Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Sod slim! Get fit! Who is responsible for our body image?

I was brought up in a very liberal household.  The live-and-let-live attitude I grew up with has developed itself in adulthood as a universal view of the world.  We are not separate nationalities but Earthlings, we are not separate genders or colours but humans.  What we look like on the outside is less important than what we are like on the inside. 

I would never judge someone on how they look. 

Neither would I expect to be judged on how I look. 

But I do and I am!

To my shame, I make assumptions about people based on their appearances all the time; sometimes these turn out to be bang on and then I get to be all self-righteous and other times I am totally wrong. 

The media portrayal of fat people is less than kind.  We are bombarded regularly with images of airbrushed women, their normal, natural curves, dimples and rolls airbrushed out.  We watch endless programmes on the telly about fat people getting thin and dressing up in clothes and hair and makeup their self-esteem denied them when fat.  We read endless stories in magazines and newspapers about celebrities’ battles with the bulge.  No wonder we look in the mirror and pinch bits and close our eyes in despair. 

When I see someone fat (let’s not go into all my other quick judgements of people) before my conscious, self-proclaimed liberal mind has a chance to step in and say the right thing, I have already made several ill-informed assumptions. 

I suspect I’m not the only person who does this.

I also suspect women may be worse than men in this respect. 

But hold on a minute.

I see no lack of married fat women. In fact, I regularly hear many men proclaim their dislike of skinny women and their eagerness for ‘something to hold onto’!  So who is perpetuating this myth that the only attractive fat women in the word are Beth Ditto, Adele and Dawn French?

Could it be women?

Could we be our own worst enemies?

I’m sorry to say it but sometimes women are just not very nice.  You know the look-you-up-and-down-eyebrows-raised look from another passing woman?  I’ve done it myself (without meaning to, of course; I’m liberal-minded.)  Women dress to impress other women – most men haven’t got a clue what you are wearing, generally if they can see boobs, legs or bum, regardless of size, they are happy – women judge each other much more harshly than men judge us.

Could women really be responsible for the poor body image of millions of other women around the globe? 

Arguably, one of the greatest achievements of 21st century living is having more free time (in the first world – obesity is most definitely NOT a third world problem although it is spreading to developing countries fast).  We embrace technological progress and anything that saves us time.  We can have it all.  21st century living tells us we are worth it; we can have what we want, when we want, 24/7/365 if we want.  We can communicate around the world in the blink of an eye.  We can travel around the world in less time than it takes to marinate and slow cook a pulled pork joint. 

And then ‘having it all’ somehow morphs into ‘eating it all’.

It’s virtually impossible, in 2013, not to put on weight.  Omnipresent advertising and effortless availability of cheap, calorie-dense, nutritionally vacant ‘foods’ makes it increasingly difficult not to put on weight.

Anything worth having has to be hard for others to get or it loses value.  And in this age of plenty (for the first world at any rate) being fat is in abundance.  Therefore, being slim, against the odds, is something to be strived for; it’s a status symbol. 

Being slim implies you can afford expensive, fresh ingredients; that you have the time and education to cook from scratch.  It implies you can afford a personal trainer or gym membership or fancy running shoes.  It hints at money like a tan used to.

But this isn’t the problem.  The problem is millions of women with low self-esteem because they aren’t thin.  The problem is millions of women struggling with what they eat through a lack of education, deep-rooted psychological issues, the way they were brought up and their financial position because they don’t like their bodies.  Not because they want to be healthy.

We need to change this!

We need to turn it from an aesthetic problem into a health crisis.  Millions of women are at a heightened risk of developing high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, diabetes, cancers, strokes and joint problems way before they reach old age but they are worried about what their bum looks like in that skirt!

Look, the yardstick I use to judge other people (rightly or wrongly) is determined by the things that I value.  Not by the things YOU value!  What I think of as important and therefore how I view others is meaningless to anyone but me. 

The ONLY reason you should consider losing weight is to be healthy to make YOUR life easier and better and more comfortable and more flourishing.  Not to please anyone else because what anyone else thinks about you is based solely on what they think of themselves!

Lets make a pact. 

Let’s stop beating each other up. 

Even in the 21st century I am having to teach my children about feminism because there is still a need for it.  There are still plenty of inequalities to fight against so why, when we still have men to contend with, would we turn on each other?

Here is a final snippet of info you might like.
You are far less likely to die early of obesity related disease if you are a fit fat person than if you are an unfit thin person.

So stop wanting to be thin and start wanting to be fit and healthy!

Cut flour and sugar.  Stop eating quick, easy, processed, convenience food, start planning your meals more carefully and go for a walk. 

Walk.  Just that.  For an hour a day. 

(If you can’t find an hour a day, might I suggest you free up some time by ditching the pointless, life-wasting task of ironing?)

So, women:  Sod slim!  Get fit!  Get confident!  Stand up for yourself!  Value yourself and your achievements and look after all the other women – they totally get you, if you’ll let them!

Live and let live, humans of Earth!

No comments:

Post a Comment