Sunday, November 21, 2010

The fallacy of Happy Weight.

Lately I've been really thinking about the term "happy weight", and how disordered that statement really is. Ever since Self magazine coined the term, I've heard so many women refer to their "happy weight", or more accurately, what their "happy weight" is, or will be. Again, reinforcing that a certain weight/ body size= happiness. I think it's become a convenient way to justify disordered eating habits, and dysmorphic body images. Why not "my happy self" or my "best version" or just "healthy-body mind spirit" all together? The fact that it's been assimilated into our society at such a rapid state just goes to emphasizes our unhealthy fixation on weight loss, diets, and being judged and ultimately, ONLY worthy when we reach that certain "magical" number (which never ends up being low enough, or good enough). And then,- only then, can we truly be happy. We need to realize that being/feeling "happy" isn't a something have to earn, or only have a right to feel if we've met some sort of ridiculous societal standard. We all have the right to be happy- regardless of size, and even more so because happiness is intrinsic to our well-being. It is not an alienable right that only certain people deserve to have. Think about it, what exactly does a "happy weight" really mean? They are two words that have nothing to do with one another. Without happiness, what is the point of life? To ascribe 'happiness' with weight is ludicrous.

I am in no way advocating obesity, or saying one should just let themselves go. That isn't healthy body mind spirit. But what about being happy with the person you are because of WHO you are? Not what the scale says? A little self-acceptance goes a long way, and leads to a healthy mind, which translates to a healthy body as well. A healthy mind leads to making healthy, sound decisions. You aren't prone to binge eat when you have a healthy mind. When you aren't emotionally binge- eating, you are usually at peace with yourself and life. You are in your HAPPY PLACE! You aren't trying to stuff down feelings, fill an emotional void and numb yourself to life. Your sense of self allows you to fill yourself with love.

 I recently was in the grocery store browsing isles when I saw a girl (about 17) talking on the phone. While I didn't hear her entire conversation, I noticed her definite frustration, and confusion while trying to decide what to buy. She looked overwhelmed and so unsure of herself. She kept picking up boxes, looking at them, hesitating and putting them back, while she listened to whomever was on the phone. She finally asked her friend in exasperation "I don't know what I should buy!!? I don't know what do get!". Her friend must have suggested something, as she replied immediately "I can't!!! I'm on a diet. I need to lose 5 lbs". Now this girl was a stick- the type that can fit into Aritzia size 0 pants. Her friend said something, and this poor girl threw out this rhetoric, "Well, not more than 10. But just 'tone up'". Her friend must have interjected with shock, saying she doesn't need to lose ANY weight, as the girl finally ended the conversation  by saying "Well I just want to get healthy. I'm not at my happy weight, Ok!!!? Just 5-10lbs and I'll be happy. I just want to get this roll of flab off my stomach before Christmas- then I'll be happy". She sounded defensive, frustrated and so naive. She could have gained a good 20lbs and still been skinny.

You would think with age comes maturity, but this is obviously not the case. I hear woman constantly discussing diets, fast weight loss, "does it really work", the "magic quick fix" and magazines with Diets and celebrity diet secrets are constantly the best selling. Unfortunately, it is the older of us who have sadly- unintentionally- given this message, perpetuated it and spread it like wild fire. I hate to blame media/TV- I think that ultimately, celebrity culture doesn't impact our mind-set all that much, unless the mind is already 'sick". Only then do we view these celebrities as 'perfect' and strive to fit into sample size 0s. If we have a healthy mind, attitude, sense of self and perception, we regard these TV shows and celebrities as just what they are- normal people working. We don't need to look for outside acceptance as a source of validation and joy. And our weight wouldn't dictate how much we like ourselves that particular day. We strive to be our best self, live, laugh, learn, and grow. We relish all that life throws at us, and can shake off the bad along with appreciating the good. We don't focus on the size of our jeans (it's just a number!), food, what we ate, how much etc. We would love food, look forward to it, eat what we want, and get on with our life. No fixation, not 'data mining' into dissecting what we ate, and what this means about who we are and how we should view ourselves.

 Self-love goes a long way. Instead of using terms like the fairly 'innocuous' happy weight, let's just focus on our 'happiest selves'. What makes us shine, and have a zest for life? When are we at our best, happiest and most confident selves? So I propose that today instead of the scale, our plates, foods, and body image dictating how much we can love ourselves, we just appreciate how wonderful and blessed we are and decide to be happy in spite of our 'flaws'. Our Self-Image and worth ISN'T reflected in the mirror! Let's focus on being our HAPPIEST selves, living our best lives.... Scale not included!

What makes you happy?

When do you feel the most at peace with yourself and life?

The most content and tranquil?

When are you the happiest?

How can one get out of the mind set that your weight dictates who you are or how you feel?
What are your thoughts on the term "Happy Weight"?


  1. Oh my God. Barbara, I SO agree with you!! I love this post. Because I've always been irked by the idea of a "happy weight". Guess what? I lost more than half my body weight and I was still not at my "happy weight". You can't try to manipulate your body to fit your emotions and personal perspectives on health and beauty.

    Everyone is striving to be happy...but for me, I cannot be happy until I am absolutely clear about who I am, and why I am...and that all ties to my faith. ONce that is clear, you realize that this body, the physical shell, is nothing but a tool to perform what you were meant to do in life. :)

  2. I really like this post and what you are trying to say here! I have never thought about weight this way and that there shouldn't be 'the happy weight'. Happiness and weight do not have anything to do with each other but our society has interlinked them like them are siblings!
    Thank you for putting these thoughts into my head and realizing that happiness is something I will never find on the scale