Everyone I Know Is Taking Ozempic For Weight Loss. Here’s Why I Won’t.

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Many of us have taken our turn as the fat kid in school. I grew up with all the trappings of a lower-middle-class family – I was raised by my mother and grandmother (and a characteristically absent dad) along with my twin brother. We survived on Blockbuster movies, potatoes and onions, and leftovers from my mom’s hectic late-night catering shifts.

During our childhood, my brother and I took turns being the fat kid. In elementary and middle school, I went through a phase of being heavyset, while my brother was on medication for ADHD that kept him perpetually skinny. It didn’t help that my growth spurts arrived faster than most of our classmates’. Some years, I was constantly aware of my size; sometimes, the extra height was a blessing (I rode rollercoasters before anyone else). But when others pointed it out, it brought shame. At friends’ houses, I was cautious to never take a second serving or do anything that could invite teasing about my eating habits. In our teenage years, my brother and I switched roles. I developed an unhealthy obsession with losing weight, while my brother finally gained some.

It’s only been in the past few years that I’ve felt comfortable accepting my gradual weight gain instead of doing everything in my power to stay thin. There were factors that made it easier to put on the pounds. I take testosterone; I worked long shifts in food service that left me craving easy meals afterward; I stopped counting calories. I was fine with the fact that my pants size sometimes went up, and my shirt size occasionally did, too.

I felt little shame in my body – and then Ozempic changed everything.

[I]t’s not my problem that, because of the society we live in, others might be bothered by my weight.

Most people know by now, but Ozempic wasn’t originally intended to be a weight-loss drug. It was developed in the 2000s for its ability to stimulate insulin secretion, and was FDA-approved in 2017 for use in adults with type 2 diabetes. Now, it seems most people are using Ozempic primarily for weight loss (though it’s not possible to get an online prescription for Ozempic, or its alternatives, solely for weight loss). The drug took America by storm in 2023, even being attributed to a drop in holiday shopping due to decreased appetite. I’ll admit that I felt some temptation when I first heard of Ozempic and its popularity. Sure, I was happy being heavyset, but if it was easier to be skinny in our society, shouldn’t I just make the leap?

In December 2023, my mom let me know offhandedly on a call that she and my brother had started Ozempic. “We’re feeling great,” she said, and she sounded it. She felt no negative impact from Ozempic, she told me; instead, it felt as if she had been set free. After years of constantly battling her body to lose weight, she found a solution. But after a long conversation about how great the drug was and how much better she felt while taking it, a heavy, unspoken question hung in the air. If you’re so happy for me, why don’t you just take it, too? I had watched both of them fight for years to lose weight, and I’d suffered, too – and now that they had found a seemingly easy way out, I refused to take it.

Now that weight-loss drugs have become so much more popularized, having a heavyset body looks like you’re “stagnating.” After all, if there’s an “easy way out,” why defy our societal norm of “fat is wrong”? Because Ozempic has made being fat a choice, there is an expectation for fat people to simply choose to conform by becoming skinny.

Related: Is Intensive Counseling For 6-Year-Olds Really the Solution to “Childhood Obesity”?

But Ozempic isn’t a magical cure for obesity, despite how badly we might wish that it was. The societal causes of heavyset Americans aren’t going away – in fact, they’re more present than ever. Loose regulations on our food means that additives and sugar abound, even when nutritional content is low. Those in poverty living in a constant state of exhaustion from multiple jobs and a crippled economy continue to reach for the easiest option, which is often fast, calorie-heavy food. By putting the blame on individuals – who have done nothing other than exist in their bodies – we remove accountability for the structural inequalities that are keeping America heavyset.

Ozempic is surely around to stay. With its ease of accessibility and low risk of side effects, I expect to see many people in my life slim down. I know more and more people who are trying it solely for relief from obesity, from distant family to coworkers to friends. What I’m left wondering is whether these folks crave the weight loss itself, or simply the societal approval that comes with it.

But I won’t feel obligated to change myself unless it’s what I want. Fat people won’t cease to exist with the use of a new drug – it’s just another way to push aside body acceptance for another few years.

After going through everything in my power to lose weight, from fad diets to outright starvation, it turned out a miracle “cure” arrived at the wrong time in my personal journey. A few months later, as these drugs have only become more normalized, my decision has yet to change. Why? My weight is no longer subject to the micromanagement of every second of the day; I don’t calculate out my calories with every bite or rush to exercise off my last snack. My size brings me no anxiety. And it’s not my problem that, because of the society we live in, others might be bothered by my weight.

Unless I see a personal benefit to be gained from Ozempic, mentally or physically, I won’t empower others to mandate my weight. That’s not to say that being heavy is a good thing – it’s just a neutral thing. My takeaway is that instead of chasing what’s societally accepted, we learn to be more forgiving of the perceived imperfections we find in others.

Related: “Ozempic Butt” Is the Latest Side Effect of the Drug – Here’s What It Means

Patrick Kuklinski is a longtime writer living in New Hampshire. He holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental science and primarily writes pieces covering environmental problems (and solutions).

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