Saturday, March 29, 2014
Health at every size
In our society, we are so bombarded with ideas and images of thin and toned people that we are lead to want to look like them. This, as you all know, generally creates some sort of self-shame with most people (including myself) trying again and again to get thinner or to get toner. We start diets thinking this will be a new start for a new "me". We put all our hopes in it, and we feel so ready to jump in this new stage of our life, that we tend to jump a little too fast and too deep in it. From the first day we deprive ourselves to the point of starvation so that our diet will work even faster than it is supposed to, and we will exercise to the point of exhaustion to be sure to have all that fat removed and replaced by beautiful toned muscles. The thing is, this generally works for a few days, maybe a few months, and sometimes a few years. But the real point of all this starvation and exhaustion program was to make us feel better, right? If we were supposed to become a new "me" than why does this new version of us seems more like an even more tortured vision than the previous one?
Oh we might not see it that way at first, we still can't believe this time it really worked. But then, the great program turns into some kind of obsession, checking on our weight every 5 seconds, eating something, anything, and feeling bad for doing so, and in short, we become imprisoned in this state of constant fear to fall back to what we were, to what we deeply know we are. And the truth is that in these moments, which almost always come at some point of a diet, we feel awful, we feel ashamed, we don't feel like going out because we fear that people might see that we've gained back that shameful kilo. Why we do feel that way about ourselves is unbelievably interesting, and I'll surely post an article about that too, but today I'll try to stay focused on the dieting part's supposedly positive aspects, i.e. that it is a way to live a healthier life and which is opposed to the idea that being fat obviously goes hand in hand with being in poor health.
I recently saw a TedxTalks video where Golda Poretsky was giving a speech about being fat and how she came to peace with it. It was truly inspiring and relieving to hear her. She started narrating her life of being called fat, going through a life of dieting that didn't work on the long term, and feeling ashamed of herself because of the image she knew that people had of her, no matter what other great achievements she had made in all the areas of her life. She couldn't appreciate how successful and brilliant she was because of her being over what we call an average weight. And then she went on by explaining how she studied many charts and studies about obesity, which revealed that obesity isn't the real source of health problems, but that eating unhealthy is. She then states that obese people and not obese people have the same life expectancy. She even shows that, in some cases, being obese even makes you more resistant to certain sicknesses! And then, she concludes by saying that no matter what our size is, the most important thing is to keep a healthy lifestyle which consists of four criteria with which we should constantly live: not drink too much alcohol, not smoke, eat vegetables and fruits every day, and exercise a few times a week. Doesn't sound that difficult huh? It surely feels refreshing to hear that it doesn't really matter for our health whether we have some extra kilos or not. But then, is this whole advocating of being thin and toned to feel good a masquerade? Is it all about marketing? It surely does seem that way, since most of this advocating involves us depriving and shaming ourselves to the point where we need help, be it pills, dietitians, diets, books, videos, etc. This does seem like quite a lot of advertisement after all... And then again if we feel good and our health is at its best, why would we want to look like somebody else? Doesn't "me" look fine just as it is? Maybe we should just try letting go of the judgment for once and be happy with who we are, no matter our size, as long as we're happy and healthy.
Here's the video I've been talking about:
Have a great day and keep your mind sharp!
P.S: I have found an article about a girl called Whitney Thore, who autoproclames herself fat, and who shows us how she learned to embrace her body. She does look very happy! She's even launched a campaign, nobodyshame.com! I'll probably be writing about that in a little while!