Can we talk about personal responsibility?

Have you ever read an article online about body acceptance/fat acceptance, then wander (against your better judgment) down to the comments section? 

It's a mistake I keep making over and over again.

Anyway, during the 2 minutes or so that I can stomach the negativity, I see a barrage of insults and fat jokes laced with "Take responsibility for your health!!" comments.

Let's be clear: what these folks are really saying is, "Your idea of health should look like my idea of health. The size of your body is triggering my internalized fat-phobia and I'm going to take it out on you by screaming at you in the comments section of this article". 

It's annoying.

As someone who writes about the harmful effects of diet culture and our collective weight loss obsession, I hear the 'personal responsibility' argument all the time. One time I was told during a podcast interview by the host, "Well, we can't blame the culture for everything. We need to take control of our own actions."

Yes, I agree. 

But none of us is born wanting to lose weight. We're socialized to believe that it's a necessary part of our lives...something that should consume all of our time, mental and emotional energy.  

We learn that being fat is the worst thing you can be, especially as a woman. We see TV shows, commercials, magazines and social media accounts that prominently feature young, thin, white women as the pinnacle of beauty and success.

So let's stop pretending that this has NO influence on us. It's actually irresponsible to NOT talk about how diet culture denies our humanity and keeps us in a constant battle with ourselves.

Once I was able to see the connection between diet culture and my personal difficulty with food and my body, it was easier for me to let it go. And since then, I've been taking responsibility for myself by: 

  • prioritizing my mental and emotional health over trying to drop 20 pounds in time for summer

  • experiencing happiness and joy in THIS body

  • not subjecting myself to images and messages that sell me on the idea that I should eat, exercise and look a certain way

  • living my life the way I want to and embracing and affirming myself for who I am

I'm accountable for my own actions and for taking care of WHOLE self, not just my physical self.

What could be more responsible than taking a stand and saying, "I will no longer participate in a system that encourages me to be stuck in a war with my body every day"?

And another thing: you know what I find FASCINATING about these people? Most of them are either weight-loss pushers or long-time, hard-core consumers of diets, meal plans, and weight loss "programs", which are all things that put the responsibility on someone else to tell you how, what and when to eat. Ironic, isn't it?

They want us to be responsible, but the message they're selling is that we're not responsible enough to know how to feed ourselves. 

The bottom line: the personal responsibility argument is just another way to shut people down and uphold the status quo...and I'm not here for it.


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