Ali, to your excellent point, Weight Watchers is no different from Celexa, which wants to get teenagers hooked on anti depressants. They are no different from Big Tobacco, which intends to get kids hooked early. It’s the same business model. Start ’em young and get ’em hooked. The fundamental notion is that we are not enough as we are, we ARE our bodies, our bodies define our value, and without perfection (offered to us through lifelong Weight Watchers, drugs, stuff that makes us look cool etc) we are nothing. No matter that virtually all the images we see are grotesquely airbrushed out of reality.

Many business succeed on the DirecTV model- they want us to subscribe for life. Once we are online, shall we say, we’re hooked up to the umbilical cord. We become dependent upon the weekly meetings, or that high we get when we puff a cigarette, or the placebo effect of an antidepressant that some idiot doctor told us we needed because we had a “chemical imbalance.” Fake news. We don’t have chemical imbalances (please read A Mind Of Your Own, Dr. Kelly Brogan). The mind is already ready for health. The body’s set point is wellness. When we suck on the opiate pipe of lies that society feeds us about our unworthiness, businesses make money, whether its the sixty BILLION dollar supplement/diet/weight loss industry or the make up industry or the fashion industry. It’s a human compulsion to want to be superior, better than, prettier than, stronger than. Advertising and products feed on those human frailties and sell untold trillions of dollars worth of products to those of us seeing perfection. As that great line in Aliens by Bob Paxton went, “It ain’t happenin’ man, IT AIN’T HAPPENIN.’”

No it isn’t. What does happen, if we are fortunate, is that we quite rightly call bullshit on messages and industries that feed us the lies that we are not enough. That without looking like those freak shows we use as models (who are mostly the picture of ill health, male and female, I’ve been there) we aren’t acceptable. It takes courage, the road rash of experience, the willingness to challenge Conventional Wisdom to rewrite our life stories. I beat a four- decade-long battle with eating disorders — it can be done- without any twelve step program or Weight Watchers or any other predatory program that only succeeds as long as I continue to FAIL. That’s their business model.

Kudos to you. And kudos to anyone else who draws a line in the concrete and says no to the lies. We have what we have: our unique body type, bone structure, size, set point, and genetics. You can change some things with surgery. But you can’t change your mind -and take total control over your life- until YOU decide to see, feel, and experience things differently. As long as multi-billion dollar industries exist to feed on our insecurities, we have to be our own first line of defense against what society defines as best for us. Bullshit. Nobody knows that but us. Nobody has the right to define this for us but us. If you’re a 5'1" round Hispanic woman, you are NEVER going to be Giselle. An Asian woman approached me in the gym recently and told me she “wanted guns like mine.” I told her that first of all her body may not respond to bodybuilding the way mine does. And second, she was looking at years and years of hard work. It doesn’t happen overnight. Why does she want my guns? I don’t know. It makes sense to ask ourselves, if I looked like (name your celebrity or idol), how is that going to change my life for the better? How much of ME do I have to give up to be loved by (my family, my boyfriend, et al)?

Freedom is the right to perceive life as we choose. To not be defined by others’ standards. To carve out our own unique and precious existence as we see fit that allows us to express our gifts and our manifest destiny without apology, as long as we don’t harm others in the process. This is what’s available. We can allow others to steal our lives from us by shaming us (WHAT you’re not perfect? SHAME on you! Which is how people sell products. Or we can revel in the fact that by God we DON’T look like everyone else. Thank god.

Horizon Huntress, prize-winning author, adventure traveler, boundary-pusher, wilder, veteran, aging vibrantly. I own my sh*t. Let’s play!

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