#GainingWeightIsCool is the latest hashtag to surface on Instagram and encourage women to post transformation pictures of themselves.

This time, the movement encourages women to show the weight they have gained rather than lost. Sounds like a step forward for body positivity, raising self-esteem and celebrating diversity on social media, doesn’t it? Well actually, no.

The movement was started by body positive social media influencer and fitness coach Arianna Dantone, who posted two photos side-by-side on New Year’s Day with the caption ‘Gaining weight is cool’. It has since been ‘liked’ 1.9k times on Twitter, whilst over on Instagram the picture has amassed a huge 3,700 ‘likes’. The Instagram photo Arianna shared, by the way, also included a call to action for people to join her coaching programme; to learn how to make ‘maximum gains’ (read: improve their body shape).

Arianna encouraged other women to do the same, sharing their weight-gain journeys on social media. It has had a massive response and sparked a trend of women posting two photos side-by-side – a sort of reverse transformation – of their weight gain. The hashtag has been used 12,881 times, and counting, in three weeks.

Whilst it may seem like a celebration of self-acceptance and body confidence no matter what your dress size, I’m not convinced.

When I first saw the movement, I thought it was great: a way for women to show that a healthy body is not synonymous with a super slender, flat-stomached physique. It’s also a great message for those suffering with eating disorders, that gaining weight can be a good thing. However, on delving a little deeper you find that the ‘transformation’ is still to a beautifully proportioned female figure. Only it’s now stronger, leaner and with more of a booty: a not so subtle echo of the universal standards of beauty by which women are encouraged to have curves if they are in the right places. And let’s not forget, the posts are still based on appearance; the movement still draws a link between self-worth and how you look; it still encourages women to define themselves by a number – the number on the scales.

It is yet another well-intended social movement that has been hijacked by fitness model-look-alikes to show their gains.

Remember #StrongNotSkinny? Same thing. Intended as a way to empower women to work out in order to be strong and fit rather than to look a certain way… yet it eventually became another expectation of how women ‘should’ look. Another way of comparing yourself to a previous version of yourself – or to someone else’s progress entirely. If you’re not super lean, strong (and let’s face it, most of the women on that hashtag are super slim too) then you don’t qualify.

Sifting through the #GainingWeightIsCool hashtag, for every one person who puts a genuine story where they have actually gained some fat, there are ten lean, tanned and muscular women, sharing their bare bodies and hoping to ‘inspire’. Hoping to inspire what, exactly? You have amazing muscles and a fabulous six pack – we get it, you’re gorgeous! These fitness aficionadas may have gained weight, yes, but it is in the form of lean, sculpted muscle. Whilst that is totally incredible for them, it doesn’t do much to promote acceptance of and appreciation for all body sizes.
News flash: the size of your derriere does not determine how cool you are. Nor how interesting, brilliant, compassionate, beautiful or unique an individual you are. Your personality does that! What’s more, your genetics play a huge part in your physical makeup, so trying to grow a huge booty if you’re not genetically made up that way is probably not going to happen.

The movement has just become another way for people to compare; another form of emotional terrorism on women who are not a super fit size 8 with major booty gains.

Despite all this, I’m not saying the hashtag is completely bad. It’s great that the movement has inspired women to embrace and celebrate their bodies, and it’s definitely a good thing if it helps give anyone – with or without an eating disorder – the courage they need to accept themselves and value their self-worth. But it doesn’t do much to deviate from a society where, as women, our value is constantly placed almost entirely upon our appearance. We are more than our figures, we are more than our gains, and our self-esteem is not determined by how we look on an Instagram post.

We are more than our figures, we are more than our gains, and our self-esteem is not determined by how we look on an Instagram post.

Whether you’re losing weight, building muscle or just maintaining a balanced lifestyle, the most important thing is to treat your body with the respect and love it deserves by prioritising your health. Make food choices that benefit your wellbeing; choices that give you energy, fight disease and ultimately enable you to live a long and happy life.

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