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  • Writer's pictureTalia Cooper

Body Positivity in the Time of Ozempic

It's weird times right now.


While much of the world remains dedicated to thin-worship, the last several years have seen an influx of body positive influencers.*


If this was a movie there would be a montage of people embracing their curves and enjoying their food, of advertisements featuring mixed size models, teenagers singing along to body positive anthems, and people burning their scales (or…doing whatever environmentally friendly scale disposal looks like).


The cultural focus on body love was life changing for many individuals who finally decided they wanted to focus their brain on something more than food/weight/exercise. Many of those individuals (including some of you!!) set about changing the institutions they worked in to be more inclusive of all bodies. This is significant stuff.


It was exciting too– the promise of a more inclusive society on the horizon. The vision of young folks not hating themselves seemed just within reach.


But in some ways things felt worse. More and more clients came to me saying that they now felt extra bad about their bodies because they knew they SHOULD be body positive. They SHOULD love themselves. They SHOULD eat what they wanted and not worry. Yet they couldn’t help it– they still wanted to be thin (to which I always respond: “Of course! We still live in this culture. It hasn't changed that much.”)


Body positive pressures plus the same old fatphobia created the perfect storm for Ozempic to enter the scene.



Image: 4 frames of some guy named Gru who has a plan: 1) Feel bad about body 2) Use a drug to lose weight 3) Go off the drug (or not! Because some people are being told to stay on it forever) and then 4) Gain back the weight because this is common even for those who stay on it. Not pictured: how none of this cures body image feelings.



It seems that every decade we get a new weight loss/appetite suppressant drug which promises to be the real deal, and yet often ends the same way: people gain back the weight, some suffer long term consequences, there are court cases and scandals, and the drug companies make a bunch of money.


Let me be clear: ZERO JUDGMENT if you are using Ozempic or considering it. After all, you might need it for diabetes, but even if you don’t, I don't judge people for trying to figure out how to survive oppression just like I don’t judge myself for all the years that I prioritized thinness too.


Still, it’s probably good to know that for most people, Ozempic will be a short term bandaid solution when it comes to both weight loss and body image.


So where does this leave the body positive movement?


The same as it’s always been, with just a little less fanfare, and fewer “faces of the movement,” at least for now. I expect within a few years most people will realize that taking a drug didn’t cure all their feelings about food or their body.


At the end of the day, it always comes back to this: you’ve got one body for the rest of your life. How do you want to be in relationship with it?


As for me– I don’t want to suppress my appetite. My appetite for food keeps me alive. My appetite for love keeps me connected. My appetite for joy keeps me finding purpose. My appetite for fun keeps me laughing. I like being able to listen to my body. It was hard (re)learning how, but now that I’m here, I’ll never give it up.


It’s easier to swim upstream if you’ve got a cohort. I'm sorry if the current seems extra strong these days. You don’t have to go it alone.


Sending love and care,

Talia


P.S. A reminder that applications for the next I Have a Body! cohort are due April 24.


*It may have seemed like a sudden body positive influx, but this was actually the result of decades of mostly unrecognized labor from fat and disabled activists who repeatedly said that all bodies deserve love, respect and care.



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