Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Body Image Evolution (or is it revolution?)

I did my own illustrations!
Last weekend, my mom brought me a bundle of yellowed, tattered notebook paper. It was a collection of stories I had written as a kid, which she had rescued from the trashcan all those years ago and saved for posterity. The folded-in-half pages sent me back about 25 years to my desk in the room I shared with my sister, complete with a pink desk blotter that had a little quill-style pen holder and a notepad on the side to jot down all my genius ideas. I'd write stories about fabulously rich girls who had everything I wanted in life.

As it turned out, everything I wanted in life boiled down to three things: long hair, hot rollers, and "a perfect figure." As I read the opening paragraphs of my walk down memory lane, I flushed with a frustrated feeling that was half embarrassment and half sadness. I wanted to go back in time and try to convince my younger and body-obsessed self that a seemingly perfect figure is a myth, and that by the way I looked perfectly wonderful just as I was. Besides, I actually did have hot rollers. But my hair was too short to use them.

Its not unusual for girls as young as five years old now to put themselves on diets, even as our media becomes more liberal with its definition of beauty:

And, while I am saddened by obesity as a lifestyle choice and argue that everyone has an obligation to themselves and responsibility to their community to create the healthiest body they can, I also know that health comes in more sizes than 0.
Health is complicated, and our bodies defy logic every day. We all know people who can eat a mountain of saturated fat but never gain a pound. But while the effects of that kind of living might not show up as a spare tire, it catches up in other ways. Being "skinny fat" carries real risks to health that shouldn't be ignored. This article about the rising levels of Type-2 Diabetes among seemingly healthy women - seeming healthy simply because they are not fat - proves the point. 

If I could go back in time and hug my younger self, I'd whisper in her ear, "perfection is overrated." And relative. And irrelevant. But I wouldn't expect myself to listen or believe it. It took 25 years for me to figure out that true wellness comes not from loving my body as it is, but from becoming a partner with it to turn it into something truly incredible.

I still don't have long hair, and I lost my hot rollers ages ago. But I do have a perfect figure. Perfect for me, that is, in a completely relative and irrelevant way that my younger self would never have understood.

Get out there and get healthy today, even if it takes 25 years.

1 comment:

Rachel Page said...

It's hard, but what you said is true.