Rachel Lark and the Damaged Goods have a very funny song called “I Wanna Lose Five Pounds.” What’s funny about it is that it’s an almost perfect parody. In the short space of 3 minutes, she manages to capture the angst that many women go through once they recognize that body positivity is actually more liberating than the diet train, and yet they still “wanna lose five pounds.”
It’s like this: everyone else should love their bodies. We can see that this is a good way to go. But I wanna lose five pounds (Aside: I’m still a feminist).
She does a great job of hauling out all the rationalizations: I’m doing this for me! I’m motivated by self-love! I need healthy habits.
And saying many of the right things: I’m aware that our society tricks healthy women into dieting. But of course “that’s not what this thing’s about.” Nor is it about “looking good for a guy.” No, it’s that “my belly makes a roll when I sit down.”
She says, “I know I’ll never be as pretty as my friends; I know that the scrutiny never ends, but nothing tastes as good as being skinny feels, and I deserve to feel confident when I wear heels.”
This is just so close to what you actually hear in places like Weight Watchers (“I’m doing it for me; nothing tastes as good as skinny feels; it’s for health you guys!…”)
Rachel Lark is great at capturing the tension between our feminist ideals and wanting to lose weight (and needing to find just the right reasons). A couple of years ago Nat and I explored this tension. See her “Self-Identifying as a Bad Feminist” and my “Does Feeling Good about Weight Loss Make Me a Bad Feminist?”
I said something really similar to what we hear in “I wanna lose five pounds”:
In other words, losing weight has always made me feel kind of good, gaining has always made me feel kind of bad. And at a meta-level, my self-awareness about this fact about me makes me feel a little hypocritical, as if I’m a “bad feminist.” Natalie commented about this and we agreed that there is a lot to say about this issue still.
Intellectually I believe 100% that I am not my weight. I’m 110% behind the view that no one else’s worth or worthiness is determined by the number on the scale. And yet in my own case, at some level, I still think of weight loss as an achievement of sorts.
No one gets to call me a “bad feminist” but myself and let me explain why. I think that term is slung around when we mean other things like sloppy thinking or forgetting privilege or perpetuating harmful and hurtful ideas about body image and weight. I don’t think it’s intended to shame or silence but that is the impact. How dare I write about losing weight when there are so many bad arguments about weight loss! Bad Feminist! Uh, no thank you.
Rachel Lark and the Damaged Goods roll all of these thoughts into the one song and do so brilliantly. Enough about me explaining this to you. See for yourself. Enjoy!