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Talk Back: Hey Oprah, I’m Not Gone Cry

JET wants you to Talk Back. This is one of the reader submissions that we received and opted to publish. Want to make your voice heard? Submit your commentary, TV show recap, poem, or essay HERE.  Read all the rules  so you know how it works.

It’s that time of the year where New Year’s resolutions are abundant, plentiful and blossoming like flowers in the spring across my computer screen as evidenced from my Facebook page. Folks across Facebookland are pledging allegiance to love more, start families, pursue careers, and then the heavy-weight that trumps them all and takes the crown of victor, is, drum-roll, please, weight loss goals!

Apparently, this is a nationwide epidemic! According to Marist Poll, weight loss goals were the top contender among voters, clocking in at 12%. Now, cue in Oprah and the waterworks of her heart-wrenching journey to lose weight in the past! With the help of Weight Watchers, she is ready to succeed and so are you! How seemingly fitting for the occasion! After watching the short ad, I was not an emotional wreck. I was in fact, unmoved. I was not touched by the angel that is Oprah in all her splendor. Nevertheless, Oprah inspired a spark in me. She inspired a series of flashing red alarms in my head and in my heart that made me take heed and respond to the “B.S.” sign my intuition was giving me.

Something in Oprah’s experience stuck out to me like a sore thumb, as I am sure it did for millions of other women around the world who have lost the battle against the “fat monster” that hides underneath the over-sized clothes we wear, or the one that tries to escape suffocation in the clothes we wear that are too small. By no means am I attacking or criticizing Oprah for her weight loss struggles. I am just Buzz Light Year over and beyond celebrities who endorse diet trend inspired weight loss as a tool to inspire people to make life-long healthy decisions.

As a Black woman who is in recovery from Binge Eating Disorder, I am all too familiar with the dieting cycle that Oprah references in her ad. Diets do not work. They are set up to produce failure in the long-term, hence the reason why Oprah and millions of other women are still slaying the same dragons of the past, or develop eating disorders. It saddens me that Oprah is masquerading her diet-inspired weight loss as evidence for “healthy success,” when it is just a marketing ploy to lure people into the rat race of the weigh loss Olympics.

Weight loss is only a topical cure that the media steadily administers to a nation plagued with obesity. Instead, people need to address their desire to lose weight. Is our infatuation with weight-loss really about health? Or is it for medical reasons? To get a man or woman? Or to be more socially acceptable?

As far as I’m concerned, being skinny does not equate to health. One can lose weight and still be unhealthy in more ways than one. In my eating disorder treatment, I was forced to deal with the skeletons in my closet that haunted me with dreams of losing weight and being skinny. My deep feelings of unworthiness led me to punish myself with binge eating, dieting and over-exercising.

Today, I no longer have a desire to simply lose weight. I have a desire to truly be healthy by honoring and respecting my mind, body and soul. I no longer diet. I practice balance and moderation. I ditched my scale. I don’t count calories. I exercise because I enjoy it, and it’s a stress reliever for me. If I lose weight, it’s a bonus, not my sole motivation. I am winning the war.

For more on Ahen Simmons, visit www.ahensimmons.wordpress.com.