When I was fourteen, I remember reading Mindy Kaling’s book, “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without
Me?” One thing I vividly remember is how nervous she was to go home for the holidays after gaining
weight during her first semester. As a self-proclaimed chubby brown girl, my own fears were echoed in
her musings. She goes on to say that she lost the weight after running regularly with her roommate,
much to her parents’ relief. Part of me was conflicted; I didn’t think I could lose weight. I understood
that I would have to face questions about my size as an adult, even as a middle schooler.
As much as Kaling’s story resonated with me, I knew I wasn’t a runner (where all my DDD cups at?). I
was never a track girl, and I hadn’t grown up playing a sport. I was used to eating Bengali food at
home, not salads. I didn’t fit the media’s idea of healthy, and I don’t look like fitness influencers online.
Equating health with thinness only brought me misery.
Luckily, I was placed into the care of a campus dietician. She changed the way I approach fitness and
nutrition—intuitive eating helped me understand how health can fit into my life without making me
feel terrible. Amid all of the New Year’s resolutions, I want to offer other women an alternative that
helps them stay healthy, but doesn’t involve self-hatred or unrealistic diet changes.
1. Change your approach. There’s a lot of pressure to create long-lasting changes to your
lifestyle on a whim. Online, we see celebrities, friends and family all sticking to diets and
publicly making plans to lose weight, posting about how they’re going vegan or cutting out all
sugar. This approach sets people up for failure, because we can’t change overnight. It’s not just
you, either—your body is designed to resist weight loss as a result of evolution. If anything,
restricting a whole food group is counterproductive and only results in yo-yo dieting.
2. Surround yourself with supportive individuals. Many women are made to feel like they
need to be thin. But for whom? A significant other? A future partner you haven’t met yet? Your
friends? Your family? The people who might want to have sex with you, but only if you’re
skinny? These are difficult questions, yes, but they’re the ones you need to ask. It’s important for
women at any age to surround themselves with people who uplift them, so make sure your
circle of friends and family respect you and your body. Body positivity and trying to be
thinner can’t really coexist. Ask yourself if you support body positivity—and then ask if that
3. Exercise is not punishment for having a body with fat on it. Repeat that as many times as
you need to. Exercise is a tool for yourself. You should be using it to relax, not to punish
yourself for looking a certain way. It’s there for you whenever you need it.
4. Change your feed. Ever heard the phrase “you are what you eat”? In this day and age, digital
consumption informs a lot of your opinions. Fill your feed with body-positive, weight-neutral
Instagrammers. Some of my favorites are @jameelajamilofficial, @iweigh, @dietitiananna,