Remember the early stages of the pandemic when you thought that you’d only be stuck at home for two weeks, tops? And then you thought it would be a little bit longer, but by summer we would all be back to normal again?
You may have spent your time at home committing yourself to at-home workouts. Maybe you were already a gym rat and wanted to stay consistent while gyms were closed, or you’re like most of us—never kept up with exercise but had nothing better to do, felt guilty about not working out at home since now you had no other excuse, and wanted to prepare your body for the summer when you’d be back on the beach and ready to show Instagram your brand new glow-up.
The problem is, this pandemic has lasted a long time.
So long, that those of you who worked out and initially reached your goals might have found yourselves slipping back into old comfortable habits throughout the past few months. An intense two weeks of Chloe Ting workouts in April may have given you abs that have now softened. Your strict meal planning could’ve turned into ordering food on Doordash four times a week. You don’t look or feel like what you decided to look or feel like at the start of this pandemic.
And that’s completely okay.
Truthfully, diet culture and our society’s ideas surrounding fitness are unrealistic, unhealthy, and sometimes even anti-Black. The notions about what “obesity” means are simply oppressive and make it more difficult to love ourselves, because we punish ourselves for enjoying food. Whether you’re aware of it or not, fatphobia is the reason why you feel guilty about eating “junk food” in the house all day. Fatphobia is the reason why you got on Twitter to see people saying that you absolutely should be doing home workouts and getting on a meal plan now that we’re indoors more, because you now have “no excuses.”
People are quite literally dying.
Over 200,000 lives have been lost in America alone, with eleven million cases of COVID-19 having been reported in the country. Families have been destroyed, and the world has been in a public and ongoing state of grief for months. In the midst of all this, why and how do we still find time to police fat people? If inaccurate notions of “health” and unrealistic #bodygoals are still on our minds in the midst of the turmoil in our country, it means that the pervasiveness of fatphobia is indeed harmful and needs to be addressed.
Of course, because the disdain for fatness is so deeply ingrained in our society, it’s normal to have insecure thoughts. As you have more time to ponder who you are and what you look like, self-consciousness is natural and you shouldn’t feel bad about it. You also shouldn’t feel bad about using exercise to feel happier and healthier during this moment if that’s what works for you too. The point is to avoid policing yourself and others. Work out because you want to maintain wellness and because it sparks joy, not because you think there’s something wrong with gaining weight. You need fats and carbs.
Also, before allowing diet culture—which most nutritionists warn against because of the harm it can do to our bodies—to make you feel guilty about what you eat, consider that the way we think about which foods are healthy and which aren’t is directly related to capitalism and anti-blackness.
On one hand, society promotes people being thin because this is a Eurocentric beauty standard, and corporations benefit from selling you things that will bring you closer to being slim. On the other hand, if food deserts in this country are overwhelmingly populated by Black working class/low income people who don’t have access to affordable healthy foods or can only afford fast food, how could our discourse surrounding “junk food” not be anti-Black and capitalistic?
There are boundless intersecting forms of oppression that work together to make Black women think our bodies are not worth loving. Self-love can look different for all of us. If the way you love on your body is through working out or maintaining a vegan diet, keep doing that. If you feel like getting Doordash tonight and haven’t left your couch in three days, do that too. The world is hard enough right now, and getting out of bed every morning is an accomplishment. Don’t allow fatphobia to cause you to police others and yourself.
Whatever your body looks like when you finally make it to the beach again is gorgeous and it is more than enough. Because it’s you. Your body is keeping you alive in the middle of a pandemic. Honor it by loving its appearance. Don’t let society turn self-care into self-harm.