Opinion | Coming to Terms With Weight Issues

To the Editor:

Re “Resist the ‘Wellness’ Shakedown,” by Jennifer Weiner (Opinion guest essay, May 7):

You are not alone, Jennifer. I get ads all the time for programs that want me to achieve my authentic self by losing weight and attaining that sought-after acceptance by the dominant culture. Through buying their programs, products, books and vitamins, I will re-enter the anxious world like the beautiful (thin) butterfly I was meant to be.

At this point I want to curse, but I will leave it at that.

I lost 25 pounds during lockdown. I dropped my gym membership, threw away my diet books, charts, exercise logs, mindful eating apps and my yearly subscriptions to a variety of diet programs, and just lived.

I walked my elderly dog very slowly around my neighborhood. I didn’t go to restaurants or bars because they were closed. I was hoping that we would come out of the pandemic, and all we have been through, a kinder country with a tolerance for our diversity of bodies and viewpoints. I wanted us to express a sort of love for one another for just making it through.

When Krispy Kreme doughnuts were offered as an enticement for a Covid shot, the criticism from the medical authorities did not surprise me. It reminded me again how much the world hates us for what our bodies signify. They may disguise that hate behind medical advice in a paternalistic kind of way, but that hate for us comes through.

Jean Renfro Anspaugh
Fairfax, Va.
The writer is the author of “Fat Like Us.”

To the Editor:

Jennifer Weiner warns that after the pandemic, the weight-loss industry will be back in force to “fix” our supposed pandemic-remodeled bodies. One group I’m particularly concerned about being targeted: our children.

Shockingly, there is no age restriction on the sale of weight-loss dietary supplements. Eating disorders among teenagers have seen a dramatic rise during the pandemic, and any young person struggling with body image can be targeted with social media ads for weight-loss dietary supplements.

Ms. Weiner rightly enjoins us all to resist the industry’s deceptive claims and ineffective remedies. Weight-loss supplements have been repeatedly found to be laced with banned pharmaceuticals, excessive stimulants and other toxic ingredients and are the leading cause of supplement-linked emergency room visits nationally.

Thankfully, lawmakers in New York, California and Massachusetts have introduced bills that would prohibit the sale of deceptive and toxic weight-loss dietary supplements to children. We can resist, as Ms. Weiner encourages us to do, by supporting legislation that would put meaningful restraints on an industry that has been profiting from fat shaming children for far too long.

S. Bryn Austin
The writer is a professor of social and behavioral sciences at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and director of the Strategic Training Initiative for the Prevention of Eating Disorders, a research and training program based at Harvard.

To the Editor:

Rather than pay money to a weight loss scheme, walk a mile a day with your celery stick.

April Stone
Boulder, Colo.

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