It’s finally 2023 and we’re barely 4 days into it but the world feels full of weight loss commercials, endless articles on the “best” workouts, new year new me rhetoric, countless ads for products to transform you into your “best self”, and people crowing about their resolutions at top volume- as if we don’t go through this stale rigamarole every January.
I’m all for making changes in your life. Transformation is important, change is important, growth is important. However a lot of the seasonal marketing around these concepts is rooted in verrrry toxic ideas. It can be really difficult to resist the incessant pressure to participate in this stuff, but here are my tips to help you avoid getting sucked into the quicksand thinking of New Year New Me.
-New Year New Me is a marketing strategy. That’s it. On par with “I’m Lovin It” or whatever
crap Dove is doing with their ads this week. You can choose to ignore it just the same way you ignore any tacky ad slogan. With most things it’s important to pause and ask yourself who is making money off of this, and whether you want to pay them (spoiler- you probably don’t).
–YOU ARE ENOUGH. You are just fine, as you are right now- right this very second. Not 20 pounds less, not with highlights, not with a bullet journal filled with plans written in scented ink, not with a new wardrobe, etc etc. You don’t owe anyone transformation, least of all companies or social media assholes. You can completely opt out of New Years resolutions and still be deserving and wonderful! You can stay in bed the entire day and still be deserving and wonderful! Your value is not measured by your productivity or perceived “health” (that’s eugenics…)*.
-Change is never sustainable if it’s All or Nothing. Anyone who’s tried to overhaul their entire life after a break up knows that sort of motivation will dissipate very rapidly. If there are things you want to improve on or change in your life taking the tiniest steps towards those things consistently will keep you doing them far longer than February 1st. You also can’t “willpower” your way out of systemic oppression (or we’d all be size 2 Jeffy Bezos-es).
-Here are some better New Years Resolutions: Swear more (fuck!), learn Olde English curse words (saddle-goose!), try desserts from countries you can’t locate on a world map without help, befriend your local crows, or host a regular make-art meet up. Honestly my favorite is usually to “Find More Beauty”, to make a note file in my phone of all the magical strange things I have seen all year to look back on (even if sometimes the note is a mysterious “garbage pile that looks like a chicken”).
-You can choose to redirect your life any day of the year. Nature is dormant in winter, the woods are silent- if you feel more like sitting quietly and just existing right now- that is fully okay and natural. You bloom when YOU bloom, not when some company thinks they can get some money out of you by stirring up negative emotions.
-As for practical actions you can take to reduce the howling of “NEW YEAR NEW ME”: Install an ad blocker on your browser, silence the ads- miss the spew. Unfollow anyone who’s sudden resolutions or weight loss talk etc makes you feel badly about yourself- just no. Unsubscribe from all those shop newsletters that prompt you to redo your whole wardrobe.
The weight loss industry is worth billions of dollars- their profit is literally made by you not succeeding (temporary weight loss is a thing, but statistically almost no one “succeeds” past 5 years). The industry’s main goal is to make you feel your body is “wrong” so you’ll buy apps, books, machinery, outfits, etc etc etc. Whatever ounce of money they can bleed from you to feed this cruel machine they will, all while making you feel like you suck for not succeeding. The weight loss industry cannot be divorced from racism and classism. No matter which company claims it’s “not a diet” this week the end result is still suffering and cruelty. Imagine how many improvements we could make to our lives and our communities if we used the money and energy spent on weight loss bullshit for that instead!
*Productivity culture is eugenics. I’m sorry, it just is. How can you remove valuing people based on their “productivity” to capitalism without devaluing those who by circumstance of birth aren’t as productive? Not possible. Gross.
The urge to remake your entire existence blooms on Jan. 1st and before the NYE hangover has dissipated you’ve already spent two hundred dollars on items like an offering to your perfect future self. The problem is perfection doesn’t exist and even if you hit that target goal you’ll still be the same messy, complicated person you were before. Give yourself a break, you’re already doing great. This post isn’t about never changing or never improving, it’s about removing yourself from a for-profit transformation narrative we’ve been fed annually since the invention of advertising. It’s about being conscious of the things that influence us and actively choosing what to participate in. Be kind to yourself and others in 2023.
Happy New Year!