diets · fitness

Open letter to friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, etc. of people who gained weight during the pandemic

CW: discussion of weight, weight gain, and fat shaming

Dear folks,

No doubt it has come to your attention that some of your peeps are heavier than they were in March 2020. This likely comes as no surprise to you. We’ve all been barraged with news stories, tweets and memes about pandemic weight gain. Tracy, ever the acute prognosticator, blogged early and accurately about the issue here.

Even when we manage to avoid the mocking-toned, lowest-common-denominator posts, the battery of medical news gets to us. Their brand of fat-shaming and weight-blaming, veiled though it may be in professional concern trolling, targets people by making it the fault and responsibility of individuals to do many things now to reverse this calamitous-to-medicine course of increased poundage acquisition. On this medical site they use the word “YOU” quite clearly (and repeatedly):

  • YOU are snacking while working;
  • YOU aren’t moving enough;
  • YOU are miscalculating calories;
  • YOU aren’t sleeping enough.

Hey, medical website—few of us are moving enough, most of us have to snack while working (as we work all the time while taking care of family, home, and self), and no one except dieticians in nursing homes successfully calculates calories. As for sleep? Don’t even go there.

After one year of pandemic scrambling, hunkering down, worrying, grieving, working and not sleeping, some of us have gained weight, some have lost weight, and some are about the same weight. That’s life. I happen to be one of those in the gained-weight group. That’s my life right now.

Now, here’s my message: if you’re worried about the weight gain (or loss) of your peeps and are wondering if you should say something, DON’T. JUST DON’T. Really—do not do this.

Why not? To make it brief, here’s a list:

  • Changes in weight are not new information for anyone who’s experiencing it; we all know our bodies better than anyone else does.
  • It’s almost certainly going to make us feel bad— pointing out some change in that clearly you think is negative is going to be just that: negative.
  • It won’t help at all; we won’t a) feel better; or b) be more likely to enact what you think is a positive body change; or c) be more successful in bringing about what you (and some of us, but not others) think is a positive body change just because of something you said.

If you’re concerned about our health (mental, physical, emotional, etc.), that’s really nice. I mean it. You can help by being supportive and caring and involved in ways that promote your relationships and shared goals. Be a good friend. Be a good neighbor. Be a good boss. Be a good sister. None of these roles involve talking about people’s weight or changes thereto.

Friends, we who have gained (or lost) weight during the last year love you. We are in charge of our bodies and the care and maintenance thereof. Not to put too fine a point on it, but:

Woman wearing a T shirt that says IDGAF about your diet, Susan.
IDGAF about your diet, Susan.

Feel free to forward this along to your friends, family, neighbors, coworkers, and whoever else you think will benefit…

With deepest respect and oodles of affection,


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