Hello friends. I am angry.
I was going about my evening as normal, and then I suddenly became SO angry.
Let me tell you for why.
I remember when I was two. I was two and I was two stone. I really wanted to be heavier, because that would mean I would be bigger and more grown-up.
That didn’t last long.
By the time I was eight, that had changed. When we went back to school after the Christmas holidays, my teacher told us to write down a resolution that we would seal in an envelope. At the end of the academic year we would open that envelope to see if we had achieved our resolution.
My resolution was to lose weight. At eight years old.
How had I got to that point?
I’m glad you asked. Most of it was society at large. Little comments about my weight and others’. Things that added up over days and weeks and months and years until it infiltrated my mind enough to be the one thing about myself that I wanted to change the most.
Not to be kinder, or cleverer, or work harder, or learn a skill. To be thinner.
Because that’s what’s important, right?
Looking back at photos of myself from that time and after, I wasn’t fat. Not even nearly fat. I wasn’t skinny, either. I was a normal, healthy weight for my age and height.
But I didn’t know that. I couldn’t see that I was fine. All I could think was that I should be smaller.
And those thoughts limited me so much. There are so many things I wanted to do but didn’t because I thought I was too fat. That I would look ridiculous. That people would laugh at me. And so I didn’t do physical activities which meant that, if I didn’t have a weight problem before, I was more likely to develop one now.
So, I decided I’d diet to lose weight. Now, forgetting that the best way to moderate your weight is a mix of healthy eating and exercise, and dieting can just lead to yo-yoing and a myriad of other problems… anyway. The hours of my time I have spent thinking about dieting and planning dieting and trying to force myself to eat certain things or not to eat certain things…
This is time, from my limited lifespan on Earth, that is completely wasted. Time that could have been spent improving myself, or enjoying myself, that I will never get back. But it’s forever lost on these ideas of thinness.
The irony is, what I wanted isn’t even achievable. The perfect picture of lithe, bronzed, toned “perfection” doesn’t and can’t exist. At least, not outside of photoshop and someone’s imagination. Chasing that idea of happiness will never lead to contentment because you can’t have something that doesn’t exist, and that includes the perfect body.
Even if you have a person in mind whom you believe has the “perfect body”, I guarantee that if you actually spoke to them, they would give you a list of all their “flaws”.
Any person, especially women, can readily reel off a list of their biggest “imperfections”. Very few of them will tell you what they love about themselves.
This is ridiculous and unnecessary.
Even if you feel like society’s ideas of “attractive” and “perfect” haven’t affected you in any way, they clearly affect most people. This can be seen by the number of magazine articles about weight, from the individual anecdotes, the conversations at home and in the pub and in work and in clubs and everywhere about diets and weight and “oh I couldn’t possibly!”
I for one have had enough of this.
So, the weight thing is a cultural and social construct. Therefore, as a society we can deconstruct it. it’s too late for me and a lot of people – I will probably always have that voice in my head telling me that I am too big (too big for what, exactly? Whose space am I taking up?)but we can save others.
I am not encouraging people to put their health at risk by being overweight or not exercising. But I am advocating the end of size-based comments, of weight-based commentary, of photoshop, of impossible measurements being held up as the ideal.
It’s not healthy and it’s not fair to young people. Imagine your daughter, son, sister, niece, so on, being brought up in a world where they are taught that body fat is the biggest indicator of attractiveness and worth. That their brains, sense of humour, kindness mean less than the body proportions that they receive in the genetic lottery.
Think of that, and demand more for them. Demand more for yourself. You are fine. You are a valid, valuable human being in your own right. Don’t let anyone, even yourself, make you feel otherwise.