Friday, March 5, 2010

The Ac-CENT on the Wrong Syl-LABLE?

Sadly, if we are to be really honest with ourselves, most women want to lose weight for esthetic reasons. It's been thousands of years since a truly fat woman was considered beautiful. The picture above is of the "Venus of Willendorf", a statue that was carved between 22,000-20,000 B.C. It represents what was the ideal female figure: voluptuous and fertile.

Speed ahead several tens of thousands of years, and here's what today's magazines tell us we should look like:
I don't find either image particularly attractive. What I do find worrisome is how the Venuses amongst us are now automatically seen as unhealthy while other women are seen as healthy, simply because they are slim (if not anorexic). This attitude opens the door to eating disorders, self-flagellation (I only lost a pound this week--I'm a failure), yo-yo dieting and ultimately severe damage to one's metabolism and health in general.

Let's be honest: what would you prefer? Being skinny and unhealthy or being 10 pounds overweight (and who decides that, anyway?) and in great shape? How much would you give up to "look good", wear a size 4, or proudly wear a bikini?

Why are you going to the gym? Honestly? What if you were guaranteed to never get rid of your batwings, or flabby stomach? Would you still go to the gym? What if you never lost that last ten pounds? Would you still go to the gym, would you still try to eat healthy foods?

Diane at Fit to the Finish recently asked if you can be obese and healthy. I think the answer is obvious: if you're eating junk food in front of the TV and can't be bothered or aren't even able to walk down to the mailbox, you're unhealthy. But what if you exercise moderately, but regularly and eat healthy, unprocessed foods? You could still be "overweight" (again I ask, by whose standards?), though I somehow doubt you'd be obese. By many other measures, you could be quite healthy (BP, cholesterol, etc.).

And that's where the ac-CENT on the wrong syl-LABLE comes in. It's time to take the accent off weight and pounds (kilos) lost and put it where it belongs: on eating healthy foods, on enjoying (and not fearing) a wide variety of foods and on exercising to the best of our ability on a regular, sustainable, life-long basis rather than going the "biggest loser" route (which can never last a lifetime unless you're Gillian Michaels, who's making a fortune off browbeating people into obedience).

But that's so boring.


  1. Nicely put! The Biggest Loser can give so many people false hope and healthy is what I want to accomplish!

  2. I am healthy and 100 plus pounds over weight. Even at 380 I had low BP, good blood sugar etc... I work out A LOT I eat healthy foods, although sometimes a little too much. I stay away from prefabricated foods, processed sugars and white flours, rice etc.... Eventually I hope being mindful in my lifestyle that only changed when I included working out 9 or more hours a week a few years ago will lead me to be smaller and therefore more esthetically pleasing... but it's feeling healthy I am after. And so far feeling healthier and healthier is what makes me willing to be mindful about my choices and active daily.

  3. Oh what a fantastic post ! the 2 images also were so thought provoking.

  4. You have great, thought-provoking posts....
    Very deep, actually.
    Love reading them.

  5. I know I have transitioned after 23+ yrs of on-again, off-again running from doing it "because I HAVE to", to doing it because I WANT to...
    Aerobic exercise is now my anti-depressant of choice, so yes, this aging has-been jock would continue hitting the gym whether or not I lose another ounce. Still struggling w/food issues & nutritious eating habits though!
    Another great post!

  6. It's been thousands of years since a truly fat woman was considered beautiful.

    Actually, it hasn't been so very long that fat women have been viewed as the beauty ideal. In the late 1800s, tearful girls would write into magazines asking for weight GAIN advice. Slender women were openly mocked and jeered for their skinny bodies, while actress Lillian Russell, who weighed in at over 200 pounds, was considered a “voluptuous beauty.” (And btw, while Kate Moss is scarily thin, I think that second photo has been proven to have been photoshopped.)

    I'm fat and a heck of a lot healthier than I was when I weighed 125 pounds and was struggling with anorexia and bulimia. I have hypothyroidism, which means that I have lab tests done once or twice a year and my last results showed that I am super-duper healthy in all regards save for a vitamin D deficiency, which I am now treating with supplements. At my lowest weight, not only was I depressed and suicidal from malnutrition and the eating disorder, I also had high cholesterol (which can be a symptom of hypothyroidism) and I developed a lifelong heart condition again from the malnutrition and taking high doses of ephedra. Sure, I'd like to weigh 125 pounds again, but I'd much rather be fat and healthy than thin and unhealthy.