If you’ve been following me or reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that when I talk about health, it tends to centre around mental health and wellbeing. I talk about physical movement occasionally, but usually as a tool to develop self-awareness and to feel good in your body.
I never talk about cardiovascular benefits or how to be physically fit and healthy. If I talk about food, I talk about the joy of eating what you want, intuitive eating and letting go of food guilt. I never talk about how many vegetables to eat in a day or offer up any ‘superfood’ smoothie recipes.
I do this for several reasons, including my history of having an eating disorder and knowing how profoundly damaging it can be to push these topics.
But mainly, it’s because I’m sick of people putting the topic of health and wellbeing on a pedestal.
Health is used as a scare tactic to encourage fatphobia. Health is used to guilt people into not feeling ‘enough’. Health is used to shame us.
We’re told being healthy is imperative, then sold a detox tea. We’re encouraged to love ourselves as we are, but with a caveat that joining a gym will help us love ourselves more.
What if we stopped using health as an excuse to judge people?
When Tess Holiday graced the cover of Cosmopolitan earlier this year, there was such a backlash, I was embarrassed to call myself British. And the argument almost every single hater had, was health. That we shouldn’t be glorifying obesity. That it isn’t healthy to be this size.
First of all – how the hell do you know how healthy or unhealthy Tess Holiday is? Are you her doctor? And secondly, why the hell does it matter if she’s healthy or not? Are unhealthy people not allowed to embrace who they are and love themselves?
Why does your perception of someone’s health status give you the right to hurl abuse at them? Would you shout at smokers on the street for promoting poor health?
*takes a deep breath*
It’s just a little exhausting seeing so many people on their high horse because they think being healthy is the most important thing in life. It’s also an incredibly ableist way of thinking – what about those living with disability and chronic health conditions?
I’m not saying taking care of yourself isn’t important, you guys know I’m all about self-care, I just think there are different ways of taking care of ourselves. We need to take a step back and realise there are other important things in life.
We’ve just stepped into December, a month filled to the brim with “unhealthy” things. Boxes of Quality Street, mince pies, festive coffee concoctions, staying in under a blanket for days on end, bread sauce (oh god I can’t wait for bread sauce), mulled wine, Christmas pudding, Yule logs…
And usually, the health police take a little break at this time. “It’s Chrismas!” they exclaim, offering up their permission to ‘let loose’ and do what we want (why thank you kind sirs!). But then, when January 1st rolls around, they turn.
Suddenly it’s all about cleanses and detoxes, repenting for your sins at Christmas. It’s about setting health goals, making resolutions to join a gym and cancelling carbs.
There is some rebellion, and I’ve curated my social feeds enough now to know I’m mostly surrounded by others who think the way I do and know there’s more to life that being ‘healthy’.
Sometimes though, I just want to take a megaphone and scream from the rooftops that being healthy doesn’t mean you’re better than everyone else. That to be healthy isn’t everyone’s goal in life – and that’s OK.
I’m not trying to shame those who are passionate about their physical health – if that makes you happy then kudos to you, keep going. All I ask is that you don’t judge others for their choices.
Don’t give us side-eye when we reach for our third handful of Quality Street. Don’t make comments when we continue to eat what we want into January. Don’t offer us unsolicited ‘advice’ when it comes to how much we exercise.
Let us forge our own path. Let us decide how much energy and attention we want to focus on health. Let us focus on our mental health if that’s what we need. Let us be slobs if we want to be.
OK. Rant over. This post has been brewing in me for a while, and now seemed the right time to get it out. The main take-away is to live and let live. Let people do what feels good and right for them. We’re all so different, and we all have different ways of approaching health.
Finally I just want to mention that my last newsletter of the year will be going out on 30th December, so right before New Year. So, if you want a newsletter that will absolutely not be about joining a gym and losing weight in the New Year, you know where to subscribe!
I’m not 100% sure what the theme will be for this newsletter, but it’ll likely include some reflection and intention setting… we’ll see. It’ll probably get deep, let’s be real.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on today’s post too, let me know what you think about the whole health topic in the comments.
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