Staff Editorial: Weight loss resolutions are so last year

Duke Editorial Staff

Auld acquaintances were forgotten as the ball dropped on 2021, and thus, we ring in the New Year. 2022 is bringing in the opportunity for fresh starts on all fronts: from our progress with the Covid-19 pandemic as a nation, to the small problems we deal with in our own lives.

We kissed the old year goodbye and talked about our plans for New Year’s resolutions that almost never come to fruition. But we make them regardless. Some choose to pursue a new hobby, others to spend more time with family, but the most common resolutions always surround our health — particularly our weight.

While focusing on health isn’t inherently an issue, and more than likely is a great promise to make to yourself, America’s obsession with weight loss — or more so fatphobia — seems to become more apparent during January.

The new year is a time when diet culture, fatphobia and capitalism intersect. As a way to exploit our goal to ‘start over’ and highlight our insecurities, weight loss companies and gyms alike ramp up advertisements, while also reducing rates, and promise to realize our dream of becoming “fit” again.

It’s easy to be fooled by the front of body positivity, but behind the curtain is a dangerous message: Your body isn’t good enough, and you need to fix it.

It perpetuates a long time social stigma of skinniness in our culture, when in reality, skinniness doesn’t equate to healthiness. According to a 2021 poll by Statista, 50% of Americans pointed out that they wanted to exercise or improve their fitness. Out of the top five resolutions, three were related to weight loss.

Instead of promoting the perfect body in the Planet Fitness commercial — even with the promise of no “gymtimidation” — or Weight Watchers advertising a new diet deal for 40 lbs of weight loss, there are better ways to promote health, and better resolutions to have regarding our health. 

According to Penn Medicine, bodies aren’t even designed to diet. Research shows that 80 to 98% of dieting attempts don’t work long term, and two out of three dieters eventually gain back the weight they lose.

We must focus instead on promoting healthy bodies, rather than socially acceptable body types. So, cross off “lose weight” on the resolution list and replace it with “work on my health.”

Eating healthier, going to regular check ups with a primary care physician, exercising, going to a mental health professional and working on a better sleep schedule all contribute to the goal of getting fit. 

There’s no reason to shame fatness, when fatness isn’t really the problem — our socially accepted view of it, is.