…we’re all still being told — however indirectly — that we must continue to worry about becoming or being fat, but now we’re also being told not to worry about it, or rather, that we should add to our worries the worry over the worrying. But here’s a radical idea.
I KNOW, this sounds like a bananas notion. Who would have considered a lot of the stress we feel around the size and shape of our bodies could be expunged just by our simply deciding not to freak out about it anymore? But even science says that if only we can stop worrying about being fat so much, we will all probably feel better, and for some of us, possibly even wind up gaining less weight in the long run (not to mention avoid all the other health problems too much stress can lead to, regardless of your weight).
We could replace the fat worry with something else, something constructive, like, say, hmm, feeling good and subjectively healthy and strong in our bodies regardless of what they currently looks like. We could even spend some of that reclaimed worry-energy on positive reinforcement of the things we like about our bodies, and on being kinder, both to ourselves and to each other, and on not using “fat” as a negative or a pejorative, but as a neutral descriptor.
I am aware that saying “Just stop,” and actually stopping are two very distinct processes, especially considering that, for many people — and women in particular — this concern over body size is something we learned to incorporate into our self-assessment very early in life, and is a practice we have grown comfortable with, to the extent that in some cases we may not want to give it up.
So instead of suggesting we all stop, right now, forever, I’m going to suggest we stop for one day. Call it a social experiment. Set your alarm for it. I want to know if you can spend one day refusing to worry about being fat, or getting fat, or any other perceived imperfection of your body. When the worry appears, react as a fat-neutral zen monk might: Acknowledge its presence, and let it drift away as a cloud. Don’t focus on it.