For those who are unfamiliar with the concept, ‘revenge’ weightloss is when a man or a woman loses a lot of weight following a break-up for the sole purpose of making their ex-partner feel bad about what they have lost. It’s something that has come up in the news recently, but it has also been a concept that I’ve been painfully aware of for a long time, and there are just so many things wrong with it.
So, what is the big deal? The initial issue is the implication. When we praise a person for reducing their body mass, we immediately induce a sort of problematic opposite-value system; the lower your weight, the higher your value. This is something which occurs within society already, and to place that in the context of a relationship can be incredibly damaging to a person’s self-esteem.
The thought process which leads to ‘revenge’ weightloss following a break-up is that your fat self was not worthy of love, so you need to become thin. This is a serious self-esteem issue which is only reinforced by praise – and by justifying that mindset, we trigger a domino effect. Every “good on her!” comment on a photo tells somebody else who is reading them that they, too, are unworthy as long as they are fat. And so the cycle continues.
In addition to this is the notion that the ex-partner is still in control. Somebody changing their entire body for another person is damaging to self-worth; we need to encourage healthy mindsets. Teach people that they are perfect exactly as they are. Support people through difficult break-ups, and make them believe that they are worthy and valid without radical change.
There is nothing wrong with changing yourself in any way that you want to, as long as you are doing it for the right reasons and in the right ways. What we, as a collective, need to make a conscious effort to do is stop praising the wrong things for the wrong reasons. How can we blame other people for fat-shaming us when we are doing it to ourselves? We need to be persistent and educate others if we are ever going to change the world we’re living in. Will you join me, and give up supporting ‘revenge’ weightloss?