Health

Feminists don’t diet!

Shaming women for dieting is as bad as shaming them for being fat, says Laura Marcus.

My name is Laura, I’m a feminist, I’m fat and I’m on a diet…

When Adele lost a shedload of weight and posted a picture of herself on Instagram looking svelte and gorgeous, she faced a feminist backlash.

Seems it’s not enough for women to be body shamed for being overweight because now they are shamed for trying to do something about it!

Other celebrities, including former model and radio presenter Kelly Brook and X-Factor winner Alexandra Burke, have also been criticised for losing weight.

So shameful has dieting become that more than a quarter of dieters aged 18 to 34 told a Slimfast survey they would not admit they were trying to lose weight because they did not want to be labelled ”anti-feminist”.

Of the 17 million women who are likely to try to lose weight this year, nearly seven million of them will hide the fact they are dieting from at least one person they know.

Well I’m not hiding it! My name is Laura, I’m a feminist, I’m fat and I’m on a diet.

There’s nothing anti feminist about doing what you feel is right for you. Feminism is supposed to be about choice or it’s about nothing at all. But it seems to me, feminism keeps being taken in for a rebrand none of us asked for. Who said it’s anti feminist to go on a diet? I never got the memo.

I’m on a diet because I need to lose weight. Along with millions of others I’m worried that being overweight puts me at risk of Type 2 Diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, a heart attack and even some forms of cancer.

And of course there are serious implications if you get Covid-19 and you’re overweight; worse if you’re obese. Also you could damage joints and require new knees and hips if you’re carrying around too much weight. Why wouldn’t you want to do something about that if you can?

Yes, we should be liked for who we are and we come in all shapes and sizes but fat isn’t a feminist issue; it’s a health one. And if you, like me, know you need to lose weight why should you feel any shame for trying to? Keeping it quiet until there’s a noticeable weight loss makes complete sense to me. Keeping it quiet because you think you’ll be castigated for being a bad feminist is ridiculous.

That said it’s gratifying to learn young women are ashamed of dieting because it might be regarded as anti feminist. When I was a young feminist in the 1970s we were a very rare breed. Most women insisted they weren’t feminists for fear men might not like them – the horror, the horror! At least we’ve moved on from that and I’m glad young women are concerned about being good feminists. So they should be. But there’s nothing remotely anti feminist about going on a diet if you need to lose weight.

Feminism is about choice or it’s about nothing. If you don’t want to diet and think it’s more important we accept people for the shape they are fine. I totally agree. If that’s your choice you’re entitled to make it and I stand with you.

But shaming women for dieting is as bad as shaming them for being fat! In fact, why don’t we just stop shaming women altogether? Wouldn’t that be novel?

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Laura Marcus

Laura Marcus is a freelance journalist and broadcaster.

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