Folks who have been paying attention know small groups of folks often make huge decisions that impact the health and well-being of most of the people living in the USA. The key decisions spread through the media and a nationwide network of “health care professionals” (most likely your family doctor and a whole cadre of folks in supportive roles) who provide life-altering advice based on information provided to them by trusted sources.
Among these trusted sources is the BMI (Body Mass Index), for example. Did you know most of the members of the small group who came up with the rules and categories (“overweight” and “obese,” for example) work for weight-loss organizations? As such, they have a lot to gain (oh-so-many more people at the doors seeking help), as happened a few years ago, when they changed the details to move a large number of people from average/healthy ranges to overweight – with bumps up the spectrum.
The folks within the multi-billion dollar (estimates range from $60B to over $100B a year) Diet Industry that feeds a Diet Culture that works so diligently to convince us that only the most slender are “healthy” while the majority of the bodies occupying space in the USA (the 67% who are fat) are costing taxpayers outrageous amounts of money and dropping dead in ways that inconvenience others only because the fatties refuse to do what everyone is told is easy: fat people need to eat less, exercise more, lose pounds, and suck it up to magically keep the pounds off forever. In short, the Diet Culture’s main role seems to be to keep the majority of us feeling inadequate, ashamed, distracted and ignoring that in all of nature there exist ranges of sizes, shapes, markings, and hues/colors.
Enter now the heroic characters in the form of twin sisters Emily and Amelia Nagoski: professional women who refer to this diet culture as the “Bikini Industrial Complex (BIC)” in their new book, “Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle.” They point out we have options, including ignoring the marketing that tells us we all have a willowy fashion-model version of ourselves inside us waiting to be set free. Scientists have even found some genetic markers that explain size diversity, at least in part, and have me wondering why we aren’t kinder to one another and to ourselves. Is it, in the words of an old country song, “…everybody’s gotta have somebody to look down on/Who they can feel better than at any time they please…”[i] or is it something else, like our own insecurities making us a little (or a lot) hard on ourselves and others?
In their book they describe one extraordinary (to me!) way they practice self-compassion. I can see how this practice could balance those moments when we look in the mirror and don’t appreciate the reflection or someone provides feedback that does not lift us. Rather than self-deprecation, they suggest what I consider starting a revolution by letting go of the Inner Critic while grabbing the Inner-Fairy-Godmother.
It’s called the “New Hotness” game and the book states the intention is to “let go of body self-criticism and shift to self-kindness.”
It started with Amelia during a shopping adventure when she found a great dress that looked great on her. She texted Emily a selfie “with a caption paraphrasing Will Smith in Men in Black II: i am the new hotness.”
The term “new hotness” became their texting cue for looking fabulous without basing that on cultural beauty ideals. They found ways to share moments of New Hotness. How fun is that?! “Maybe you don’t look like you used to, or like you used to imagine you should, but how you look today is the new hotness. Even better than the old hotness.”
It truly is a revolutionary act in this age to name your own hotness terms.
What I really appreciate about this approach is that it’s not about loving your body (though it’s definitely fabulous if you do). It’s about facing the image in the mirror with compassion and accepting all the related baffling thoughts (the “yes I have good hair…but my ankles look swollen”), emotions (particularly the crushing shame we’re told to hold for our imperfect-and-awesome bodies at all ages, sizes, shapes, and shades), and desires (including those wants that we know may never manifest).
Read the book or at least a good book review![ii]
Here are some of my ideas:
Round belly replacing the 6-pack abs of yesteryear? New hotness!
Hair stylist ran amok and left you more surprised than pleased? Heads up: New Hotness!
Varicose veins from those years of stand-up jobs? New Hotness!
Gained back the weight you lost while trying the latest food plan/diet? Rock those curves: New Hotness!
Noticing doctors and police officers look like youngsters? Celebrate your experience, New Hotness!
Total stranger comments on the size of your ____ (butt, thighs, etc.)? Thanks for noticing New Hotness!
And two from the book because they’re simply well-said:
“Mastectomy following breast cancer? New hotness.”
“Amputation following combat injury? New hotness.”
“The point is, you define and redefine your body’s worth, on your own terms.”
And isn’t that the way it should
be for all of us, every day?
[i] I remember this from “Jesus Was a Capricorn” by Kris Kristofferson
[ii]Visit one of my favorite websites (ted.com) and search for “new hotness” or click this link: https://ideas.ted.com/if-youre-unhappy-with-your-body-just-repeat-after-us-you-are-the-new-hotness/