Stop telling me and everyone else we need to get a “summer body”

Weight stigmatization is very real and very unhealthy

More stories from Faith Hultman



Eat To Shrink: Hultman disgustedly holds a copy of Health magazine, which promotes weight loss all over the cover and has numerous articles inside telling women to lose weight, despite their weight gain being attributed to natural, healthy reasons such as childbirth

There is a lot of pressure in today’s society to be thin, especially around this time of year. Summer is coming, and with summer comes about a million ads promoting weight loss, “bikini bodies” and sculpted abs.

We’ve all seen it, and maybe some of us up our cardio in the spring, or start to do ab challenges, or attempt to cut out all the ice cream and donuts that our cafeteria has to offer.

I have a few problems with this weight loss expectation, to say the least.

Why is “skinny” assumed to be healthy, and why is “fat” assumed to be unhealthy? Even “medium weight” women feel the pressure to lose weight, despite being at no kind of weight-based health risk.

Who are we to judge someone’s health based solely on their weight? Health has many factors.

A thin person can hate themselves, their life and their body all while being seen as “healthy” by the majority of general society. An overweight person can love themselves, their life and their body and not only will they be seen as “unhealthy,” but as lazy, unethical and unattractive.

Searching “weight stigma” on EBSCOhost yields 3,351 results. Literally thousands of scientific studies have been done on this very real prejudice.

According to a 2013 Hastings Center Report, a survey of patients who had lost one hundred pounds after having gastric bypass surgery yielded results that said nearly every patient would rather be deaf, blind, have heart disease or lose a leg than gain back the weight they lost. Every single respondent said they would give up being a multimillionaire to be a normal weight.

This sure sounds “healthy” to me.

I understand obesity is a growing problem in America, and with obesity comes health risks. What I don’t understand is why this gives people the right to make assumptions about a person based on their weight.

When you see a thin or an overweight person, you don’t know anything about them. You don’t know the status of their mental health, you don’t know their family’s genetic history, you don’t know what their priorities are.

According to a study published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information in 2009, perceived weight discrimination was associated with weight gain in hundreds of participants.

When we as a society “encourage” people to lose weight, we actually increase their weight gain and promote unhealthy self image and behavior.

Something promoted as being healthy can yield distinctly unhealthy results. When someone is shamed for their appearance it has a definite negative effect on their psyche.

The next time you work out, don’t do it solely to lose weight and fit into the mold society says is acceptable. Do it because it relieves your anxiety, because you want to be able to run up the hill without collapsing, because you love yourself.
Here’s the deal folks: A human body is an amazing thing. It can do many things. No matter what yours looks like, you should appreciate what it has been doing for you, not hate it based on societal stigmas. Love yourself, and wear the dang bikini if you want to.