Why I Don't "Heart" The Instagram Hashtag #GainingWeightIsCool

When it seems like nearly every part of society - from the lithe models on billboards to sexy actresses on TV -  says that thin, perfect bodies should be women's top priorities, you might instantly fall in love with an Instagram movement like #GainingWeightIsCool. As someone who lost almost 20 pounds to celiac disease, I know I was a fan when I first heard the words.

As empowering as this hashtag may sound, though, I have a newsflash for you (and the readers of Entity Magazine, where this article first appeared): #GainingWeightIsCool is actually just another body shaming movement in disguise.

Why I Don't "Heart" The Instagram Hashtag #GainingWeightIsCool

True, this movement may have purer roots than most. At the beginning of 2017, fitness coach Arianna Dantone posted a photo showing how she'd gained weight while pursuing fitness goals. She tagged it with #gainingweightiscool, asked women to share their own positive stories of weight gain. Since then, over 17,500 posts have been posted featuring the hashtag. I almost felt called to post my own story with the hashtag, just like I've written about it on here a few times before.

And, sure, some of these photos are even inspiring. You can read testimonies of women who've finally beaten their eating disorder. You can see women embracing muscles, kicking ass in "masculine" hobbies like weight lifting or Crossfit, and learning to love themselves - even without a thigh gap. Hell, at first glance, I agreed with sites like People and Greatist that #GainingWeightIsCool was, well, just that: pretty freakin' cool.

Why I Don't "Heart" The Instagram Hashtag #GainingWeightIsCool
The post that started it all...
But the more I scrolled, the more I realized that this hashtag isn't as empowering as I'd like to think. Not only that, but it could be dangerous.

By scrolling through a handful of posts, you'll see weight that's being gained and celebrated isn't the kind you might first picture: the chubby tummies or touching thighs. Instead, it seems like gaining weight is only appropriate when you gain a six-pack alongside it. Instead of empowering women to reject society's unrealistically thin beauty expectations, these posts are just giving women yet another unrealistic goal: toned arms, chiseled abs and a booty that rivals Kim Kardashian's.

Ironically, a lot of the dangers of these photos are similar to that of "thinspiration" or the photos women often look at to motivate themselves to lose weight.  Both physiques can be reached through dangerous methods - like over-exercising or restricting your diet (whether in calories or by following a strict protein-heavy diet to help build muscles). Perhaps the worst part, though, is that #GainingWeightIsCool still equates a woman's appearance to her overall value.

Just like a thigh gap doesn't determine your happiness, impressively sculpted glutes don't prove how "cool" you really are!

Why I Don't "Heart" The Instagram Hashtag #GainingWeightIsCool
I've been a range of sizes and fitness levels...and none come with a happiness guarantee
For some women, maybe the #GainingWeightIsCool photos are just the motivation they've been looking for to get active, embrace a bigger jean size or even beat an eating disorder. And if that's the case for you, please, scroll and hashtag as much as you want! I may even peek at the new posts from time to time, looking for women with "average" bodies (in terms of not being a baby female Hulk) but extraordinary stories or pieces of advice. However, I can't say that this movement is good for all women - or even most women.

In fact, I only have one kind of "weight" that I'm focusing on: the wait for a time when women's bodies are just that - bodies. They won't define us. They won't be victims of body shaming or unrealistic beauty expectations. They'll just be the vessels that help us express everything - the thoughts, ideas, beliefs and emotions - that truly do make us cool.

*Although I wrote this article, it first appeared at Entity Magazine, where I work as Senior Editor. Check out my other articles here!*

*Also found at Pretty PintasticDare to Share, Share Fest!*


What do you think of this hashtag? Tell me your thoughts!

Comments

  1. Casey, this is an amazing and incredibly well written article!! I agree COMPLETELY with everything you said, and i too found this hashtag to be incredibly triggering for my eating disorder. I feel like it is promoting an unhealthy image for females and it basically feels like its saying that if you gain weight, it has to still make you look sculpted and fit. I have been avoiding Instagram for this reason. I think people need to take a step back and realize how negatively this hashtag can affect them!

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    1. Hi Allie. Thanks so much for your kind words and support. Glad you could relate to my thoughts :)

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