I read an article this afternoon entitled Overweight Women: To be Celebrated? Or Shamed? It got me thinking about my own thoughts on the matter.
When creating this blog, I filled my blogroll with a lot of useful links to weight loss websites. I also created a category I called “Inspiration.” You can see them in the right hand sidebar if you look. Many of the blogs in this category are of other surgery survivors, as well as women who have lost weight through more traditional means. I find them inspiring to me, and I hope you do, too.
That said, I also have links in the same category of women who are overweight and happy about it! They are healthy and vivacious and in control of their lives, and I’ve no doubt they would still be so if they were bigger or smaller. They are women who accept themselves unconditionally and are to be lauded.
Still, my thoughts on fat acceptance are many and varied. On the one hand, I applaud anyone who can be a positive role model for the overweight. Especially when they can show that they are not simply lazy gluttons, but women with full lives which include healthy eating choices and moderate exercise. I do not base whom I find attractive (male OR female) on the size or shape of a person. I do judge based on whether the person takes care of him/her self. Do they make an effort with clothing/makeup/hair, etc?
I have several girlfriends who have never had a problem with their weight. Some of them are model thin, and others are curvy in the exact right places. But being thin is no guarantee of being attractive.
I even know a set of identical twins who couldn’t be more different in how they are viewed by the opposite sex. Bianca* uses a straightening iron on her hair each day. She gets up early to put on her makeup, and she dresses with style in the most recent fashions. In contrast, her twin Bella* will only put in extra effort if she is forced to do so for work. She generally rises an hour later than Bianca, and she wears makeup only on special occasions. She leaves her hair with its minor wave in it, and usually she wears it in a ponytail. Both of these women are gorgeous. Despite the levels of effort they put in, there is no denying that they are twins. Anyone could see it. Yet Bianca is the one who always gets asked to dance in clubs. She gets free drinks wherever she goes, and she could have a different date every night of the week. There’s even a difference in how men describe them. Bella is often referred to as “beautiful” while Bianca has been described most often as “hot.”
In the same vein, I have two friends who are sisters (though not twins) who are both overweight. The younger of the two wears makeup daily, gets her hair cut at a salon every 6 weeks, and buys clothes to update her wardrobe as often as she can reasonably afford it. The older sister makes no effort whatsoever. Her hair is extremely long but is in terrible shape with split ends and dandruff. She wears no makeup, and she can usually be found wandering around in cheap sweat pants and a stained t-shirt. She is in her early 30s, but she looks older, and she hasn’t had a date in years, despite the fact that she was once married to an attractive man. Standing side by side the two sisters have an incredible likeness. Their facial structure is similar, and their body shape is nearly identical. But the younger one is full of life, and she has a new boyfriend every couple of months.
Basing attractiveness and/or health on how someone looks doesn’t always work. Two women of the exact same build could be seen by the same man, and he may have a very different response to each. My own husband has shown me that men can be completely contradictory in this regard.
A few days ago, we were driving down the road when we saw a larger woman in baggy sweats, hair in ponytail, walking down the street with no makeup and a cigarette in hand. My husband made a disgusted noise and pointed her out as “an uggo.” Of course I gave him a smack and told him how rude that was, and he apologised for voicing his thoughts out loud. He realised I might find that offensive. A day or two later, he saw a picture of a very nude Beth Ditto in a magazine, and he commented on how one of the pictures was actually quite appealing. Never mind that Beth Ditto is a LOT heavier than the woman we’d seen earlier in the week. Never mind that her rolls were on display for everyone to see without even a baggy sweatsuit to cover her “offensive” body. For some reason my husband saw a difference in the two women. I have no doubt it had to do with the difference in the effort put in by the two women.
In this day and age, we are all warned of the associated health risks of being overweight. Diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, hypertension, etc are all problems associated with the obese.
But how about this? My BMI right now is FOUR pounds away from being a “normal” weight. I am overweight by FOUR pounds. And I’m on my way DOWN. Some women who are overweight by four pounds are on their way UP the BMI chart, where health problems may become a worry. But here’s the kicker – yesterday morning I weighed in at 170 lbs. By 8 PM, I weighed in at 176. That’s 6 pounds in the space of ONE day.
Last week I was on my period, and my weight was almost 10 lbs heavier than normal. Weight fluctuates. It happens to EVERYONE based on what we eat and drink or even what time of the month it is. So even if I hit a normal weight, losing four pounds, the likelihood is that later the same day I’d be back to being overweight!
The answer according to doctors is to get my weight down enough so that when it fluctuates by four or five pounds, I’ll STILL be a normal weight. And of course at the end of the day, that IS my aim. I don’t yet look the way I want to. I’m not the size I want to be. I still have around 30 lbs to go. Because my ideal weight for MYSELF is not just “normal.” It is small enough so that if/when I faint, my husband can catch me without hurting his back. It’s being able to fit into a smaller sized dress so that I don’t stand out in my crowd of friends as “the big one.”
Right now I’m the healthiest I’ve been in my whole adult life. Sure I could make better decisions. The tiny slice of apple pie with a side of cheddar that I had at 9:30 last night was not smart. But I’m healthy enough that I can have the occasional off day. It won’t kill me. But if I decide to have a slice of pie and cheddar EVERY night at 9:30, I start down a road that I will find hard to recover from.
I guess my point is that right now I am comfortable with my weight. I want to be smaller, but I’m 88 lbs down from my heaviest, and I’ve already done better than I thought I would. Life is not to be lived by only doing the bare minimum we need for survival. Sure I could live on a tiny portion of fish and brown rice day in and day out, but my life wouldn’t really be nearly as much fun.