Riots Not Diets

The peace you seek won’t be found in bids for control

Updated January 27, 2023

Last week, I wrote about how difficult it can be to feel relaxed around what we consider “holiday food,” the kind of stuff that is often rich, sugary, dense, creamy, and so on.

The reality is that no single meal is going to harm you. But because of the culture we live in, it FEELS like harm is lurking around every latke, cheese ball and bar of Toblerone. 

The ones who seem like they are immune from harm are the ones who are the thinnest among us, those people who just never seem to gain weight. It’s what we secretly long for ourselves: to be able to go to a holiday party, eat whatever we want, and not worry our waistlines (or our “health”). We want that same sense of ease around all that holiday food. 

Here’t the thing, though: Feeling at ease inside of ourselves is entirely independent from what we look like on the outside.

Yes, it ABSOLUTELY makes your life easier to have thin privilege, pretty privilege, race and class privilege. It helps to be able-bodied and young, so that people don’t stare at you pityingly. We know this is true because many of us have experienced it first-hand. Research has also shown how much chronic stress (aka allostatic load) people living in marginalized bodies have. That chronic stress, in turn, has a negative impact on health. That is all real and true.

HOWEVER. If we could only feel at ease if we were thin, we wouldn’t have Lizzo shaking her booty for the camera.

We also wouldn’t have thin people standing at the buffet table feeling like the roast potatoes are absolutely SCREAMING at them, while forcing themselves to take the tiniest portion (resulting in going HAM on the leftovers when they get home).

Meeting a beauty standard in no way inoculates us from the pain of being human.

“Beautiful” people (by current standards) like Giselle Bundchen have spouses that pick their careers over them. Beautiful people like Beyoncé gets cheated on. Beautiful people like Gwyneth Paltrow have their marriages end. 

The promise of being smaller is that you will have enough control of your life that you will never have to feel pain.

This is simply untrue. The better, more meaningful, more sustainable route to peace and ease is to get clear on your relationship with YOU, in this one life (and body) you have to live.

Yes, controlling your weight might get your mom off your back (temporarily) or your Uncle Melvin when he pokes a finger into your side and comments on your body.

But those kinds of boundary violations do NOT get solved by your manipulating your appearance. So next week, I’ll show some boundary phrases you can use in those and other classic holiday situations.

Remember, prioritizing your peace is all about showing up for yourself, not catering to what other people think of you. But it’s got to start with your own understanding that you are worth showing up for.