This weekend I saw this SELF magazine article on Oprah’s weight loss. So, I decided to write them a letter! I’m over magazines posing as advocates for female empowerment when they are just more of the same oppression.
Your article on Oprah’s weight loss was disappointing, however not surprising.
Oprah has not found a permanent weight loss cure, she has simply found a new way to diet. And like the other 95% of people who attempt to lose weight in any way, she will most likely regain this weight in 3 to 5 years. If she manages to develop the eating-disorder-like tendencies that the few people who sustain weight loss beyond this time frame do, she may be slightly more successful, but her life will then revolve around her diet. Is this what we expect one of the world’s most successful women to be concentrating on? Her diet? This expectation is unacceptable for any woman.
The science on weight loss is now clear: all but a tiny fraction of people who attempt weight loss will regain some, all, or even more of the lost weight in 3 to 5 years after the initial weight loss is achieved. Even Weight Watchers, by their own data, cannot show better results. A weight loss-focused mindset drives the restriction/disinhibition cycle and does not yield significant long term weight loss or better health for most people.
I am a former SELF subscriber. I read your magazine faithfully in my most restrictive dieting days, and unfortunately, the weight loss-centered advice in your magazine aided and abetted my extreme disordered eating. Women don’t need to change their body shapes to achieve their best selves, but I know this is what sells magazines. The dangled carrot of a “better looking” or smaller body will always ensure you have subscribers. A focus on body appearance plays women small, though; it robs them of body autonomy and the time and energy to pursue real equality and power in society (Did you know women don’t have this yet? Surely you do.).
I’d like to invite SELF magazine to change it’s editorial focus from weight-centered to non-weight-and-body-appearance-centered. I’d like to invite you to take a truly feminist, body positive stance which does not include the promotion of weight loss or the adherence to cultural beauty standards (because why do we even need beauty standards? Are we not so much more than this?). We can have discussions about health that do not involve weight loss or our appearance. I’d like to invite you to embrace true size diversity by featuring, regularly, women of all shapes, sizes, colors and abilities in your magazine.
There are a growing number of us who refuse to any longer play the weight loss game, and have chosen a weight-neutral, non-diet path to health. We have been damaged by the diet industrial complex but refuse to let it rob of us true health and vitality any further. There is no magazine* for us.
Supporting the weight loss paradigm does not improve women’s lives. Oprah is not better because she’s smaller. Someone temporarily losing weight on Weight Watchers or any diet is not revolutionary, it’s more of the same. I hope you will decide to do better by women someday.
Glenys Oyston, RDN
Dare To Not Diet
If we want change, we are going to have to start demanding it, loudly, publicly, and all the time. It’s tiresome. I don’t want to do it, but I’m going to anyway. Will you join me?
*Except one magazine!
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Welcome to food freedom! Dare to Not Diet LLC is owned by Glenys Oyston, Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Therapist and Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor. It's time to feel good about eating, your body, and your health.
Wow, how inspirational! Definitely going to start questioning magazines like this and taking action. Let us know when you get a response.
We may be waiting a long time. LOL. But I still think this kind of vocal activism is necessary if we want to see change. Oh and voting with our dollars.
Perfect…I hope you actually sent this 🙂
Absolutely, their address is letters@SELF.com. Maybe others will as well!
Glenys, this just confirms that you are one bada** lady boss of HAES and non-diet/weight neutral nutrition. You and Aaron have been central to me healing my relationship with my body, dusting off my Accredited Practicing Dietitian status and heading back into the fight this year. I hope you know just how many people you are inspiring all over the world. It is simply unacceptable in a world where women still don’t have equal pay and equal body rights that ‘women’s magazines’ are trying to keep us small, quiet, and compliant with arbitrary beauty standards rather than leading a rallying cry for true equality.
You Go you Nasty Lady 🙂
Awww thank you SO much! Hearing that really makes me feel great! Glad you’re joining into the non-diet world – we need you!!
Thank you for writing this letter. I subscribe to FabUplus thanks to you. Also, it breaks my heart that Oprah once said he biggest accomplishment in life (life!) was to lose weight. I’m not sure how the most revered black woman in the U.S. sees fat cells as a tool to power. Shame on her, but more so shame on the media and diet industry for supporting her when she reiterates their message.
Yeah, it just always makes me so sad for her. She’s rich beyond most people’s dreams, she’s accomplished SO much, she’s so revered…but somehow being fat is holding her back? Or diminishing those accomplishments. That’s when I realized what a messed up world we’re living in.