It's a strange time to exist on planet earth. The entire globe is staying home, quarantined, glued to their devices and feeling a varying degree of boredom. We're stuck inside our homes, not able to keep to our regular routines and seeking comfort in the form of a favorite movie, a favorite snack, a home-cooked meal, or a creative project. Some folks are still working, providing us with critical things like health care or groceries, and some folks are grieving, but the majority of are are cooped up and feel out of control of everything in our lives that we used to feel a sense of control over like our commute, our office environment, our job security, our level of activity, and even what we put in our mouths.
At first I thought that the act of social distancing, with all of us staying home all the time, would mean we get a little break from fat-shaming. Quarantine: a vacation from body image issues! No one to call you names! We have bigger, more important issues on the table (like folks who are dying) and less social pressure from others to be so perfect as we sit at home in sweats with no makeup. Right?
But I was wrong. Quarantine has made many people feel out of control of their routine as they don't have access to their gym and are spending more time at home, bored and snacking. Suddenly my feed became filled with memes of "before and after quarantine" pictures, with the after always being a fat person. People who would have never fat-shamed me now were sharing images that made me feel terrible about myself. While I understand that many of us will gain a little weight in adjusting to this new lifestyle, myself included, it was painful to see the "after" representation looking just like me. I was sad to hear that people thought the worst thing that could happen to them during this pandemic wasn't that they or their loved ones would contract the virus, or even die from it, but that they could come out of quarantine looking more like me. And if I already looked like the "after," in their meme before we were quarantined, what does that mean for me? Will I look absolutely awful at the end of this?
I brought this up to our incredible Facebook community, and many others were sharing the same sentiment as me. But one member told me that she took matters into her own hands by commenting, "The after photo looks just like me. Thanks!" And while I don't have much advice to offer around weight gain in the times of COVID-19, I can tell you that her comment perfectly illustrates mean spirit behind these jokes and memes without sounding defensive or, getting accused of "taking the joke too seriously," which happened to another member of our community for standing up against a fat-shaming post on social media. We're all going through a lot now, a new routine, losing jobs and a sense of security, losing lives, but gaining a little weight isn't the worst thing to happen. I'm trying not to stress out over the way my body has and will change, but it's hard when the memes remind me I was screwed from the start.