Those of you who read this blog know that I am always very upbeat and positive. I believe there are few things in life that can’t be fixed with a smile and elbow grease, but these days I’m losing my sparkle. As we enter into the holiday season, there are all kinds of goodies and treats and we all know that January 1st will be here soon enough. Most of us will be back on the treadmill, vowing that this time and this year things will be different.
The problem I have is this. I have no idea what normal looks like anymore.
I have been battling my weight my entire life. If I didn’t have an exercise routine that rivaled a professional athlete, I was always 30-40 pounds overweight. Even with said exercise routine, I rarely got down to what the charts said I should weigh. In fact, I remember sitting in the plus section of a department store and crying.
Six years ago, I found out I had severe food allergies (gluten, casein & soy). No wonder I’d been fat since the 80s, when all the “experts” deemed meat as evil. You shouldn’t be eating that meat! Have a bagel. Now THAT’S healthy. The healthier I’d tried to eat (low fat, whole grain, skim milk) the more I was poisoning myself.
Once I pulled the offending allergens out of my diet, I finally shred the weight I’d always carried around. I was 130 pounds with very little effort and I looked and felt amazing.
Then I got pregnant.
I had the world’s best pregnancy. I ate gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, and organic. I worked out twice a day, six days a week. Even into my 9th month, I was swimming a mile a day and doing step aerobics (even though I could no longer see my feet). Over the course of my pregnancy, I gained 30 pounds. I had a super healthy baby and bounced back to feeling great in no time.
Three years later, I still have those thirty pounds (plus 10 for a total of 40), no matter what I do or how well I eat. If I train hard and don’t lose, I am told “You’re working out too much.” So when I drop the frequency, I get told, “You need to work out more often.”
My diet is mostly lean protein and green veggies. I only use strict amounts of healthy oils like olive oil or coconut oil and eat only good carbs, and am very strict about them, too. I’ve had alcohol on only 4 occasions since July. I don’t eat sweets, drink soda, or use artificial sweeteners.
But none of that matters, at least when it comes to my weight. I am healthy, have beautiful skin and hair. I have enough energy to power a small city and am never sick, but I am still a size 10-12 and 170 pounds.
Why is it no one looks like me?
When we look on TV, we are confronted with extremes–super skinny or clinically obese. We are calling anorexics “beautiful” and calling dangerously obese women “curvy.” We are an a country that is dying because of euphemisms. I hear parents call morbidly obese children “husky,” “big-boned” or “muscular.” We have retailers calling anorexics “curvy.” Take a look at some of my favorite selections:
This is why I will never give Eddie Bauer another DIME.
Or NY & Company…
I wrote Eddie Bauer AND New York & Company letters. I received a nice form letter about “how much my opinion is valued.” Yeah.
Talbots did only slightly better in my Tour of Curves…
Everywhere I went, I tried to find models who looked like me. I’m not super skinny, but I am not yet plus-sized, either. I was shocked at the models retailers used in their catalogs. My favorite models were at THIS site. Lucky Brand you got LUCKY! Their models are so thin they look bow-legged.
Shame on you, retailers.
At Old Navy, they are kind enough to have Plus size clothing, but they don’t use actual models, because we all know fat girls aren’t pretty.
Apparently no woman exists who is between HER:
Barbie Didn’t Make Us Fat…
I constantly hear this silly debate about how Barbie is to blame for girls (and later, women) having body issues.
News Flash…BARBIE IS A DOLL. WE DIDN’T GROW UP BELIEVING WE SHOULD LOOK LIKE A PLASTIC MATTEL TOY. Seriously, give us women a little credit.
High Fashion Dysfunction
We did, however, watch the fashion industry and television and film continue to elevate women who were thinner and thinner and dangerously thinner.
I played with Barbies my entire childhood and felt great about myself. In fact, I never had issues with how I looked until I was fourteen and started reading Seventeen Magazine…and no one looked like me. The girls were all over 5’7,” less than 110 pounds, and ONE body type—the stick.
Girls these days have it even harder. In the remake of the hit 90s show 90210, most of the actresses were frighteningly thin. At one point Jessica Stroup weighed in at 100 pounds, yet she is 5’8″. Shenae Grimes (5’3″) weighed in at 90 pounds.
Fashion Needs to Take Responsibility
It really irritates me that people can blame a plastic toy, but fail to keep the fashion industry accountable. The fashion industry has always been the thought leader when it comes to what we as a society consider beautiful.
