This Bikini selfie has garnered plenty of attention.
Well, in Alison’s own words:
“Because never did I think I would ever take a pic of me in a bikini in Bali! I never wanted to come to Bali because at 122kg I never felt like I fitted in. I still can’t believe just how much life I missed out on. #TBLAU #TBLClub#itstime #taketherisk #timetochoose“
Losing 66 kilograms – and keeping the weight off – is a mammoth effort.
I can only imagine the satisfaction Alison derives from having done that. Reading that she now feels like she can live life to the full is heart-warming.
Acknowledging that it’s possible to lose that amount of weight, is no doubt inspiring to anyone else who is feeling like their weight is keeping them from taking part in life. And a glance through the Facebook comments underneath Alison’s picture confirms this.
To plenty of others who are seeking to lose weight, Alison is a bright light at the end of that tunnel. She’s proof that it’s possible.
And that is why this snap deserves a huge high-five. It’s a legendary effort.
But I have a question.
Where – if at all – do we draw the line between recognising a substantial weight loss as healthy and liberating and positive, and viewing a woman’s weight as definitive?
The implication in so much of the coverage of Alison’s selfie is that she is now worthwhile because she’s thinner.
Just check out some of the headlines that have dominated the media today:
Alison is clearly much happier for having shed half her body weight and on almost every indicator her health will have improved markedly. That is clear.
The reality is, as a human being, she is no more or less valuable because she has lost a stack of weight. As women, we are inundated with reminders that being thin is the pinnacle of our potential achievements. It isn’t. Our weight isn’t the start nor is it the end of who we are, and we undersell ourselves when we buy into that narrative.
There’s plenty to celebrate when a person finds their way to a happier place. In Alison’s case her weight loss has been transformative. But weight – gain or loss – isn’t the arbiter of a person’s worth. It’s ancillary.
The reality is Alison Braun is worth recognising regardless of the exact number that comes up on her scales. Having the strength to overcome the personal sadness which she has endured in her life is astounding. Having the determination to embrace an active lifestyle is inspiring. Her drive to stop ‘missing out’ and start living life is awesome. The kindness and generosity she shows her community is worth celebrating.
Compared to all that, her actual weight is inconsequential.