OBSESSION: Why Your Waist Size Shouldn’t Define You
Feb 11, 2011 Posted by Corrie Shenigo
The Super Bowl has come and gone and that means one thing: it’s time to start obsessing about the catastrophic effects the football food trifecta of tater tots (mmm… tots), hotdogs and beer have had on that little number on the scale – that’s starting to seem not so little anymore. Why do I care where that digit lands? I don’t really know – but I do know that I feel better when I can look at it and think – oh, wow, I think I’ll rock my skinny jeans today! Yes. I am apparently that superficial.
You may be asking: why stress? ‘Cause as women, especially in America… that’s how we do. In a recent clip from the Today show, the super serious Meredith Vieira takes a closer look at why we obsess about our weight the ridiculous impact it has on how we feel about ourselves. And sure, when we put it like that it just seems silly. We are certainly more than the sum of the parts of this weighing torture device, are we not? Maybe. But our media battered psyches are not buying it.
Is this obsession ingrained in our very beings through generations of self-loathing, fad-dieting ladies desperate to achieve the figures of the most recent “It” girl? Vieira takes a peek into the history books to find that fad diets and exercise gimmicks go back a staggering 150 years ago. Your ancestors may have bathed with La Parle Obesity Soap (claiming to positively reduce fat without dieting or gymnastics. – Amazing! Sign me up!) or munched down on 1940’s laxative beans (fiber – yum). Heck, if your Mom was anything like Vieira’s guest Lisa Lillien’s – author of Hungry Girl, Happy Hour, founder of HungryGirl.com ,and star of The Food Network’s Hungry Girl. (Show off.) – it could just be a matter of more nurture, less nature.
“You know my Mom did go up and down,” Lillien said, “and [she] tried every fad diet. So I grew up thinking that fad diets worked and that you can be on a diet and then off a diet. And that’s just not the case.” So back to our learned response theory, I think we can safely blame our Moms. Okay, Okay. Not just Moms (sorry Mom).
Plus-size supermodel and founder of EmmeNation.com, Emme travels all over the world talking to young girls about weight and body image and puts a portion of the blame on the beloved media, especially in America. “ It seems like everywhere you go, especially in America [you see] one image. Over and over and over again. It’s a pre-pubescent, very unattainable image to try to get a hold of.”
Yet try, we do.
Citing the varying admirable attributes of silver-screen goddesses throughout the ages, such as Greta Garbo, Rita Hayworth, Marilyn Monroe, Twiggy and Cindy Crawford – not to mention the emaciated look that’s reigned the runway and fashion magazines for the better part of the last 10 years, right down to the physiologically impossible measurements of our Barbie dolls – our good friend Meredith points out that coveted body shapes have changed throughout the years. Some years want curves, some years want waiflike androgeny… even Barbie shaved off a few lbs. several years back. So, if this is true – doesn’t that make all of our attempts at emulation a little empty? I mean, what if the next body trend is the exact opposite of the one we just attained through 2 ½ hours of cardio and squats three times a day? Seems like a lot of time wasted living at the gym, instead of… well… living.
“It’s a catch 22,” says the multi-tasking Emme. “What you see is what you try and aspire too. I think what we need to do to change that is to use your voice and say: These images really don’t make me feel very good or there are not enough images that I can relate too. We can’t sit back apathetically and let that happen, these products are gonna keep on coming with this imagery because we’re not saying anything. So you have to use your voice. They’ll listen. They’ll totally listen.” Noted. Open your face and allow disapproving sounds to come out.
“The aperture has to open to not just include the look, the color, or the flavor of the month.” I was totally with you Emme, until this exceedingly floral and precious analogy sprung from her supermodel lips. “There [are] many, many flowers and not just one tulip.” (Ugh. I’ll forgive the unforgivable flower/female comparison because the message is true, but in the future, please spare us all the attempted poetry. Fo realz.)
The bottom line is this: There are some things you can’t change, some things you shouldn’t change, and some things that – in order to be healthy and happy – you might want to consider changing. But expectation is key here, people. And regardless of the outcome – and forgiving of a pukey-precious sound-bite – the curve of your waist isn’t the measure of who you are. And it probably never should have been in the first place.
'til Next Time!