Thursday, October 4, 2012

Sick of the chatter

There has been a lot of chatter about weight these days. My Facebook newsfeed is filled with posts and links to articles about body image, weight and the related bullying. There is the blog post about the mom who chose to "stay in the picture" with her kids, even though she did not feel good about her appearance, the news anchor who told off a viewer after he wrote her about her obesity, the speculation about Lady Gaga's 25 pound weight gain, and on and on and on.

Weight. Haven't we all heard enough? In parts of the world we have starving populations, there are natural disasters and people dying in bloody wars and we are still talking about weight. What a privileged culture we are.

I am hardly above this. I have had my own fascination and struggles with weight and appearance and it bothers me. I wish I could put it all aside and think about "bigger" issues. I wish I could ignore the voice in my head that tells me my stomach is too big and my arms are too flabby. I wish I could stop trying to live up to the impossible standards that our society has created, but it is everywhere. It is so hard to avoid. All this chatter. He's too fat, she's too skinny,  her beach body blows, he should put down the fried chicken. You're fat, you're lazy, you're skinny you're disciplined. You're "too" skinny (which seems to amount to an arbitrary five pound difference in the tabloids) then you are sick.

I'm sick. I'm sick and tired of hearing about it, I'm sick and tired of thinking about it and I am "sick." Just days ago I was diagnosed with Osteoporosis in my hips. Let me remind you that I am not an 83 year old grandmother, I am a 38 year old mom to young boys. Too young for such an elderly disease. I'll never know for sure, but I am quiet confident that my early years of starving myself did nothing for my bone health. As a high school student and through my college years I starved to be thin. Under 90lbs and eating less than 500 calories a day thin. Now, so many years later I am still paying the price tag for "perfection." Skinny doesn't always equal healthy. There are a number of risk factors that may have lead to my diagnosis, my tiny bones, my genetics, but I contributed to my own health problems by listening and internalizing the chatter.

This chatter about weight does nothing to promote health in young women. This culture of skinny leads to self -hatred and destruction. I know that obesity has serious consequences and we need to educate people about the hazards, but what I would give to erase the the moral implications and the skewed perceptions of attractiveness. Your not a bad person if your overweight. Your not less than your slim counterpart. You are not ugly if you are above a size 4. When did beauty become a one-size-fits all? When did being skinny become so damn important?  It's a hurtful, damaging, self-centered culture we have created. Just think, if we put all the money spent on tummy tucks, liposuction, diet pills, fashion magazines, and the resulting therapy bills, into education, environmental issues and health care, the world might truly become a more beautiful place to be.


  1. Yikes, sorry to hear about the Osteo. Respect your honesty though - it's hard to admit we have been complicit in our own health problems.
    Thanks for your comment on my blog too, haven't had much time for blogging but I'm trying to keep it going during this heavy study semester!
    Jo xx

  2. sorry to hear about your hips. The standards we are 'supposed' to live up to are pretty darn crazy, eh?

  3. So sorry it took so long to respond, but I'd been thinking about this post for several days now. I, too, starved myself in high school to be thin. At 5'8", I weighed 96 pounds at my lowest weight. Now, it seems I could break a bone doing the simplest thing, most recently my broken pelvis. Makes me think that I should get a bone density test after hearing about your osteoporosis...

    It's not just women who buy into this size four crap. Even my own husband has the same mentality. If I bring up anything related to attractiveness, his first response is, "Is she a size four with zero body fat? Then she's hot." The entire society needs to address this- it's not just a woman's problem any more.

    (I am aware my husband is an asshole.)