I never know quite what to say when someone says he or she is dieting, when clearly there is nothing wrong with his or her body. I know the conventional response is to say, "Good for you!" or "Good luck!" But, I just can't. I have to literally implore the fruit of the Spirit--Self Control--to help me not say, "What are you kidding me?"
I know a woman who is trying to get her body fat below a certain point and what she sees in the mirror disappoints her. She's probably a size 4. I know a lovely curvy woman who wants to look like she hasn't had children. I know someone who is middle aged who is trying to be the same size, shape and weight as this person was at 18 years old. Personally, I just don't get it. Since I've passed 18 years old, I have never once desired to be that size, shape or weight again.
I mean, I'm living life! I'm having some adventures and some mishaps and birthing some babies and facing real life drama and grieving the loss of loved ones gone to be with Jesus and getting stressed over nothing and running through sprinklers with the kids and eating fabulous food along with the occasional entire package of Red Vines.
This is real life, baby!
And in the course of real life I'm getting a few gray hairs and some stretch marks on my belly and thighs. I'm getting laugh lines and hopefully not too many frown lines. I fully expect by the time I'm fifty to be a few pounds pudgier and a lot more beautiful.
Beauty is an experience, nothing else. It is not a fixed pattern or an arrangement of features. It is something felt, a glow or a communicated sense of fineness.~ D. H. Lawrence
Perhaps this goes against the way you were raised or the messages you've believed, but probably nine times out of ten I think dieting is in opposition to health. You all know that I'm a health nut. And I like to exercise and be active But, I don't do so to obtain some artificial standard of beauty or acceptability. I think our culture's messages about what and who is beautiful and what is acceptable for size and shape is so out of line.
Health is about balance. It's your mind, emotions and spirit being in-tune with God and enjoying the world around you. It's about having enough energy and stamina to do the things you love, without sacrificing enjoying life along the way. It's about using your body as a tool for living a great life, not for preserving it like a piece of art in a museum. Just like tools you use in your kitchen or in your garden we have to keep the tool in working order. But, after you've had it 20 years if it still looks exactly like the day you bought it including it's protective coating, you've obviously not been using it properly.
Health is not a number on a scale or a date on a calendar. It's not the number on the tag of the clothes you buy or whether or not you compare with who is on the cover of Vogue.
Look at our culture's messages--which are billed as "health":
Slim = Happy
And you can have this happy equation in just 48 hours.
I'm so sick of things saying "Anti-aging." What so wrong with aging anyway?
Isn't that the point of life? To mature, to have experiences, to grow old?
And this next one! Oh come on! I think everyone looks good naked. We all can't look like we are airbrushed. Sure, I have some cellulite and some belly flab, but I still look good!
In Eat, Pray, Love (a movie, I did not like actually), I love the scene when Julia Robert's character tells her friend to eat the pizza in Napoli. The friend is worried about her "muffin top." Julia's character says something to the effect of, "I bet that any time you have ever undressed in front of a man, he has never asked you to leave. Eat the pizza."
Naked is naked. There is no looking bad. Enjoy.
What's the message here? The perfect size is one size smaller than you currently are.
Beat Ab Flab. The message here is that NORMAL is sculpted. Anything else has to be beaten into submission. The number of "normal" people in the world is strikingly small.
Although billed as "women's health" and "fitness" these messages are anything but healthful! Listen up...real woman come in all shapes and sizes. More often than not we have some curves and some roundness. We don't look like the cover of a magazine--we are better than that. We have had real lives, not scripted lives. We've carried and birthed children and nursed them at our (slightly more saggy than when we were 18 years old) breasts. We have cared for the sick and been at the bedside of the dying. We have been up at 2am catching our family's vomit in a kitchen pot. We've danced the night away with the one we love. We have laughed 'til we cried and cried until we laughed. We've gotten ourselves into some sticky situation and loved our way out of them. We've spent some time with our faces in the carpet before the Lord and got some skid marks on our souls.
You don't live a whole lifetime of adventures and come out looking like you did in high school. If you do, I think you haven't been doing it right.
The sooner we all accept that the sooner we can throw out the pills and shakes and complicated diet plans and start really living! Loving ourselves! Being confident enough to be active! And let our inner sexy shine through! (Let it shine even through the gray, the pudgy and the not-exactly-flat abs.)
We can only blame men so far, ladies. We do this to ourselves much of the time. As every woman knows, "I am my own worse critic." We are the ones a month postpartum who are kvetching that we need to get back to our pre-pregnancy size. (Which in the long-run is actually damaging our health!) We are the ones who buy all these "women's magazines" with covers that bear no resemblance to real life and with ads that objectify us. We are the ones who buy into these fad diets that are actually making us as a society fatter and not slimmer. If women took charge of their own health and joy, rejecting these messages around us, would men suffer? No. We'd be more confident, sexier, and happier. And what man wouldn't want to live with a confident, sexy, happy woman?!
We have the power ladies.