In the 1950s, if you weren’t Caucasian, blonde, with blue eyes and curves, you weren’t pretty. It was the fashion industry that started breaking the rules, who started highlighting women of different races, who started showing skinny girls as beautiful in a world that valued the Marylin Monroe body type only. It was the fashion industry who took a risk on a woman with a gap between her teeth (Lauren Bacall), and women of color (Iman).
There was a time that fashion led the charge to opening society’s definition of beauty, yet now when we have reached a crisis point they want to claim they aren’t doing anything wrong and their models aren’t that skinny (Karl Lagerfeld). And, yes, Vogue claims it will tsk tsk the too-young and too-skinny, but I’m not overly impressed with the change. The models still look like bony Amazons in need of a sandwich.
Hey, Vogue! Want to be interesting? Don’t put a bird cage on a woman’s head, put some meat on her bones! You think you are art, when all you are is predictable.
Gee, another anorexic Amazon with poofy lips.
Retailers are Responsible
One might give high fashion a bit of a pass, since no woman is going to wear a birdcage on her head and a bra on the outside of her clothes (and not get carted off to the loony bin), but retailers? Gap, Lucky, Abercrombie, NY&Co, Eddie Bauer ALL use models who are far too thin. Look at the pictures above. If the camera adds ten pounds?
I’ve tried writing letters, but that hasn’t gotten me very far. I feel frustrated. I’ve had all the blood work and I am a perfectly healthy woman…who is a size 10-12.
Can I Make Peace with My Thighs?
I don’t know. That’s the best answer I have. I feel that, if I were African American, I’d be the perfect size and shape. In fact, when I went to get my thyroid tested, the phlebotomist (an African American female) thought they’d written something wrong on my chart.
You’re here for OBESITY? Girl, you look FABULOUS!
We live in a world of magazines that hail how beautiful and curvy Beyonce and Mariah Carey are at a size 12-14, but then the same magazines call Jessica Simpson a cow for being the same size 12-14. Women of color can have curves, but us white gals need to look more like Posh Spice. We can never be too rich or too thin.
I feel like I am at the mad Hatter’s Tea Party where nothing makes sense. No one looks like me, and every ad, every movie and television show is a reminder of how I don’t measure up, how I’m not trying hard enough. I try to buy clothes, and Target has 23 different new “skinny jeans.” I can’t buy clothes because nothing in the Misses department fits a woman with thighs, but I am too small for the Plus size department…
…so I live in yoga clothes, which is fine because I live at yoga and in the gym anyway. We no longer even make clothes to fit normal people anyway.
Where Have All the Size 8s Gone?
Those of us in the middle just seem to have disappeared. I can’t help but wonder if that isn’t at the heart of this nation’s disease. Back in the era when the size 6 and 8 were ideal, we didn’t have near the obesity rates. Have we elevated an impossible thinness and that has made our nation fatter than ever?
My Personal Protest
I decided long ago that I would no longer purchase fashion magazines. Additionally, I refuse to shop from any store that uses only super skinny models. I think if enough women did this, the industry would change. I would say write a letter, but I didn’t get that far.
I know there are naturally thin and small women out there. I never said retailers shouldn’t use skinny models at all. But they shouldn’t be using bone-skinny models to the exclusion of everyone else. If this was a race issue, the fashion industry would be in court by now. If they only photographed Caucasian blondes to the exclusion of Latinas and African American women, they’d be in trouble (and should be). But these days we are facing a different kind of discrimination and it is costing our girls their self esteems.
Out of Control
I have never believed in crash diets or fad diets, but I have gotten to the point that I feel my attitude about food has gotten out of control. I can’t dedicate this much time thinking about everything I eat and do.
Is it non-GMO, gluten-free, dairy-free?
Did I have enough carbs? Too many carbs?
Enough protein? Too much protein?
Enough exercise? Am I overtraining?
The NEW New Year’s Resolution
I’m healthy. My blood tests prove that. For this I am very grateful. I eat really well and have the hair skin and energy levels to show for it. I will work on focusing more on what I do have than what I don’t. Vogue can go to hell. I vow to find a way to make peace with my thighs and somehow learn to love being a size 10-12.
What about you? Do you think this country is out of control? Do you think the extremes have something to do with this? Do you have a hard time accepting yourself as beautiful? What do you struggle with? Have you made peace with your body? Do you have any advice or suggestions?