Quarantine has certainly disrupted our routines, leading many people to worry about putting on extra pounds during the pandemic. This is understandable -- expected even. However, the rhetoric that has surfaced on social media as a result of weight gain anxiety is not only insensitive, it's downright hurtful. You can't scroll through Instagram without coming across a quarantine weight gain meme, with users joking about the "quarantine 15," "fattening the curve," or being cast on My 600-lb Life when all this is over.
For those who don't fit society's definition of thin or are struggling with body image issues or are recovering from an eating disorder, this is no joking matter. It's body shaming. Sick of seeing all the quarantine weight gain memes and general fat panic on social media, photographer and body positive advocate Anastasia Garcia decided to stand up to the shaming. In April, she posted a selfie on Instagram, wearing only her underwear, and shared her thoughts in a powerful statement.
"This is #myquarantinebody It’s definitely not as strong as it was a month ago — when I was in the gym every week — AND THAT'S OK! This body is my home. It’s keeping me safe and healthy during times of crisis. And now more than ever I am so thankful that I am healthy... when so many are losing their lives," Garcia wrote.
She continued, emphasizing how fat-phobia will not fix the current situation: "I’ve been really disappointed seeing blatant body shaming and weight gain stigma around being quarantined. It feels tone deaf, short sighted and incredibly privileged. We are all quite literally in survival mode. So it’s ok if you’re not feeling your fittest, or if you’re eating differently (as many of us are due to grocery store availability). Life right now is not business as usual and no amount of body stigma and fat shame is going to change that."
Garcia finished the post by encouraging her followers to share similar selfies, using the hashtag #MyQuarantineBody, along with their thoughts and empowering words. "We may not be able to change our current environment but we can empower each other toward self love in these difficult times," she wrote.
Since her original post, women from all walks of life have joined Garcia's movement, sharing their own #MyQuarantineBody selfies and unapologetic stories of self-love. Their messages are honest, empathetic, and encouraging. A refreshing break from the negative content filling up our feeds and a necessary reminder that our changing bodies should be loved -- not mocked.
"This is an event that none of us could have ever prepped for and our minds are still trying to wrap our head around this," model and activist Hunter McGrady wrote on Instagram. "I ask that you be kind to your body, nurture your body, love on your body fiercely, respect it, and even better, be PROUD of it. It’s getting you through this time!"
The positive response to her original post thrilled Garcia and proved to be powerful personal experience, too. “To see the range of women of different shapes, sizes, ages, ethnicities ― I have felt pretty alone during quarantine in my Brooklyn apartment ― but seeing all these women come together for the sake of the greater good, who have also had these thoughts, was the most beautiful, humbling and inspiring thing,” she told HuffPost. "Watching these women post images and make decisions about how they feel in their bodies at this moment ― that was the power, and it’s my goal to continue to do that.”
Garcia hopes to remind people how lucky they are if a bit of weight gain is their only concern during a deadly pandemic. But that's not to say you can't process, or even worry about, changes in your body right now. You just shouldn't lose respect for others in doing so. At the end of the day, making cruel jokes or sharing quarantine weight gain memes that essentially mock people will not make you feel better about your own body. Kindness, appreciation, forgiveness -- now these are things that will. Check out more of the inspiring #MyQuarantineBody posts below.
See more #MyQuarantineBody posts on Instagram.
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