This movie was written by Joan Rivers when she was an up and coming comedian known for her biting humor, before she became a joke herself. It starred Stockard Channing, before she became a well-known and well-respected actress. It's called “The Girl Most Likely To...” and has far more comments on IMDB than I would have expected for a movie that aired in 1973.
Perhaps I remembered this movie well because in 1973 I was 9 years old and just at the beginning of my life of torment as the “fat kid”. In fact, I started gaining weight in 4th grade of elementary school at that age. The idea of becoming a future beauty and heaping some pain back on the people who made me miserable everyday must have seemed irresistibly appealing at that time.
At 45, my reasons for losing weight have nothing to do with revenge. In fact, as of late I've been pondering expectations of life post-fatness as well as some of the reasons others have stated they are losing weight. Frankly, sometimes I'm really shocked at the type of things fat women say when they speak on this topic. I don't think that they are going to serve themselves well in the long run in many cases.
I am reluctant to frame any person's reason for losing weight as “good” or “bad”, or any euphemism thereof. Back when I worked in a mental health-related non-profit agency, it was drilled into our heads that such words suggested that people were “right” or “wrong” or that there was some moral judgment at play. We were instructed to talk about “appropriate” and “inappropriate” behavior rather than using other words. I don't think the mentally ill people we dealt with on a daily basis missed the fact that we were simply avoiding using other words. When a client would talk about a case worker's personal life, appearance, etc., we would say they were being “inappropriate”, but I'm sure they heard “bad”.
Frankly, I have little interest in judging people. That being said, I can't help but believe that there are reasons to lose weight which are conducive to long-term success and mental health and those which are conducive to disappointment, bitterness, and weight regaining. In this post, I'm going to consider those reasons. I would like to assert most strongly that these are NOT euphemisms for “bad” or “good”. That being said, any action which is based on vindictiveness, spite, or gratification of the id is likely to be pretty bad. No one needs me to tell them that, unless they are amoral children or psychopaths.
As I've been monitoring reasons that other people have offered, I have broken them down into the following categories based on my feelings and considerations:
Reasons that are conducive to possible future success and contentment:
- fitness (average)
- pain reduction
- fitness (above average)
- relief from depression
- clothing preferences (either sizes or designs)
- cessation of discriminatory behavior against overweight people
- revenge against those who rejected you based on weight
- desire to incur envy in others
- acceptance by those who reject you based on weight
- compliments or positive attention for your accomplishment
- happiness (generalized)
- better romantic or relationship potential
- fitness (greatly above average, unrealistic for your body's capability)
- competitiveness with others (in regards to weight loss or appearance)
Any reason to lose weight based on external validation or that involves other people is going to greatly increase your chances of failing in the long run in my opinion. One of the reasons for this is that you cannot rely on the reactions of others to meet your expectations. Even if you initially receive praise and are validated during the weight loss process, you will have an increased chance of gaining back the weight you lost in the future once the compliments end and you reach your target. In other words, once life returns to "normal" and you no longer get those pats on the back, your reasons for losing the weight in the first place vanish.
By nature, most people, especially those who have little respect or regard for you, aren't paying enough attention to your internal struggles or the external manifestation of you conquering those struggles to even care about your weight loss. Contrary to popular belief, the weight loss of one fat person is not of paramount interest to every person around you, even when your fatness seemed to preoccupy them. Most people don't care, and only notice in the most cursory fashion. They don't envy you, though they may be threatened by the fact that you have succeeded when they have some sort of egoistic interest in your remaining fat. Even in such a case, their responses are about them, not you. People are far too self-centered to concern themselves deeply or at length with your weight loss or appearance. Therefore, any sort of desire for envy, revenge, etc. is going to provide extremely short-lived satisfaction at the very most, and nothing at all in the least.
To me, beauty is a dual-edge sword as a weight loss motivation. Many people expect beauty to be the ultimate reward for weight loss, but as I have said before, thin doesn't mean beautiful. Most people are average-looking and some are actually ugly, fat or thin. You aren't going to be Angelina Jolie once you shed layers of fat. In fact, you're likely to find that you look "different" but not necessarily "good", especially with the sagging skin, possible wrinkles that were smoothed out by body fat (something I'm experiencing), stretch marks, and other battle scars of obesity. There may be a minority of people who lose weight and actually have the skin elasticity, youth, or genetic potential to become great beauties, but such cases are rare.
Most people are unremarkable. And I don't buy into the idea that "fat = ugly" or that "thin = pretty" anyway, nor do most people (including men). Beauty is largely governed by factors related to symmetry, body ratios, and the size of body parts unconnected to weight (eyes, nose, mouth, height). You can be fat and gorgeous, though the body part ratios (like hip to waist) are often thrown off by excess weight. That being said, most people do look a bit better at lower weights because of improved body ratios and more appealing bone structure being revealed (particularly cleaner jawlines and better cheekbone definition, which are part of the symmetrical aspects which we favor genetically). In particular, most people look better in their clothing at lower weights. Whether or not beauty helps or hampers long-term weight loss depends on how realistic one's expectations are and how invested in beauty one is.
In regards to motivations that promote potential long-term loss, I think health is often the most potent one simply because fear of mortality, disability, or pain are enduring. You may get old and care less about beauty. You may grow mature enough not to be spiteful and vindictive. You may stop preoccupying yourself with something as arbitrary as numbers on clothing tags or styles. You will always have to concern yourself with health, pain, and mobility and the loss of them is potent.
While there is a certain logic behind everything I have said, I actually believe that no motivation is very solid or predictable. I lived for years with enduring physical pain and a lack of mobility. It was only the prospect of having to enter a new and unpredictable environment that pushed me to act. I was comfortable as long as I could operate within my limits in my current situation. Essentially, my feet being put to the fire was my main motivation to start to lose. It is merely my hope that the appreciation I have at present for my state of increased mobility and reduced pain will help me maintain after I lose everything. I just know though, that none of the other fantasy outcomes like those that were in the old movie I mentioned at the beginning of this post will serve any lasting good.