Recently on Facebook I was invited to join a group called “healthy mums”. Great I thought, I’m a big fan of being healthy (with a little bit of indulgence now and again). And also because of the work I do I’m always nosy about things like Facebook groups and how mums approach their post-baby bodies.
So I joined and clicked through to see what being a ‘healthy mum’ means.
Apparently it means you want to buy their product aimed at helping you lose lots of weight.
Since when did healthy become synonymous with thin?
By linking using healthy to describe weight loss it creates a picture where if we want to be healthy we must also want to be thin. Because clearly you can’t be healthy if you’re not slim. Or you can’t want to be healthy but not worry about your weight. As you might expect there are lots of posts about how much the mums weigh, how much they’ve lost or how badly they need to lose the weight. But there’s nothing about how to feel good about yourself emotionally or how to love your body. Unless its about how losing weight will make you feel great of course.
Which is a little (or a lot) sad really. For most of those women any weight loss probably won’t be permanent (research shows that something like 90% of people have gained all the weight back within 5 years). And if the posts in the group are anything to go by for most of those women it will also be really hard. So they are pinning their hopes of happiness on something that might be unattainable or fleeting once achieved.
And what then? If we tell mums that it’s being thin that matters then what happens when they are not? What happens when they are healthy, when they are following the plan but they still don’t look the way they want? It’s just not that straightforward. Age; hormones; stress levels and general health all have a part to play in weight loss (or gain) so being ‘healthy’ isn’t a guarantee that they will lose weight.
Then lets think about how they feel whilst they are on their weight loss journey. Who wants to be on a journey where you have to get to the end to feel great? Where your body confidence is completely tied up in how much weight you lose. For a lot of women it can take months or years to lose the weight they want. That’s a long time to keep feeling shitty about your body.
Surely it’s better that we help mums to build true body confidence, at any size.
That way weight loss becomes optional. If you feel good about yourself as you are you might not feel so desperate to lose weight. You might (*gasp*) feel happy with who you are and be proud of your body. And even if you do still decide that you want to lose weight for health reasons, wouldn’t it be nice to feel fab whilst you do it!