A patient of mine came in this past week and shared a horrible childhood body image memory. While rummaging through her mom’s attic she found a program from when she was 7 and attended her “coronation ceremony” from Taking Off Pounds Sensibly (TOPS). It was 1973, and TOPS was considered a compassionate way to help children and adults lose weight. But that’s not what this program, wrapped in green construction paper, offered.
GREEN IS … the color your face turns when you see someone slim.
GREEN IS … money saved by eating less food.
GREEN IS … a weight loss (ink color reflecting pounds lost on their chart).
GREEN IS … looking down and seeing grass under your feet, and not the mound of fat in between.
This is compassion! OMG! WTF!
As with all attempts at weight loss, it was not sustainable, especially for a young girl. She went through countless weight loss programs throughout her childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. And the results were not just predictable physically; they were predictable emotionally.
The American Psychological Association reports that women and girls who objectify their bodies this way are likely to suffer:
- eating disorders
- lower ambition
- lower cognitive function
- lower grade point averages
- lower confidence
When women, girls, men, and boys, learn to see themselves and others for all their gifts, talents, and attributes, and not just physical items on display, then perhaps we can say with our voices and bank accounts that we will not support TOPS, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, MyWeightLossDoctor, or any other organization that demonizes and objectifies our bodies.
By Andrew Walen, LCSW-C - Founder, Executive Director, Psychotherapist at The Body Image Therapy Center. If you would like to get in touch with Andrew please call 443-602-6515 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.