Thursday, April 8, 2010

On Food Issues. Again.

Wow, I can't believe how many comments and emails I got about yesterday's post. It's reassuring but sad to see that so many of us share the same story and deal with the same struggles when it comes to food, weight, and body image issues. I spent most of my adolescence and early college years in a size 2-4 and always thought I could drop a few pounds. There are very few times I can remember actually being happy with my body. While it's comforting to know that I'm not the only one who felt/feels this way, it makes me sad for the newest generation of girls because I think that things are just getting worse.

A lot of people commented on the pressure that society puts on girls to conform to an unrealistic standard of beauty. In that respect I feel like I kind of got off easy because I have a son rather than a daughter. I don't think that boys/men feel nearly as much pressure from the media, from their peers, to live up to an ideal image. Where are the men's beauty pageants and swimsuit competitions? Are men's clothing brands incorporating vanity sizes the way that women's brands are? It has really gotten out of hand. Not only does it make shopping more difficult because the sizes fluctuate so much store-to-store and season-to-season, but it sets completely unrealistic expectations for what size a woman "should" be. Sizes labeled 00 and XXS do nothing but make us feel like we could (and should) be ever smaller. Why can't designers take a cue from men's clothing and just go by waist/hip measurements?

How can we be expected to teach girls healthy eating and lifestyle habits when they're constantly being bombarded with images of super-freaking-skinny women? Even the cover on this month's issue of Seventeen Magazine features a story called "Get Flat Abs - Fast!" As if there's a quick way to lose weight and spot tone abdominal muscles. We're just setting the bar too high for these poor girls.

This is C and I in February of 2001, two months into dating. I was obviously a thin girl, probably too thin, but I felt like I could be thinner. I wish I had taken the time to enjoy that 19-year-old body of mine.

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It was obviously not a sustainable size for me. A few years later, when I had gained a few pounds and didn't have ribs that stuck through my skin, I made the mistake of trying on that dress and cried when it didn't fit anymore. It SHOULDN'T have fit. It was a size 0 dress made for a high school girl with no boobs and no hips and no real measurements to speak of. The rational side of me knew that, but the irrational side of me was upset that I had let myself put that extra weight on.

If I had known then what I know now about what it means to be healthy rather than what it means to be skinny, and that the two ideas could, indeed, work against each other, maybe I could have been comfortable in my own skin. Maybe they should start using real people in advertisements. Maybe they should re-evaluate the way they talk about beauty and thinness. Maybe they should stop selling diet pills to the under 18 crowd. Maybe we should start focusing on health and eating real food rather than the processed junk and diet "food. I'm sure it's too much to ask for, but maybe if enough of us commit to raising our children differently, somewhere down the line we can change things.


  1. I always have to remind myself that I'm healthy. (I can wear a 4 on good days and a 6 on my "fat" days) But, I'm not the size 0 that I once was and I probably never will be. I can be healthier, but I don't have to strive to be a skeleton.

  2. Guess what? You won the Leifheit kitchen scale on my blog yesterday! Email me so I can put you in touch with teh company rep so she can get you the scale in your choice of color!




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