I heard the term “Quarantine 15” for the first time this week. For those of you who have not heard the term, it relates weight gained during quarantine to the concept of the Freshman 15 (the supposed average 15 pounds gained by college Freshman during their first year away from home).
My feelings surrounding this topic are very complicated.
The fact that this concept is trending online is frustrating to me. Why do we insist on bringing concerns about weight gain into a difficult time like this?
And yet, I would be lying if I said that the possibility of gaining weight during quarantine hadn’t crossed my mind and that it hadn’t caused me concern. I wish the idea of gaining weight did not cause me anxiety, but it does. Due to experiences I had in my formative years, I struggle with body image issues and fear of gaining weight. I am not proud of it, and every day I am working toward body acceptance, no matter what size I may be now or could be in the future.
Please understand that I believe strongly that all people, regardless of the size of their bodies, are worthy of love, acceptance, and equal opportunities. Each person’s relationship and journey with their body is deeply personal, and it is no one else’s business. My issues with my body does not mean that I think negatively of people of are a different size.
After struggling with these feelings and the guilt of having them, I decided it may be helpful to do a little research to see if concerns about the Quarantine 15 are warranted. I found some useful insights.
There is debate about the average amount of weight people are gaining during quarantine. WebMD published results from a poll of their readers with 47% of women and 22% of men reporting weight gain. The majority reported a weight gain of 4-6lbs. However, The Washington Post published data from a study conducted by an Internet-connected scales company that reported an average user gain of 0.21lbs from March 22nd to April 18th.
I do not have the expertise to analyze the merits of these studies, but even assuming both are an accurate representation of weight gained during quarantine, I do not see a reason to worry. If weight gain is even occurring (which is debatable), the amount of weight gain is not cause for concern.
I found a piece written by Jessica Roy of the Los Angeles Times that put all these worries about weight gain into perspective: we have too many other things to worry about right now to stress about gaining a little weight. I also love the point she makes that if you are gaining some weight, it means you have enough to eat, which is difficult for some right now. We should be thankful for the food we have.
The memes and jokes about quarantine weight gain that are popping up on the internet are hurtful to some and continue to fan the flames of the negative stigma that fat* people face. A piece published by self.com describes the hurt felt by fat people when they see jokes posted by friends and family about gaining weight. How incredibly painful it must be to hear someone you love say that they don’t want to be like you, even if it is supposed to be a joke. *I am using the term “fat” since it is used in the piece and because I believe fat and thin are merely descriptions without positive or negative connotations.
After conducting my research this is what I have concluded:
- There are so many stresses in our lives right now. Why would we add to it by worrying about something like weight? It is so much more important for us to nourish and love our bodies.
- The U.S. (including me) has a long way to go when it comes to weight obsession.
- Even though I have developed healthy eating habits and made progress since my days of disordered eating, I am still dealing with anxiety around my body and weight.
- When we shame our own bodies, we can make others feel shame as well.
This topic is not easy for me to write about. I want so badly for everyone, including myself, to love their bodies just as they are and to feel worthy of love and acceptance.
My hope for you during this time is that you let go of any concern about weight and how your body looks and instead focus on learning more about yourself and how to better nourish your mind, body, and spirit. I hope I can allow myself to do the same.
Wishing you safety, strength, health and a life of joy and ease.
The Tenacious B does not claim to have any expertise on this topic. All writing is for personal reflection and entertainment purposes.