Stop Telling Us to Lose Weight, January

If I see one more January headline about becoming your best self through weight loss, I’m going to throw this cheese knife I’m holding right at it. I’d be sacrificing my laptop screen to make a point, but I’m okay with that.

I love a new year, with it’s clean slate and promise that anything can happen. And I actually love the idea of reinventing yourself for that new year. But when did we decide that the only way to reinvent yourself–to live your best life, to be a better person, to finally achieve grand happiness–is to lose weight? Why am I watching Oprah tell me this in Weight Watchers commercials that just make me feel really cynical? Why do so many articles about getting healthy and feeling great have an underlying message that weight loss is the only way to do this? And why does this shit always feel aimed at WOMEN??

“I have a vagina, and that does not mean my value to humanity is a clothing size.”

Maybe the men in my life are oblivious to the messaging, or maybe they’re just not the kind of guys these commercials and articles are aiming for. I know plenty of guys who think about weight loss, but they’re not externally motivated by an avalanche of media telling them they won’t be good enough until they do.

I have a vagina, and that does not mean my value to humanity is a clothing size. I’m carrying around a pretty great brain, too. And a helluva lot of creativity and compassion for other people.

I also like to be healthy! I am not anti-health, and I want my body to feel strong and capable. It’s a constantly evolving goal, with its own ups and downs as an asthmatic. I like joy and cheese and carbs and Zumba and feeling great as an overall human package. I’m never going to get excited about a recipe with nutritional yeast in it.

This is my wishlist for real-life, “new you” body articles in any given new year:

  • How can I pull off purple hair and still be taken seriously as a professional?
  • Where can I find the best pithy t-shirts for the gym?
  • How do I wear lipstick when I have no top lip? And keep it off my teeth? (Seriously, how do you lipstick wearers DO that?)
  • Am I too old to wear hoop earrings?
  • Tips on where to grab micronaps without drawing attention.
  • What’s the best strength training routine for carrying around a child and an armful of books?
  • How can I improve my posture because child and armful of books, plus computer time all day?
  • What can I make for lunch that can be scarfed down while standing up, walking a hallway, or running between meetings and appointments in the car? It can’t taste like lawn trimmings, either.

Where are all of those tips?

“Tell me I’m never too old to take up Highland dancing.”

You know what other kinds of reinventing I wouldn’t mind reading about every January? Habits to help me be more creative. Give me tips on starting a sketchbook habit, or ways for a busy mom with a small human to squeeze in some writing time. Tell me I’m never too old to take up Highland dancing.

Teach me how to maximize my planner. How can my To Do lists be more efficient? What are the best apps for compartmentalizing my entire life? Give me tips for tracking deadlines, in work and in life. I want a worksheet that shows me how to plan professional goals for the year and actually achieve them. Don’t give me generic bullet points about time management and effective communication.

Tell me this is the year I will find all the mom friends, and be specific about how to do it. Give me a whole-year calendar that will keep me on top of school functions and tell me when I should start planning birthday parties and order the Christmas cards. How can I streamline thank you notes?

I want tips to be a more organized, conscientious friend, parent, child, sibling, spouse. Maybe my reinvention involves being more mindful, and trying to make time for everyone in the midst of a busy, modern life. Show me how.

But stop telling me every January that the key to a fabulous new year is weight loss. Because that is some bullshit, and I’m calling it.

 

Jackie Reeve

Jackie is a writer, maker, and former school librarian. She's a founding editor of GlitterSquid. Her writing has appeared all over the place, including BuzzFeed, Hello Giggles, and The Sweethome. She believes in craftiness over chores, turtlenecks if it's below 70, orange whenever possible, cheese for dessert, hot chocolate for lunch, and having far too many stickers in her life. She lives in New Jersey with her English husband and dinosaur-loving young daughter.

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