As is customary (if not essentially mandatory) for women who are about to be married, I’ve been on a diet for the last few weeks.
In my case, I’m not trying desperately to fit into a wedding dress that I bought in an optimistically low size or to get ready for a beach trip immediately after the ceremony. I’m just trying to look hot for the photographs that are going to be hanging in my house for the rest of my life.
As you can imagine, everyone has an opinion about this. Most of the opinions have been some variation of, “You don’t need to be on a diet, you look great!” While largely unhelpful, it’s at least nice to hear.
But every once in a while, someone will tell me that I don’t need to be on a diet, and they’ll try to drag some unrelated bullshit into it. Usually this comes as someone saying, “Why do you think you need to lose weight? You should stop comparing yourself to models on Instagram.”
Here’s why this bugs me: I’m not comparing myself to any models, anywhere.
Never once have I looked at someone else’s body and thought that I would try to make myself look like that. I mean, maybe if you count the time in middle school that Anna McCormick got her belly button pierced so then I asked my mom if I could get my belly button pierced, but really I was just testing societal boundaries.
No, the truth is that I’ve really never been the kind of person to compare myself to someone else and then decide that I’m too fat or too flabby or too whatever else.
But I’ll sure as hell compare myself against myself and realize that I could be working harder, and that’s something that no one else can seem to understand.
I felt like I needed to slim down a little before the wedding photos because I was sitting about 20lbs higher on the scale than where I feel comfortable in my body. That’s it. All I did was compare myself when I looked and felt my absolute best to how I looked and felt at present, and realized where I’d rather be. No girl on Instagram had any bearing on the decision.
So it’s caused me to start wondering why everyone else always jumps right to that assumption, and I’ve got a couple of theories.
First, it’s generally out of vogue right now to be talking about losing weight. Everyone is really into a specific brand of Body Positivity in 2020, and/or is currently leaning in to gaining the “quarantine fifteen.” The only people I see still talking about diet and exercise is Fitness Instagram, so it’s a reasonable assumption that I’m getting my motivation from there, although it happens to be incorrect nonetheless.
But I think this is most likely an instance where Occam’s Razor is best applied, and thus the simplest and most obvious explanation is the correct one: you think I’m comparing my body to other people’s because that’s what you’re doing.
And all I can say to that is that you should stop.
All you’re going to do is make yourself unhappy over what other people are accomplishing, when it doesn’t have anything to do with you. (And I promise, unless you’re my ex-boyfriend, I am not losing weight AT you.)
I’m doing me, and I’m catching flak for it, because you’re not doing you.
So maybe from here out, we all stop judging ourselves against others and instead everyone tries to hit a personal best. And then no one has to end up with an infected belly button, so that’s a win for everyone.