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.