Have you ever thought to yourself, “If I just lose 10lbs my life will be better.” Or “If I lost weight, I could finally get a boyfriend/girlfriend.” Or “I can get that promotion if I just lose the weight!” If you have, you have most likely been a victim to a Weight Loss Fantasy. Weight Loss Fantasy is the idea that weight loss, in and of itself, will in fact solve any problem that you need it to. Need a better job? Lose 10 lbs! Need a guy to start paying attention to you? Lose 20lbs! Need better self-esteem? Lose a bunch of weight! Need a better life? Go on a diet and drop a dress size!
In our world today, diets and weight loss are treated as if they were the solution to each and every problem we face on a daily basis. But we have news for you: WEIGHT LOSS WILL NOT SOLVE ALL OF YOUR PROBLEMS!” And that’s because at the end of the day, although the weight may be gone, the person inside still exists (more on this shortly).
A key component of the Weight Loss Fantasy is the idea that weight loss is a solution for better self-esteem. Magazine ads, commercials and popular television shows like the Biggest Loser teach us that when a person loses weight, she/he will automatically feel better about herself/himself. The assumption here is that thinner people feel better about themselves because they look better. And the underlining message is that a huge part of self-esteem comes from appearance. But the idea that weight loss is a solution for better self-esteem is a fallacy, and here’s why…
I have spoken with countless women in my life about issues of body image and self-esteem; fat and thin women, ordinary women and former models, rich women and poor women. And I have yet to find one woman who gets true self-esteem from the way she looks (thin women included). This is mostly because I have yet to meet a woman who is completely satisfied with her body. But it’s partly because our looks are a fickle thing and are not meant to give us the self-esteem we are looking for. So, if thin, beautiful (as defined by our culture) women are even unhappy with the way they look, then how can we say self-esteem comes from a thinner body or appearance in general? By saying weight loss will boost self-esteem we are saying that appearance is a key component to self-esteem. Does anyone else see something wrong with that?
So if you are a victim of Weight Loss Fantasy and you are under the impression that weight loss will help fix your problems and make your life better, I have some bad news for you, it won’t. Sure it might give you a temporary feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment. Sure you might like who you see in the mirror a little better than you did before. But ultimately, your weight loss won’t make you feel better about who you are. And that’s because real self-esteem comes from a place within us, and has little to do with our appearance. It comes from our ability to accomplish things that matter in this world, it comes from our religious/spiritual faith, it comes from our ability to love others and be loved. It should never come from our reflections in the mirror.
So let’s stop living in Weight Loss Fantasy Land and start dealing with the person inside. Then and only then, will we all find true and lasting self-esteem.