Ok, folks, I am stumped. I mean really stumped. If you imagine me as someone that is very rarely at a loss for words…… well, you are spot on. However, this is one of those rare (and valuable for many that know me) occasions, where words just escape me. I know many refer to this as writer’s block; but, I am not sure that what I have is a clear cut diagnosis. You see, I know what I want to write about, I know the thoughts that I want to reveal; however, I seem to be paralyzed beneath the severity of the feelings I want to share and the hope that they don’t get lost in the sensitivity of the topic. I have missed my almost daily interaction with my readers and I have tried multiple times to write an entry on another topic until I could find the words that are eluding me……. but, apparently I have a one track mind that does not allow for a new subject to be broached until the current topic of my obsession has been cleared (this could be a problem!). So, here goes it……
I stumbled across a new blog lately, Eat a Cheeseburger. I like, borderlining on love, this blog. It is spunky, clever and honestly, it makes a valid, much needed point. The media’s obsession with thin, specifically the death-knocking-on-your-door-with-a-sledge-hammer kind of thin, is a message females of all ages are bombarded with daily. This message takes a devastating toll on many girls and has been documented time and again. I spent the last 18 months of my time in high school subsisting on a diet of jelly beans and rice cakes. Why, you ask? Oh come on, you know, it’s that whole sweet ‘n salty thing….. yeah, right! I was desperate to be skinny. My desperation was not as much a result of the media as it was from pressure I felt from home. Either way, from a very young age we learn the “value” placed on being thin.
The “skinny message” must be falling on a few deaf ears though. This is evidenced by the spiraling obesity figures in this country. Childhood and adult obesity rates are increasing every year and we are now seeing this trend in Europe and Japan. And, you know what? This trend has not escaped the media’s attention. Have you seen FOX’s show More to Love? This show is marketed as a “The Bachelor” for girls that literally have more to love…… as in more weight. I have been disturbed by this concept from the word go. So, now the media, realizing the growing number of viewers who also have “more to love” are going to profit from a weight message that is just as dangerous as their get-thin-or-die-tryin’ escapades.
My new favorite blog’s most recent post discusses their “hope that women will not feel pressure to change the way they look just because they are given such a limited view of appearance from the media.” My response – are we really only given a “limited view of appearance from the media”? I am not so sure. The contestants on More to Love present the morbidly obese view of appearance. FOX did not choose to use the average-size 12/14-American-girl (also ridiculously referred to as “plus size”) who in comparison to their The Bachelor counterparts definitely have “more to love” AND offer viewers a realistic, healthy view of appearance. Romanticizing obesity (I weighed 250 lbs during most of my 20’s), dressing it up and advocating an eat-what-you-want-and-dont-worry-about-your-weight approach is just as dangerous as blasting the dont-you-dare-eat-dont-you-dare-even-think-about-it look. There are crippling side effects of both extremes…… life threatening effects.
26 million people in this country are diabetic (95% are type II and the majority of those are obese) and 54 million are pre-diabetic. 80 million people, ALMOST ONE THIRD of the US population are affected by this disease….. the largest risk factor for diabetes? Obesity. I couldn’t agree more with Eat A Cheeseburger’s sentiment of “hoping that women will not feel pressure to change the way they look just because they are given such a limited view of appearance from the media”; however, I hope that we can feel pressured to change the way we look because our survival is dependent upon it. As I sat in a doctor’s office last week listening to the results of a CT scan that revealed a fatty and enlarged liver I was shocked by my physician’s stumbling, stuttering and complete decimation of the word ‘overweight.” She was trying to explain that my weight could cause these results and she says, “your BMI is 28, so, you, are, um……o-o-o-o-o-overweight.” This reminded me of when I thanked my OB/gyn for sticking with her yearly plea, “I need you to lose weight” and she told me that she had lost many patients over that plea. What is going on? We will listen to a magazine, to a TV show, to a blog, to our parents, or our friends……. but those that are charged with managing our health, well, their words, get lost in translation. My docs don’t care if my jeans make my butt look big or if my big butt is just, well, BIG. They only care if my big butt is causing my big blood glucose numbers. That is the only translation that matters.
I promise, I am almost there…… I am almost out of words for this entry and then you can load your cannons and fire away. The entry that got all this started was again from Eat A Cheeseburger –Kids and Dieting: it’s not just the “media’s” fault. Having been skinny-by-starvation and morbidly obese and now being the mother a flawless 2 1/2 year old daughter……. I am beyond sensitive to how I raise her in regards to her body image. Because of my own obesity induced health obstacles, I want her to understand the importance of maintaining a healthy weight…… for her health, NOT how her rear end looks in a pair of jeans! So, when I read this entry and it asked the question, “If Mom is constantly dieting and obsessed with her food portions and her weight and is exercising like a maniac, what type of message does it send to her 4th grade daughter?” I had a fairly strong reaction. I am on Weight Watchers. I exercise 6 days a week. I test my blood 4–5 times a day. I weigh once a week. I can honestly tell you that I do this FOR MY HEALTH. I do this so that I can witness as many days of this flawless creature’s life as humanly possible. Somehow, this could be a harmful message to send her. But, encouraging her to drink water instead of Woo-Hoo or to eat baked sweet potato fries instead of cheese fries, or to exercise, or teaching her to make healthy choices and that she can eat ANYTHING in MODERATION…… well, this message, too, could be lost in translation.
So, what is the alternative? To not say a word? To not teach a thing? To not live by example? I do not think that is right either. For the first time ever, the current generation of children is not expected to live as long as their parents. This is unacceptable to me. I am her mother and for a long time I will be her compass. I will find a way to teach her to love herself, to love herself inside and out, to love herself enough to make the choices that keep her healthy and yes, to love herself enough to change the way she looks if it will help ensure her survival.
I am not sure I have arrived at any great conclusion. In fact, I am pretty sure I have no conclusions. I am also not sure that what I have said hasn’t touched a nerve with someone else. It is not my intent to pass judgement on anyone, it is only my intent to share my thoughts and ask that you share yours.
The Dishing Diabetic