As Rebel Wilson has been sharing her current fitness and nutrition journey during her “Year of Health,” she says it’s helped her better understand her body and her relationship to food.
“You never want it to be about the number, because it really isn’t about that,” Wilson said in an interview with People. “It’s about: I was doing some unhealthy things to my body and I just wanted to change it and become a healthier person.”
She goes on to touch on specifically how she felt her eating habits were connected to her sense of self and how her negative relationship with food affected her relationship to her body: “I think I was emotional eating, and overeating at times, because I wasn’t loving myself enough. And it does come down to that self-worth and self-love,” Wilson adds. “I would say to everyone out there don’t be obsessed about how much you actually weigh. It’s more about all the healthy practices, and then the changes to your whole lifestyle.”
Now, I’ll be real: As a Health Editor in the women’s health space, celebrity weight and body and food stories are always complicated — you want to be careful to not perpetuate fatphobic or body negative attitudes while also acknowledging that some people connect with these stories.
When you’re vehemently opposed to the scourge of diet culture, the endless cycling of stories breathlessly cheering on celebrities (who lack a lot of the complicated socioeconomic issues linked to food and health) for shrinking and losing weight like it is an immediate moral good are kind of maddening. Seeing coverage of Wilson’s body (like Adele’s and Lizzo‘s before it) can feel really complicated.
On one hand, seeing any person take ownership of their body and lifestyle and think critically about how they were taught to think about food and nutrition is exciting and empowering. But it’s still wrapped up in the same system that rewards weight loss and punishes people (and especially femme people) who do not have need or interest in chasing down that goal.
But on the other hand, the overwhelming attention to this part of Wilson’s story still feels so specifically about attaching a moral, psychological “wrong” to a person who live(s) or previously lived in a fat body. Instead of just letting it be one person making changes to their lifestyle that feel right to them at the time, the narratives are often taken as “all fat people should want this” or “maybe all fat people have this same relationship to food and nutrition.” Which is reductive as it is damaging.
It feels weird and icky to to give too much attention to these narratives because even when you say that it’s not about the scale or the weight loss, our culture takes it that way and over-represents this narrative where it’s still the same old diet culture story (celebrating a woman for getting smaller) but wrapped in new, slightly more acceptable language.
It’s frustrating because, without the baggage of body negativity (especially from women’s media) and an appropriation of body positivity from thin people, these celebrity body stories probably wouldn’t have such a sting and probably wouldn’t be such an issue. But until we can truly let all bodies be bodies, we’re not there yet.
Before you go, here’s our favorite inspiring quotes for developing healthy attitudes about food and bodies: