by Laura Jane Davis
After the UK announced lockdown restrictions ending and the potential dates of when we could hug our loved ones and finally go further than the local Tesco, lots of people felt hopeful and excited as they could finally see the end of what has been a difficult year for everyone.
I’ve had conversations about trips away with friends, family barbecues, hugging people, and getting dressed in something other than loungewear. I’ve been sent memes, about how much joy we are going to feel when we reach our ‘new normal’. But what about the other memes going around?
It took about 12 hours after the announcement, before the internet became a place for women to, once again, feel like they are required to shrink their bodies. With images such as a plate of ice to get ‘ready’ for the end of lockdown and tweets urging you to lose all the ‘lockdown weight’. After a year that has been the most difficult for so many of us, this is not okay.
We have navigated through a year full of challenges, we have overcome what most of us would have believed, we could not. We have homeschooled our children, worked from home, lost our jobs, felt financial pressures, lost connection with our friends and family, and lost people we loved. We have been presented with changes, uncertainties and I don't know anyone who hasn’t struggled in some capacity in the last year.
Our bodies have kept us alive, have kept us going through this last year and we are now being told that those bodies aren’t good enough ? Because we will be able to do the things we love, we therefore need to change our bodies to deserve doing those things?
There is a familiarity in the air; when lockdown first started, so did the ‘let's use this time to lose weight’ content. Then, the new year hit and once again, we were made to feel that we needed to change and to shrink. Here we go again...We are being told that the very bodies that we have been protecting, the bodies that many incredible women have taken the time to reconnect with and learn to love, those bodies aren’t worthy of freedom.
Your body has helped you through this time, it has carried you and asked nothing in return
Over the last year, I have taken the time to reconnect with my body, to honour its needs and nourish it without guilt and shame. I know so many others who have done the same, and now we are being force-fed the message that we should be restricting ourselves to get ready for the summer.
It is incredibly triggering for those who have overcome disconnection with their bodies, eating disorders, and those that are still very much battling with their body figure. It is not funny neither trivial. It is shaming women’s bodies when they deserve to be celebrated. It is what we call "diet culture" and we should have the right to say no to it, because we deserve to be able to look forward without the pressure of changing ourselves.
We deserve to be able to focus on joy, focus on celebrating how incredible we are for making it through this year.
Our mental health has been tested to new limits, we have been isolated and disconnected and now we are being told that we should test it some more? I say no.
Cultivate your social feeds, don’t involve yourself in conversations around how much weight you need to lose for when lockdown ends. Protect yourself first and if you find yourself feeling the need to change your body, know that is okay as we are being fed these harassing messages. But also know that you don’t have to. It is not something you need to add to the already heavy load you have carried.
Your body has helped you through this time, it has carried you and asked nothing in return. It is the very thing that is going to carry you through the next few months before you can enjoy your life outside of these restrictions. Please don’t feel that it is not enough, that there is something wrong with it. There is only one culprit here, and it is our "diet culture" rearing its ugly head at a time where we should all be feeling hope.
Your body is beautiful and you are not required to change it because a meme told you to.
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