I had this ‘scheme.’ After being told by numerous doctors that I was overweight, and that I had to cut down, I had experienced a lot of frustration. The final straw came when someone who I had not seen in a while commented that I was too heavy. I decided that I had to lose weight, but since I had already cut down on my eating, been tested for potential causes of weight gain, and found working out not feasible on a long-term basis, I decided to purchase some HCG drops online, and put myself on a near-starvation diet. I had heard about the merits of HCG from others who had used it to achieve significant weight loss. Since it based on a natural concept, I decided it had to be safer and better than other weight loss options, like diet pills.
I ordered and received the drops, and was all ready to get started when my husband caught wind of my little ‘scheme.’ Though he did not agree with the premise, he requested that I, at least, be monitored by a medical professional while on the plan. At first I was upset at his request, but ultimately I chose not to use the drops or go on the extreme low-calorie diet, since I knew that he was right. Instead, I just instituted greater portion control, and ended up losing about 15 pounds. Afterwards, I felt kind of happy to have found a safe way not only to lose weight, but to keep it off on a long-term basis, because the method used was one that is sustainable over time. Needless to say, consuming 500 calories per day is neither safe nor sustainable.
The desire to lose weight is probably the top New Year’s resolution; likewise, it is also the most commonly broken promise. Part of the reason that so many weight loss resolutions go unfulfilled is because people tend to resort to schemes like the one that I mentioned that are neither safe in the short-term nor sustainable in the long-term.
The topic of weight loss has been on the forefront in my own household, but I have also heard some things lately that have gotten me thinking. I read about how manufacturers fool shoppers into buying more clothing by having larger sizes with smaller numbers– so for, example, if you find a size 5 that fits your normally size 7 or 9 frame, you may be more likely to buy it than if you have to buy a size 9 or 11. We like to be fooled into thinking that we are skinnier than we are.
My whole weight experience has been eye-opening, because as much as we talk nowadays about our acceptance of diversity in body image, I really do not think that is the truth. I have always been really skinny, so much so that I used to get made fun of due to it, and had a hard time looking good in my clothes. I was 99 pounds early on during my first pregnancy. At peak with my second child, I got up to 150 pounds, but did not look like much of it was fat. So I know what it is like to be skinny and not have to worry about what I eat. I was spoiled to it, actually.
However, as the years have passed, I have gained weight a little bit at a time. I never worried about numbers or dieting, but felt it was better to be healthy in what I ate, and let that be my guide. Due to a variety of medical-related factors (two pregnancies being one of them), I have gained, and that is what led me to the point that I first described. Bear in mind, my comments from doctors and others that I know were told to me when I was 140-150 pounds, a weight range that is hardly considered fat by most standards. But I am only 5′ 3.5″ and extremely small-boned, so I can’t afford as much weight as another taller, larger-boned woman might be able to.
Despite some insecurities, I was actually happier once my weight was higher. I stopped worrying about every wrinkle or roll, and was actually more solid than my frame ever was, since I have never been muscular in build. But it is hard to feel okay about yourself when you have other people telling you that you are too chunky. Eventually, it sets in, as does having to buy bigger and bigger clothes. You wonder if you are just not seeing how you really look. But I also saw numerous examples of bigger girls that were a lot more confident in themselves, their image, and their fashion sense than even skinny ones, so it made it appear that being larger was just fine, and it is all about how you carry yourself.
My experience made me feel like I was a fool to believe that. After going through what I have been through, I could not help but wonder how people higher in weight than me make it through a day. Maybe once you are a certain size, people lay off trying to change you– I don’t know, but if not, larger people are living a very difficult existence.
I am now down about 15 pounds, and once again, I notice every roll and wrinkle. I like my clothes feeling looser and the effect on my health and overall well-being, but something about this weight makes me feel more self-conscious. Even at this weight, people do not accept you. After hearing so many comments better left unsaid, I still imagine that people are evaluating me and thinking, “Hmmm, she could still afford to lose a few pounds.” I tend to think that because I have always been skinny, I am victim to a higher standard than someone who has always had more meat on their bones.
Recently, I was appalled that people were calling Miley Cyrus fat, and I am sure that much of it has to do with her naturally rounder-shaped face (believe me, I know how much that a fuller face can make you look much chunkier than you really are). It is also because she has grown up in the limelight, and people will not allow her to grow up and develop a woman’s body. She defended herself by reminding people of Marilyn Monroe’s curvy figure that was quite the departure from today’s models of physical perfection. Tyra Banks, who was a model, has also dealt with the same snide comments, yet others, like Beyonce or Jennifer Lopez, are accepted and applauded for their curvier frames– what makes the difference?
All this that has been going on inside my own head was only furthered when I read this article. It talks about a very young plus-size model named Lizzie Miller who chose to take nude photos (nothing racy, though) to show how you can be larger and still have confidence and positivity in your body image.
When you see her, she is very pretty, but she has a normal-sized body. It is the type of body that you expect to see if any of us were to do photos like that, particularly anyone that may have had kids. But she is very beautiful and natural. And it appears that many of the Live Simply, Live Thrifty, Live Savvy readers agree, as within hours of posting the story on the blog Facebook page, it received at least 13 ‘Likes’ and 3 comments supporting her portrayal of real women like us.
Let’s be honest: We are sadly pre-programmed to expect girls that look like Victoria’s Secret models. When you see the photos, you would be lying if you did not say internally, “Whoa, that’s not right!” You may later realize the message behind it and appreciate it, but we are not familiar with seeing average-sized women in photos, advertising, or movies. But indeed, it is all programming.
If you have ever looked at old paintings pretty much from the beginning of time or even photographs from the first half of the 1900s, beautiful women are portrayed with lumps, bumps, and rolls (I wanted to post a photo as an example, but most show too much to make that feasible). Women with larger hips and meat on their bones were symbols of fertility, yet starting in the second half of the 20th century, that programming changed. We were programmed to think that women with almost no body fat were attractive– the skinnier, the better, and not just attractive, but ideal.
This change has gotten us to the point that we look at photos like the ones described above or advertising done by Dove during the Campaign for Real Beauty, and we are slightly taken aback. Some people find it unappealing, and others applaud it for its message. But I guess my question is, why should seeing normal everyday women be so controversial, attention-getting, and divisive? My husband likes to claim that most men don’t really like how Victoria’s Secret models look, for example, but let’s be honest with ourselves– most men and women view how those models look as the ‘ideal.’ Even when we endorse a company’s use of plus size models, why do we do it? Is it because we honestly like the way that they look better, or because we are jealous of the skinnier girls, or because it makes us feel better about our own bodies? Even our reason for liking to see normal-sized models being used in advertising could be skewed, and not at all because we really accept their body size, or our own, for that matter.
The hope is that eventually, people will recognize that a normal body weight is a good thing. Maybe in the future, I will look at a magazine ad or commercial featuring a normal-sized woman, and not be surprised or even slightly rattled by it. But even as one who has been the victim of society’s weight prejudices myself, I still need to be re-programmed to know that all body sizes can be beautiful (not just acceptable)– the most important thing is that someone is healthy and feels confidence in their appearance.
What are your thoughts, opinions, or experiences about the great weight debate? Please speak your mind in the comment section below. (Honesty is invited, but keep it kind in regards to all parties that you may be discussing or talking to– thanks)