Why I Hate Weight Watchers

Over the past couple months, I’ve been in the interesting position of being faced with the news that a couple different friends are embarking on paths in pursuit of intentional weight loss. One joined Weight Watchers and one had bariatric surgery.
These different news flashes presented me with a momentary conundrum: considering everything I have read and learned in the last decade about how intentional weight loss doesn’t work, and my own desire to be a size acceptance advocate*, what, I asked myself, should I say in response to these friends making choices I didn’t especially agree with?

Back in My Yoga Pants

Today’s schedule is entirely in the care of my detox/consciousness center. Since I’m with family today, I am garbed in my usual course weekend ensemble of yoga pants, layers and a light sweatshirt. Very different from yesterday’s ensemble.

The doctors’ office down here we used to get my HCG prescription markets HCG through the weight loss lens. Despite that, I give them much honor for being energetically cleaner about it than the places I researched in Boston. To my perception, the tone on the Boston places was all about glamour and enhancing women’s attractiveness to the patriarchy — which is why HCG was bundled in with Botox and laser peels. The doctor here in Atlanta seems more to speaking from a place of saying “this is really good for your body and it’ll help you lose weight!”

Now, there are lots of problematics with any line of discourse that draws a strong connective line between “healthy behaviors” and “weight loss.”  This was pretty brilliantly deconstructed over at Dances With Fat back in January, so rather than rehashing the subject tonight, I’ll content myself to providing a link and a brief quote from Ragen’s insightful analysis:

There is so much confusion about weight and health.  That causes people to confuse weight loss behaviors with healthy behaviors and that, in turn,  causes people to do unhealthy things under the false belief that they will be healthier when they get thinner no matter what they have to do to make it happen.  The next thing you know someone’s doctor has convinced them that the healthiest thing that they can do is have their stomach amputated.

Still, the cultural delusion equating healthy behavior with weight loss is really strong, and there’s a deep deep assumption that almost any woman in this culture wants to lose weight — and, statistically speaking, that assumption isn’t all that far off. So, given the desire of the doctor’s office to stay in business, I get why their marketing plays into the weight loss thing. Honestly, it would be naive of me to expect anything else.

Coming straight out of that cultural construct, it’s not real surprising that my intake form asked various questions about my history as a fatty: highest weight, lowest weight, past techniques attempted  in the inevitable quest to be skinny*, when and how my “weight problems” began, and what my current weight loss goal is for the HCG.

When I got my intake form on Wednesday to fill out, I wasn’t especially surprised to see this line of questioning. Okay, let’s be blunter: I wasn’t surprised one iota.

Despite my utter lack of surprise, it was fascinating to watch how hair-trigger my defensiveness and anger was around that section of the form. There’s the one in me that bitterly knows the pain of being fat-shamed and all the subtle destructiveness of fat microagressions. As my eyes took in the start of these questions and as my mind processed the reality that yes, we were coming up against THAT section, I could literally feel that one armoring up. “Here it comes,” she said, steeling herself. Steeling myself.

I left most of that section blank when I filled out the form Wednesday night.

So yesterday morning, as I was getting dressed, I was super conscious of how I was deliberately costuming or armoring myself for the doctor’s visit. Great sweater, skinny jeans, rockin’ boots. A indisputably Good Look for me.

Nope, my clothes were saying. I am not your self-hating fatty caricature. I am a woman learning to love herself who knows exactly how to dress so I feel confident and centered in my skin.

And with that extra bit of protection, I was able to be calm and matter-of-fact when the doctor and I went over my intake form with all its lacuna in my “history of fatness.” I was absolutely plain-spoken and honest about having a focus on health and detoxing, and not caring what my number on the scale is (or what it’ll be 4 weeks from now). And the medical staff acknowledged that they have clients before coming from a similar place.

I’m doing a lot in this journey to let connection and care in, to practice where and how I can be vulnerable, rather than staying perpetually turtled up in the psychic armor I so often try to wear.

Yesterday was an fascinating reminder that sometimes a little bit of protection is the perfect dose of self-care: something that allowed me to face an unfamiliar and somewhat triggering circumstance for the purpose of starting this detox movement. In other words: allowing myself the armoring movement around the little thing (my distaste for the culture’s weight loss obsession) gave me the space to remain open to the BIG thing (the HCG journey and the larger detox exploration).

That’s a tradeoff I’m entirely at peace with.

* Because as I’ve observed before, to not want to be skinny is pretty damned inconceivable.