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While surfing around WordPress, I came across this post, “The Fantasy of Being Thin,” which was getting a lot of attention. In it, the author Kate Harding makes some very valid points about body acceptance, self-esteem, and how many women wrongly believe other problems in their life (relationship issues, career issues, depression, confidence issues) would disappear if they where thin.
However, she goes a step further and encourages women to accept that they are fat and also accept their personality (if you wish you were adventurous but are not, for example, you should accept who you are). This acceptance, she says, will be freeing and help you find what you really want in life.
That’s were I get off the wagon. Call me stubborn, but I don’t much like accepting things that I don’t like about myself. If I want to be healthier or more adventurous, those are things that I can actively work on and improve, every single day. Sure, if I’m trying to get thin to impress others or because I think it will get me promoted at work, that’s probably not going to go so well. But if it’s something I want – hell, why would accept anything else?
It’s funny I read this article today because yesterday (after going to the gym and while eating a delicious salad for dinner) I watched Oprah, which was about 21 people who had successfully turned around their lives and lost weight (from a few pounds to hundreds of pounds). There are lots of shows like this, I know, but this one was more affecting, I think, because everyone used natural means of weight loss and talked very honestly about their struggles with weight and body image.
More than one person admitted outright that they were overeating – big portion sizes, processed foods, binging late at night. All of them admitted to not exercising. If any of them had said that they were happy with their unhealthy weight, that they embraced it, they would have been lying to themselves. If any of these people had accepted their weight, I’m sure a couple of them would be dead by now.
Many of the people they interviewed had been utterly energized by their lifestyle changes – and yes, many things in their lives changed. It’s biology: if you’re healthy, you are going to be more confident, more active, and – they’ve done studies — more likely to get a promotion at work. Your libido goes up, your lifespan increases significantly. That all sounds worth it to me. More than that, these facts prove that being a healthy weight is important – not just a cultural thing we do because of advertising and the media.
The issues might be why and how a person loses weight. I saw a different Oprah (I know, I know) where women who lost weight through stomach operations were immediately finding new additions other than food (alcoholism, drug addiction, promiscuity) because they had yet to solve the problems in their lives which caused their overeating. Perhaps the women who feel the constant need to be thin need to work other parts of their lives while also striving to live healthily – it makes sense that an unhealthy lifestyle and other problems go hand in hand and affect each other.
And health is the bottom line, I think. If you are exercising regularly and eating right everyday and if you don’t have any thyroid issues, you will not be overweight. Sure, it might be harder for some people and easier for others, but that’s it: calories in and calories out. Unprocessed foods, small portions, cardio, weight training. If you tell me that you’ve tried eating right and exercising regularly and it didn’t work, you’re either lying to yourself or you were doing something wrong and should contact a nutritionist and a trainer.
If you don’t want to do those two things, for whatever reasons, I suppose you should accept your body. But don’t say that eating right and exercising don’t work. This isn’t about hating or discriminating against overweight people, but it is about being truthful to ourselves and why we are the way we are.
The most dangerous thing I can think of, perhaps, is the acceptance of aspects of our lives that we’d like to change. Not much has ever gotten done by women throughout history by passive acceptance. Don’t give up just because giving up is easy. Go out and try to be the person you want to be.
If necessity is the father of invention, Ripley must think that it is truly necessary to eat way, way too much cat food. As the weeks of her diet have gone by, her tactics have become increasingly complex and increasingly desperate. And, ironically, the agility and energy she has gained through her diet has only given her an advantage in her constant quest.
In the first weeks, Ripley played with our emotions to get food – those big, dumb golden eyes looking at me saying, if you loved me, if you weren’t a cruel monster, you would give me sustenance. She would then throw her body against my legs and meow as if she hadn’t eaten in weeks. She would go nuts if either of us even approached the kitchen and even extra crazy if in the kitchen we 1) ate something or 2) opened a bag or can. It was a simple scheme, but it worked from time to time.
After we started to see results and after my heart hardened against her pleas, Ripley had to move a step up from toying with our emotions. By which I mean, of course, repeatedly knocking over the trash can. Whether this was to find scraps or simply a gesture of warning to the humans — if you don’t feed me, I will destroy your lives - I’m not sure. But I am sure that raw chicken gets really, really gross after sitting at room temperature in the garbage after even an hour or two.
The next thing she tried was smarter. If Ben fed her, Ripley would scarf it down and then start harassing me as if she hadn’t eaten yet. If I fed her, she would know to go find Ben and play all hungry and innocent. It was truly an ancient war tactic: split the forces, confuse them, and conquer. We’re not sure how many double feedings she got from this method, but we caught on before too long.
Then a few nights ago I was making dinner in the kitchen. I opened a can of diced tomatoes and Ripley immediately ran into the room to inspect the situation. Ripley only gets canned food once or twice a week (variety is important in any diet, especially of the turkey-in-gravy kind) and she generally thinks that anything that comes in a can is a gift to be bestowed on her.
I said, “No, Ripley. This is not turkey in gravy. This is boring human food.” But she was convinced I was lying to her. And then she stood up on two feet and took two steps toward me in a desperate attempt to reach supposed canned kitty food. I’m guessing that by next month she’ll be perfecting a tiny kitty hover car or some contraption that will beam her to the nearest cat food location.