Stop Panicking About Gaining Weight During the Pandemic

Since lockdown started, fatphobic posts and memes have been sneaking their way into my feeds, and I’m tired of it

(Kristen Frier)

Wearing the same hoodie and sweats for days at a time may not be as socially acceptable now as it was at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Life is slowly beginning to move forward again. Places that require you to wear pants are reopening. We’re starting to hang out in small, carefully selected groups. Some of us are returning to work.

And with all of this, we are going back to standing idly in front of our closets, debating what to wear. However, after months of isolating ourselves at home without access to the stair climber at our chosen gym or our favourite lane to swim in at the pool, our clothes might fit a little differently.

How does it make you feel, standing in front of a mirror and seeing that your body has changed during a stressful, scary time?

During quarantine with my girlfriend, I’ve been mostly shielded from people panicking about their new quarantine bodies, but floods of memes where fatness is the punchline still fill my social media feeds.

I witness the people in my life interacting with these posts. Tagging their friends, venting in the comments, “Omg this is so me.” How they interact with these posts is very telling of how they view fat people and how they view the word “fat” itself.

It’s difficult to stop hating yourself when you’ve been taught to your whole life. After graduating from high school, I had a lot of unlearning to do myself, and I’m still working on it.

I think it’s time that everybody started working on it, so here are four steps to fight fatphobia both in and outside of yourself:

Step 1: First, ask yourself, “Why am I scared of gaining weight?” Likely, it’s because of what we’ve all been societally taught that fat people are undesirable.

But is this true? Of course not. And if you’re feeling like it is true, it may be time to think about how you value yourself and others. Start following and listening to more diverse voices, to more diverse experiences.

Step 2: Remember that food is delicious and part of the human experience. It isn’t something to feel guilty about. Try to instead view food as fuel for your body, not as something you should be punished for enjoying.

Don’t skip out on learning how to bake sourdough bread during quarantine because you’re worried about the carbs.

Step 3: Be wary of the food police.

You sit down at the table with a helping of food on your plate, and the person across from you comments, “Wow, you must be starving.”

If you find yourself saying things like this, stop it. If people around you are doing this, tell them how it makes you feel, and if they can’t respect it, maybe it’s time to move on. Food policing is never acceptable, but it’s even less appropriate during a pandemic. The bigger picture here is even more obvious than normal — gaining weight shouldn’t be your top concern.

Step 4: Be kind to your body and have patience with yourself. A lot is happening right now, and we are all going through it in one way or another. Take care of yourself. If you are exercising, view it as a way to get stronger, not to become skinnier and more desirable.