a bodacious babe and very good friend sent me this on Facebook, and it’s fucking brilliant.
Listen. I want to tell you something very long. I love Oprah. Long-time Oprah-lover over here. And I am glad for her that she made 70 million dollars on the first day of her deal with Weight Watchers. That amount of money will be heavy and if she binds it together, she can use it to weigh down stacks of her other money so none of it blows away when she opens a window in one of her many beautiful homes.
On New Year’s Day, as I loafed in bed, honoring my resolution to watch more TV, every commercial break for every show was this Weight Watchers commercial with Oprah. So many times. I mean, we all got 70 million dollars worth of Oprah just that morning alone. But, by the 9th or 10th time hearing her talk about how we’re gonna go on this journey together, I had an epiphany. I have put on my sneakers and jogged down this road with Oprah before! I cried with joy for her when she dragged a wagon of fat onstage, representing what she had lost. Lord knows I have considered dragging a wagon of fat around to celebrate the 3 or 4 times I have lost 60 pounds. Then, when it creeped back on, as it is like to do, I was glad I never did that.
My epiphany was this: Oprah is arguably the most accomplished, admired, able person in the world. She creates magic for other people and herself on the regular. So, if Oprah can’t do permanent lifelong weight loss, maybe it can’t be done. Oprah is also crazy rich. If Oprah can’t buy permanent lifelong weight loss, maybe it can’t be bought. And that sucks. But it is also incredibly freeing if you, like me, have thought about your weight so many times throughout every day of your life that it becomes as maddening and distracting as if you’d stowed a beating tell-tale heart beneath your floorboards.
I’m not saying you should give up on your dreams of having the body you want. I’m just asking, if you never get that waist, will your life have been a waste? (I see what I did there.) Every day we are bombarded with media, content and products. Special foods and drinks. Programs and plans. None of this shit has ever worked for Oprah and it probably isn’t gonna work for me or you. Not forever, anyway. Some science has said this.
Speaking of…every day that jackass science comes up with another possible reason for the so-called “epidemic” America, and almost every other country, is facing. It’s because of portion sizes. It’s because of processed foods. It’s because of genetically modified wheat. It’s because of our microbiomes. It’s because of stress and cortisol. It’s because of a virus. It’s because of insulin resistance. It’s because we no longer use scythes to harvest rye. The reason I hear about every piece of news relating to weight loss is because besides having an automatic Google search set up for my name and for the TV show I work on, for years, I’ve also had a Google search for “obesity.” That’s…sad. Maybe someday they will figure out the reason for it, but I do know the reason isn’t not trying hard enough. Oprah fucking tries harder than anyone and nearly every other thing she’s ever tried in her life has been a smashing fucking success, so she’s pretty good at knowing how to try.
I know the reason isn’t because you’re weak. If you’re carrying around 10 or 20, or 50 or 150 pounds more than the tiny friend who always calls herself fat in front of you and you don’t kick her in the back of the knee, you’re the opposite of weak. You’re very, very strong in at least two different kind of ways.
I know the reason isn’t because you’re a bad person. Unless you gained weight from eating puppies and babies. But, if you just ate some pizza like everyone else does all the time without giving it a second thought? What is bad about that? And, yes, eating sensibly is a great idea. 2 eggs. 4 ounces of chicken. 1 cup of Brussels sprouts. 1/3 cup of polenta. That’s what I’ve eaten today. Very sensible. I’ve gotten in the habit of memorizing what I put in my mouth so that I can write it down later. I have years of food journals stretching back to when I should have been writing about my crush on Nicholas from “Eight is Enough” and what I hoped Santa would bring me that year. (I probably would have said that I wanted a Barbie Dream House, Wonderwoman Underoos – size extra husky, and to get skinny. Even then.) Do you think Oprah doesn’t have the resources to pull together teams of people to tell her what is sensible to eat? And to berate her when she becomes emotional, breaks down and eats a potato? Where is the sense in any of that?
