I Resolve NOT To Want To Lose Weight

Cross posted from my JUST CAUSE blog

It's that time of year again. Seems like everyone is resolving to lose weight. And some part of me is okay with that, there are probably a lot of people that are unhealthy because of extra weight that is impacting everything from organ function to joint function to their ability to live life as they want to. Those people need to lose weight.

I am not one of those people. I don't say that to gloat, I say that because even though any rational person would look at me and say that I am in great shape, (at least for a woman "of a certain age" who has given birth) I still look in the mirror and think, "hmmmm, when did that happen?" By "that," I mean the fact that my inner thighs touch, my outer thighs are wider than my butt, my breasts are apparently running for cover in my navel and my stomach is still proudly proclaiming "a baby lived here once." Hmmmmm, indeed.

I struggle, every day, with loving my body for the things it can do and not for how closely it resembles what the beauty industry says it should.

Back to it being, "that time of year." While I firmly believe that people need to find a healthy weight and get there, I am terrified of people who are at a healthy weight trying to lose more in order to meet some ridiculous UNREAL standard set by the beauty industry.

In my inbox I received some New Years Resolutions from Sephora, a previously favorite cosmetics store. They offered me some New Years Resolutions, including "I Will Lose Weight" and a promo for some appetite-suppressing, low-cal lip gloss. Okay, first of all, I cannot imagine a stupider product. Does anyone really eat a tube of lip-gloss? But that set aside, I have some serious messaging issues here:

* You should be so obsessed with your weight that you are even counting calories with lip-gloss.
* You need to eat less, so this tastes good enough that you won't realize you are not eating food.
* Whoever you are, we are confident that you either need to lose weight, or are insecure enough about your body that you'll believe us when we tell you that you need to lose weight and will buy this product to ease that fear.

Really, it's the last point that gets me.

Let's look at some statistics provided by National Eating Disorders Association:

* 10 million women are fighting life-threatening battles with Anorexia and Bulemia.
* 80% of women report being dissatisfied with their bodies
* 40% of newly reported cases of Anorexia & Bulemia are in girls 15-19 years old
* The rise in these cases has been 30% annually since the 1930's
* 42% of 1st - 3rd grade girls want to be thinner
* The average American woman is 5'4" tall and weighs 140 pounds. The average American model is 5'11" tall and weighs 117 pounds.

When I look at numbers like that, it is hard for me to come to any conclusion other than that women and girls body image is shaped by media messaging. And that makes media messages - even seemingly stupid and innocent ones like the one from Sephora - really important in shaping not only the bodies but the body image and self-esteem of at least half our population.

That message may have been stupid, but it is part of a national health crisis.

A crisis based, literally, on lies. Because if you know anything about images in the media, you know they are not real. Not even kind of. Luckily, the women at 5 Resolutions, who work tirelessly to battle these media messages have put together a really nice summary of the year in re-touched photos . This great link has several examples of retouched and original photos of celebrities we are all familiar with, as well as the great Dove Video showing the process of being turned from a "regular" person into a super model. I recommend these for anyone - but especially for those of us raising girls.

Look, I do want to lose 5 pounds. Really. But, here's the deal. I'm having a blast in this body exactly how it is. This body - complete with a few extra pounds - has taken me to Mountain tops, finished triathlons, held my daughter, made love to my husband, walked miles with friends and can still put on a fun costume and party all night. This body does not define me, but what I do with it does.

Ironically, I was going to sit down and write a piece about childhood obesity tonight. But I got that inane email from Sephora, and I couldn't ignore it. Even more ironically, that post (which I will probably write soon) will have much of the same messaging.

We need to be healthy. Not too big, not too small. We need to be who we are, not what magazines tell us to be. We need to support each other in our efforts to be healthy, secure and proud of ourselves.

And we sure as hell need to NOT fall for stupid marketing ploys like low-calorie, appetite-suppressing lip gloss.


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