Are you happy?
If you’re a size zero or two, then you should be happy
If you’re losing weight, you should be happy.
If you go to the gym every day, you should be happy
I fit into all of these categories, but why am I unhappy?
The thing that makes me happy is being able to feel comfortable in my own body. Magazines, social media, and celebrities say I will feel confident when I am a size zero or two. I will feel confident if I am losing weight. I will feel happy when I conform to diet culture. It worked at first, but then I went into a cycle of constantly worrying about food and my weight. I was losing weight, but I was never happy because I wasn’t eating. And I didn’t stop. I felt pressured by diet culture to look like models on the covers of magazines. I felt pressured by the calorie amounts in restaurants. I felt pressured by nutrition labels with their serving sizes and sugar amounts. I felt pressured by the FDA, with their suggested daily calorie intake, sodium intake, and sugar intake. I was even pressured by my mother who grew up in the diet culture mentality, to remain at a low weight and never gain. Dance teachers tell me if I want to be a dancer, I better have a dancer’s body or else I will never succeed. Directors and my own mother tell me if I want to be an actress I better expect to lose weight to be cast in a film. And if you do gain, you instantly feel bad to be alive in your own skin. Society has projected an image of success and happiness for me. But if I conform to it, I will never be happy.
Distraction has worked the best for me to ignore the pressure around me. It has helped me become healthy again at a stable weight. Distractions from reality like books, movies, friends, and family have helped me eat normally again. But happiness is still very hard to achieve. I constantly hear “I’m so fat” or “I really need to go on a diet” or “I feel so bad I haven’t been to the gym this whole week.” All of these people are at a normal weight and have no reason to be worried. We have been taught to beat ourselves up. Our parents, teachers, social media, and public figures have taught us to act a certain way for other people. They do not allow us to be who we want to be. They do not allow us to achieve happiness in our own way. We must all follow society’s rules in order to seem happy on the outside but unhappy on the inside. The only light I can see at the end of the tunnel is by doing everything in my life for myself. Doing things that are only for me sounds selfish, but that only sounds negative because society has made it negative.
You have to care about yourself because you can’t trust anyone else to. It’s not for no reason that people practice meditation, or call in “sick” on Fridays, or even pursue what they love despite what their friends or family think. Sometimes I just need to be alone for a couple of hours, but sometimes I need to do the complete opposite and surround myself with others. People have told me I should get out and experience life, but that is not the best way for me. Society has rules we agree to follow, but many of them end up being more harmful than helpful. You have to put yourself first; you’re the only one who will. In the end, when you live the way that is best for you, you’ll know the answer to my question.