Weight Issues

Note: This was originally published on my old blog on 8/18/11

Like most women, weight is something I think about daily. Some days I obsess over it. Some days I pretend I don’t care. I’ve tried regular diets, fad diets, and no diets. I’ve studied nutrition and learn tricks that work for my body. I’ve lost and gained in a cycle that doesn’t seem to stop.

One day, I want to close the door on this and never look back. Hopefully that day comes soon.

I don’t think its helpful to blame my weight issues on the media or Hollywood or fashion. They certainly don’t help, but I create my own hangups. I’m the one who gets to decide how I let things effect me.

Hearing Jennifer Hudson’s quote yesterday breaks my heart.

“I’m prouder of my weight loss than my Oscar!” (People)

As the current Weight Watchers spokesperson, she’s been extremely successful and I believe a good model for the company. I’ve done WW a number of times and have been happy with my results. I’m glad that Jennifer has regained confidence that she feels she lost when she entered Hollywood and discovered she was “plus sized”.

Getting healthy should be an important goal. I strongly believe anyone can change their life and if they are successful by their own standards, they deserve to be proud of it. I think her statement that she values the number on the scale more than her award sends a very dangerous message. A message that she fed right back into the Hollywood cycle of promoting thinness as the only rubric women are measured by.

I feel for her in the article when she talks about discovering she’s wasn’t an average size even though where she came from, 16 was normal. She had a healthy self esteem and even though I can’t say that her health was optimal at the size, weight isn’t the only indicator.

She does go on to say that she wants to be a good example for her son, and I applaud that. Getting healthy is an important goal. But any good she may have intended by that statement is negated by her adding more value to her dress size than her accomplishments. What kind of example is it to send to girls who look up to her that regardless of what you do, you will inevitable be judged by your hip to waist ratio?

This is especially troubling when you consider the the study just released on how mass media effects “fat-stigma” in women. The focus of the study was to determine how individual women felt their weight was perceived by those close to them (friends, family, etc). What they determined was that “media and pop cultural messages are so pervasive and powerful that even the most loving support of those closest to us provides only limited protection against them” (Alexandra Brewis, lead author of the study).

Most disturbing to me was Dr. Brewis’ conclusion: “Fat is understood culturally to represent profound personal failing and the attendant moral messages attached to it include laziness, lack of self-control, and being undesirable or even repulsive, So powerful and salient are these anti-fat messages that some Americans say they would rather die years sooner or be completely blind than be thought of as obese.”

Understanding that for many (if not most) women, fat is considered a “personal failing” and individuals are more likely to hear the messages they receive from people they don’t know, like Ms. Hudson, rather than more positive feedback from those they interact with everyday can not be understated. There is no question that obesity is a serious issue in this country and overall health needs to be promoted. This, however, places the focus on what LOOKS good versus what will equal a long healthful life.

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