You do not need to get your body post-lockdown ready


Content Warning: Diet culture and restrictive eating

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Image by Piqsels

By Emily Smith

With the Government’s latest announcement and the planned roadmap out of lockdown, the country is abuzz with the prospect of our social lives rising from the grave. Social media blew up with what people would be wearing on the first night out, or who they’re going to see first. But alongside this rush to make summer plans and gain back our freedom, there’s a darker side to the 21 June Memes: diet culture. Ever since the announcement, my timeline has been heaving with ‘jokes’ about having four months to look a certain way for ‘hot girl summer.’ I’ve seen way too many memes about only eating a plate of ice, or the ‘Fat Barbie with three chins’ in the last few days. Although these ‘jokes’ may seem lighthearted to some, they are actually hugely problematic. In the wrong hands these posts, promoting restrictive eating, can be incredibly triggering.

This is incredibly damaging and, quite frankly, dangerous thinking. We have to stop comparing ourselves to what we looked like pre-Covid. We collectively have been stuck inside for months on end, of course our bodies are going to look different by the end of it. It's incredibly sad that as a generation, our first thoughts upon freedom are the ways we need to alter our bodies before normality resumes. It’s been a year; your body has changed and grown with you in this time, so please don’t punish it.

Of course it’s normal to feel bad about your weight. We live in a society where the normative beauty standards are petite and influencers post highly edited ‘transformation’ photos only perpetuating unrealistic body standards further. But your weight does not define your worth.

Lockdown has been physically and mentally challenging, so please don’t punish yourself or your body on top of dealing with everything else. You deserve to come out of this and have fun, regardless of the way your body has changed in the meantime.

It’s been a year; your body has changed and grown with you in this time, so please don’t punish it.

At the same time, I’m not saying being healthy is a bad thing – it’s quite the opposite. But the two are not mutually exclusive; you can look after your body without placing unrealistic standards on yourself. I’m also not against anyone who wishes to get fit, but only if you want to, not because you feel like you have to. It is the damaging relationship between rapid weight loss and self hatred that is the problem here.

Whether intended to be lighthearted humour or not, these jokes can be incredibly triggering for those who suffer from disordered eating and are very fatphobic. Not to mention most of these jokes are directed at women. Take the term ‘hot girl summer’ for example. I haven’t heard the term ‘hot guy summer’ being thrown around in this discourse, as if the only value a woman is assigned is her body and the way she looks. Diet culture is so rampant and ingrained into our society that these harmful ‘jokes’ have been normalised and go largely unquestioned. These jokes are not and never will be funny.

Diet culture is also something inherently linked into our capitalist system. The weight loss industry is a multi billion pound industry that directly profits from your insecurities and perpetuates them for monetary gain. We can be sure that between now and June, these industries are only going to grow as this unhealthy discourse is spread. Companies peddling products such as detox teas or liquid meals (and the money grabbing influencers that promote them) only care about profiting from your self hatred and not about your physical and mental health. These products are ineffective, promote unhealthy relationships with food, assign values of good and bad to certain food groups, and not to mention are downright awful for your body.

If you’re reading this and you feel pressured into losing weight before 21 June please know that your weight does not define your worth. Instead go out, buy some new clothes if you want to and treat yourself. This ‘hot girl summer’ does not come from how much you weigh, it comes from your own self confidence.  Besides, when you finally hug, laugh and spend time with your loved ones again, they’re not going to be thinking about your body, they’re going to be thinking how beautiful it is to be reunited with you, regardless of your weight.

So if you’re leaving lockdown weighing more than when you went in, please don’t beat yourself up about it. Besides who really cares? We’re living through a huge physical and mental health crisis. The same body that you are berating for ‘piling on the pounds’ has got you through and kept you alive during a global pandemic. That’s something that should be celebrated, not punished.