I realize there are people who are DYING to tell you what they think about what you should do with your body. It always starts with, “No offense but…” or “Not to be mean, but…” And it’s always offensive and mean, but also, you probably say things to yourself every day that are way meaner than what any “well-intentioned” “friend” or internet troll could come up with. You’re gonna have to try harder if you want to beat us at our own game, internet trolls. I would pop someone in the chops if they spoke to me the way I speak to myself. And I would bet all of Oprah’s money that Oprah says mean shit to herself too. Oprah does.
I’ve heard some ladies I really like on some reality shows using the phrase, “Get your life,” and I think I finally understand what they mean. Nobody is doing you a favor by thinking you are sexy even if some BMI chart says you don’t deserve life insurance. Nobody is doing you a favor by thinking you kick so much ass at your job even if the business suit you are wearing was purchased at Lane Bryant. Nobody deserves your gratitude for “looking past” your weight. Those people are just seeing things the way a minimally non-garbage person is supposed to. You’re earning everything above and beyond that. You’re “getting your life,” and the people around you are getting some of their life from you. And if that isn’t happening right now, it’s not because you’ve failed to become svelte. It’s because the people around you are turd burglars whose biggest accomplishment, apparently, is owning a shorter belt.
You can do what you want. You knew that. But I’m gonna stop wishing that I didn’t have dimples on the backs of my hands or that my ankles were more flattered by strappy shoes. I’m gonna stop telling people that they look great and start telling them what I really mean, that’s it’s nice to see them. And I see you. And I like you so much just how you are right now, and not a year or five years from now when you may or may not be smaller. I hope Oprah gets what she wants, and maybe 70 million dollars in one day is the motivator that will finally make it happen for her, once and for all. But I think I’m gonna stop wanting something that I might never get even though I’m very good and very strong and I try very hard all the time. I’m gonna take a break on all that, at least for a little while. Let me know how it turns out this time, though, Oprah. I’ll love you either way.
have the oprah weight watchers commercials been bothering you? the first one my mom and i saw together, she said it made her so sad. after all of these years, and all of her success, is it possible that oprah is still not happy with the body she’s in? are you still struggling with finding, figuring out your healthy weight? is your body still your enemy?
if so, it’s okay. maybe today, maybe tomorrow, will be the day.
words by navyirah waheed on instagram
drawing by a sketchy mind
this is really important. all this stuff. and it feels like there is an awakening happening, a shift.
maybe it’s the people and ideas that i’m choosing to absorb. maybe it’s that i’m no longer believing mainstream media. maybe it’s because i am no longer willing to fight with my body.
i’m viewing, reading, researching, listening, sharing, absorbing, mainlining body positivity. i have such a thirst, it’s unquenched.
i have a b.a. in psychology and my senior project used art therapy techniques to process and share experiences for women over a certain BMI. i should have kept going, working on this in grad school (and maybe at some point i’ll get back there).
if you’re thirsty too, a great place to start is here, with Debby Burgard, Ph.D.
“Body Positive explores taking up occupancy inside your own skin, rather than living above the chin until you’re thin. It is a set of ideas that may help you find greater well-being in the body you have. One of these ideas is to define “healthy weight” not from a generic height/weight chart or even arbitrary Body Mass Index cut-offs, but rather as the weight your body is when you are living a reasonable life. It is the weight at which your unique body seems to “settle” when you are not obsessing about food and exercise. It is the weight your body may try to “defend” if you diet, or (conversely) if you eat more than your body is hungry for. For most women, this weight is higher than they want it to be, since our culture deems the leanest bodies as the most desirable. It seems probable that people come in a range of fatness, just like they come in a range of heights. We don’t think it’s bad for someone to be tall or short, but lots of people feel bad to be heavier than average (or even average!) these days.
In practice, the focus of Body Positive is not on weight at all, but rather the decisions you make day-to-day about how to parent yourself and meet your needs.”
the body positive website has some great information, some great resources, and is a great place to get the proverbial ball rolling.
next post will highlight some of my absolute favs in the bopo movement.
find joy. stay strong. and stay tuned.