So I had this really nice and politically correct piece typed out about body image and all that, especially since all the haters came out about Lady Gaga’s tummy during the Superbowl and now another conspiracy about Vogue or Vanity Fair or whatever piece of bird-cage lining allegedly altered a photo of Ashley Graham to make her appear thinner. Well when I read through my piece, I realized that it didn’t quite convey my feelings, so give me a second to find that soapbox again. Because folks, I’m putting the angry in hangry with this one and if you want to send the hate mail, well let it come…
Now I realize that for years the media portrayed an unrealistic ideal of the human and (let’s call it like it is) female beauty. Yes Marilyn Monroe was touted as one of THE sex symbols and she had a normal-looking shape. But I think it was around the time that plastic surgery became more accessible, which made having modifications done and socially acceptable and made it possible to have that nose done or breasts bigger or face lifted. Then things started getting seriously extreme. I mean, the new drugs that were being tossed around and popped like Tic Tacs helped I’m sure. Then we started getting the “heroin chic” look. Ya cause nothing is sexier than a walking skeleton with thick black eyeliner. Hey everyone, let’s grab some needles and work on our track marks.
Around the same time, drive-thrus and fast food were exploding across North America so we had cheap and nutritionally empty food. Naturally the waistlines started expanding, thanks to shameless marketing campaigns. Let’s not forget that the sugar consortium were recently exposed as having funded “research” that indicated it was fat and not sugar that was to blame for any kind of health issues. Add an increasingly sedentary lifestyle and watch the weight balloon.
So perhaps it was because people were getting bigger that we held up this supposed ideal of a waif-thin body, because it was something that was so unattainable. Conversely being bigger was to be criticized. Fat is bad and you’re a terrible person for being fat so I’m going to shame you because of it. I mean, it wasn’t that long ago that bullying was seen as part of growing up.
Now, here we have all this knowledge about how metabolism works and it is SO much more complicated than calories in and calories out. There is an increasing recognition of something called “fat and fit”; that a person can be overweight but still athletic. There are people who are running ultra marathons who are far from the “ideal” running shape. Look up Mirna Valerio. She has a blog called “Fat Girl Running”, she has been the subject of several articles and news stories. She is, in her own words, a fat girl, and yet she’s out there running ultras, doing obstacle course races, yoga on top of mountains. Are you going to tell me that she’s not fit? Really?
Now the other side of that are the people that are touting the “I’m big and I’m beautiful” as they shovel a Big Mac down their gullet. Yes good for you for being comfortable in your skin and no you shouldn’t have to change to fit into some mould that society says you should fit into. And if you can run or swim or bike or hike or toss boulders or climb ropes or twist yourself into a pretzel then you have every right to be proud of who you are. Every single damned right to be shouting from the rooftops “Look at me!”.
It’s the ones that are screaming it just to be contrary. “You say I shouldn’t push the big red button? Well guess what button I’m pushing!” If you have to sit down at every bench in the mall because you’re winded, don’t tell me that you’re fine and don’t need to change (barring health issues of course).
Now I’m sure we’ve all seen or known or are people who have serious health issues and have not let them rule their lives. But even if there is an issue and weight and fitness take a tumble, at least acknowledge it and move on. Going through treatment and not having the strength to get out of bed, then yes you are going to lose or gain some mass. Or taking steroids will put on pounds. I get it. I may be sounding like a total asshole but I get that those kinds of situations happen. And it’s easy for me sitting here, in relatively good health to just say to get out and be active. That’s not what I’m saying. It’s the folks that gain the weight and then let it rule their lives and use that as an excuse that drive me nuts. “It’s too hard to lose weight”, “I don’t have the time”, and so on. So what about the people who are missing limbs? Gone through surgeries and chemo and radiation? OK so you put on pounds? Then at least do something to be healthier. You can be big and that’s cool. I’ve been put to shame by people carrying more weight than me. But how dare you tell me “Well it’s easy for you because you’re thin” when I can see the indent in your couch and the stacks of pizza boxes. Put down the take out and pick up some shoes and do something.
I guess what it ultimately comes down to is WHO CARES? Really who cares what size you wear? Be big and beautiful and PROUD of what you can do. Don’t let the haters squawk because you have a roll at the top of your jeans or there’s a little jiggle to the arm. No one can take away your accomplishments. And if you are on that journey to a healthier life, get up every damn day smiling at the fact that you are better than you were the day before. And if you have some hater getting all up in your face, you send them my way and I’ll straighten them out.
Thank you very much.