I hate New Year’s. There’s this awful tradition in which everyone over-analyzes everything they’ve done throughout the year and decides what to improve on next year. They talk about ‘becoming a better you’ and cutting out negative habits. As someone who is all for goal-setting, everyone assumes that I have some pretty amazing New Year’s resolutions and to some degree they’re not wrong: I do make a lot of goals and resolutions for myself. I actually love making goals for myself and I really value self-improvement. I’ve spent a lot of time in school and in treatment learning about S.M.A.R.T. goals, and I really appreciate how many times I was forced to go over what each of those damn letters meant (S for Specific, M for Measurable, yadda yadda yadda) because I have the skills to make goals for myself that don’t set me up for failure. I used to set impossible goals for myself – “I’m going to work full-time and do school full-time with a practicum, all while maintaining my relationship, all my friendships, be successful blah blah blah” and the list of impossible goals goes on. S.M.A.R.T goals have helped me to reframe my thoughts and create goals that will set me up for success, and I’m truly thankful for this learning because I don’t get caught up in the stereotypical New Year’s Eve bullshit idea that I need to “be a better me”.
What does “be a better me” even mean? Because if I look at other people’s resolutions, it seems to be about changing our bodies. In 2018, 45% of Americans made losing weight their New Year’s Resolution. In 2019, 48% of Americans wanted to lose weight or change their body once the New Year came around. It may seem a little cynical, but I’m actually glad that on average 80% of people give up on their goal a few months into the year. I know how bad that sounds and I truly believe that dieting is not the way to “be a better you”.
Our society praises people who are in a thinner body. That’s the truth. It’s a sad truth – and it’s the only truth I know. Even as I was losing weight (a.k.a succumbing to my eating disorder), people were praising me, telling me that I had never looked better before. One night after posting a picture of my boyfriend and I (in which I was wearing a form-fitting dress), I got a message from a girl I had gone to highschool with telling me that I looked so good and that she wanted to know how she could achieve the same results. Once, as I was getting out of my car after parking in a relatively tight parking space, a woman commented on the situation by saying “thank god you’re skinny.” Being thin is what so many people aspire to achieve and for a while, I did too. Now, I know that’s the voice of my eating disorder calling me back to it.
The good news? I have a feeling things may be starting to change. Only 30% of Canadians are planning to diet in the New Year. Now, this could mean a lot of things: maybe people don’t have the money to support diet fads or to shop for specific food; maybe we think it’s unrealistic to commit to a diet in the middle of a pandemic; or maybe you’re like me,sick of the bullshit idea that losing weight makes you better. Realistically, this change from 2019’s resolutions (48% of Canadians planned to diet) could be because of any number of reasons, and I would like to believe that there is a shift towards body normality and acceptance.
I really want to believe in this change. I love that our society is finally bringing people of all sizes into social media because all people of all sizes deserve to feel beautiful. I’m sick and tired of this idea that there is only one way to be beautiful because that is not true. I can name so many people that are beautiful in so many different ways and each of them have beautiful bodies of every shape and size. We need to normalize bodies of larger sizes and stop seeing ‘fat’ as a bad word.
Here’s to all my lovely fat followers: there is absolutely nothing about you that you need to change. Please do not fall into this vicious cycle of believing that your body makes you less of a person. You do not need to change yourself or your body in order for people to fall in love with you and who you are. Every inch of you is beautiful and valid. Absolutely goddamn beautiful.
Look, if you want to make New Year’s Resolutions, I won’t stop you. In fact, I’ll encourage you. Any opportunity to make a new goal for yourself is an opportunity worth taking. And don’t wait for New Years Eve to roll around in order to begin your journey of self-improvement. You deserve to begin your journey when it’s best for you rather than under the pressure of this New Years tradition.
Just please remember, losing weight will not make you a better you.