Not *My* SELF

stop_sign-please-justThis 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.

Dear SELF,

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!

Ready to Stop Dieting and Start Living?

If you’re ready to stop dieting, or already have, and would like some help with your intuitive eating skills, check out my new online course and group coaching program, Stop Dieting, Start Living, which will help you do just that. Class starts February 6! Registration is open until February 2 or until the class is full.

Free Group Coaching Call January 28

I’m hosting a free group coaching call on January 28 at 10 am PST. The topic is “Why can’t I stop eating even when I’m not hungry?!” I’m only sending the call details to people on my newsletter list so sign up here if you want in on the fun.

Join our Facebook group community!

We have a very cool little community going on over at Facebook called The Dare To Not Diet Society. Members give each other support, cheer each other on in their non-diet journey. I’m there too! It’s a body positive, non-diet, non-weight-loss focused community, and we’d love to have you.

Dietitians Unplugged Podcast – Episode 4: Will I Ever Lose Weight as an Intuitive Eater?

Cover2In Episode 4 of the Dietitians Unplugged podcast, Aaron and I discuss the common confusion around Intuitive Eating and the expectation of weight loss.

BONUS: a brief update on Oprah and her partnership with Weight Watchers that we discussed in Episode 3.

 

 

Listen on Libsyn or iTunes. Give us a review on iTunes if you like us — this helps to spread the non-diet love to more people.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inside This Overweight Woman…

oprah_winfrey
Oprah, you are better than this.
I’m not the first (this was the first I saw and my inspiration for this post. And it’s awesome!), or anywhere near the last, person to be ticked off at Oprah Winfrey for her Weight Watchers ad in which she says, “Inside every overweight woman is a woman she knows she can be.” As though literally everything Oprah has already done in her life – hosted a long-running talk show, launched careers, empowered girls in Africa to go to school, become a media mogul with her own network all while probably dealing with racism, sexism and sizeism along the way – somehow isn’t totally awesome because she wasn’t thin while she was doing all those things.

But it’s Oprah’s choice. She can feel however she wants about herself, her career, her body. She can go ahead and diet for the millionth time, as though Weight Watchers were some well-kept secret that she just hadn’t caught wind of while she was busy failing at weight loss with her personal trainer and chef.

What I must completely object to, however, is Oprah’s insistence on speaking on behalf of “every” overweight woman. As an overweight – actually, obese, according to my BMI! – woman, I simply disagree that what is in me is a thinner woman whose life is better than my current fat one. I know because I already tried that.

When I discovered my thinner woman inside, I found she came with a deep insecurity about measuring up to others’ standards. I found a thinner woman who probably could have earned a PhD for all the time she spent adding up points and obsessing over food and weight. This woman may have had other interests outside of food, but she couldn’t fully cultivate them because there simply was no room left after food, exercise and worrying about how she looked.

Despite what Oprah said about looking in the mirror and not recognizing your own self because you’re buried under all that fat, this thinner woman, at her thinnest and hungriest, frequently looked into the mirror and didn’t recognize herself at all. She felt a strong sense of disconnection from herself, as though this was not in fact her own body but some borrowed, alien body with which she was not entirely familiar or comfortable. As though she knew the ephemeral quality of it already.

Oprah could not possibly know what is inside every fat woman. She only knows what’s inside herself and if she chooses to view all her amazing accomplishments as less than amazing simply because she was not thin, that’s her choice.

Because inside this fat woman is someone whose worth is not determined by her appearance, and knowing that, is just fine with the way she looks, and even more excited by the things she is. This fat woman dared to not diet, dares to take care of herself in a nourishing, not punishing, way, and dares to have her voice heard. She had the guts to start a blog and a podcast – things the thin woman never would have dared to do –  and to reject the anti-woman, anti-fat culture that is ever-present.

Oprah’s weight journey has been so public and I feel for her. She doesn’t know that her size really doesn’t matter to the amazing person she is. But, Oprah, please speak for yourself only. Because didn’t you hear? It’s okay for us to feel fine about ourselves without having to turn into something we’re really not. It’s okay for each of us to reach inside and see that the woman there is already the woman we want to be.

Podcast!

Have you checked out the Dietitians Unplugged Podcast yet? No?! Check it out here then!

Listen on Libsyn or iTunes. If you like us, leave us a review, as this helps to spread non-diet love to more people. Also check out our new Dietitians Unplugged Facebook page! More episodes coming very soon.

Dietitians Unplugged Podcast – Episode 3: Oprah and Weight Watchers

Cover2In Episode 3, Aaron and I talk about the relationship between Oprah (no last name needed) and Weight Watchers. Is Oprah just in it for the money? Is she really going to diet yet again after so many failed attempts at weight loss? Is dieting, with its well-known failure rate, compatible with self-actualization, something Oprah has championed throughout the years? Listen to what we have to say on these questions and more!

Like it? Subscribe here.

Download on Libsyn or on iTunes. Don’t forget to give us a rating on iTunes if you liked it!