we’re going to have a range of emotions. And no, happiness is not always a consistent one.
- It’s constantly sought after, without us sometimes TRULY knowing what we’re UNHAPPY with in the first place. My guess? It’s not always the number on the scale that is leading to “unhappiness,” but rather other things that are going on.
My guess it’s also the way we have been led to believe that the number on the scale SHOULD dictate how we view ourselves and how we perceive what it means to be happy. We weren’t born believing that our weight represented our worth or how we felt. This was what society taught us over time, after consistently feeding us (no pun intended) message after message about beauty standards.
I can vividly remember my thinking pattern 10 years ago: if onnnnnly I reached my “magic number” on the scale, THEN I would be happy. The rest of my world felt chaotic, messy, and I felt a complete lack of love that I wanted so badly at the time. And so food became the only thing I felt I had control over. It gave me this false sense of safety. Did I reach the magic number? You bet. And it didn’t stop there.
There was no “end” to my goal at the time. Why? Because the more weight I lost, I was STILL unhappy – go figure! No number on the scale “fixed” what I was actually feeling. Then fast forward to the time I decided to recover on my own. “You’ll be so much happier with more weight on you!,” everyone claimed. And so I gained the weight back over the course of two years.
A lot of things changed: I had more energy, I was able to rebuild my relationship with fitness (which I loved), I was present, my life didn’t revolve around the next meal I was going to eat, I was able to travel without getting exhausted, I experienced food freedom for the first time in many years, I was able to be social.
Don’t get me wrong: weight restoration and recovery is something I will always be grateful for. I mean, it truly saved my life. But, there was still a sense of persistent [emotional] emptiness. That didn’t go away just because I gained weight back. And the same can be said for those who associate happiness with weight loss.
Weight has NOTHING to do with happiness in the long term.
Sure, it may make us feel temporarily better in our own skin, or feel more confident. Sure, it might allow for us to get through our days with more ease. However, my guess is that what’s underneath the weight, what’s beneath the scale, is still there.
There’s still so much more than using “weight loss” or “weight gain” as the solution to our [lack of] happiness.
5 years after choosing recovery, I live in a body that is XX pounds heavier. I still struggle with feeling empty, lonely, depressed, and I deal with anxiety. Bet you wouldn’t have guessed that though, right? So long as my body appears to have reached stability and a state of physical health, right? This stigma attached to weight only keeps women in a perpetual cycle of dieting, and keeps us living with a lack of love for our bodies.