Like manna from Heaven. I’ve been waiting for a good topic for my 700th blog post. Something I could use a controversial title for. This is dangerous territory. Watch out for the ROUS.
From Twitter to SoulBounce to this blog entry:
It’s a critique of this commercial (that I don’t necessarily recommend watching):
Now, you know this is like a salt lick for an ovine to me. I can’t not blog about it. The trick for me is to maintain the intended tone. I have passion and compassion here but it’s so easy to be sarcastic and dickish when blog writing. I may fail.
Personally, I’m not crazy about that commercial because of all that blowing. “Blowing” in the musical sense. Despite all of her talent and vocal technique and power, after a point it’s … caterwauling. Neat concept, though.
I was kind of blindsided by this blog and some of the comments. I mean — well, first let me just queue up my brain stack.
1. In the ad in question, Jennifer Hudson isn’t skinny, per se. Relatively, yes, but she’s still curvy.
2. The contention that you have to be rich and privileged to lose weight. And/or the implication that she only looks better due to fashion, makeup and dollars.
3. Body policing and fat shaming
Quotable: “It’s a trap!”
I’m going to try to keep this short so if you didn’t have time to read Pretty Brown Girl’s blog — but I hope you did — here’s the next to last paragraph.
Stop telling us through these awful commercials that tired ass “This could be you story”. The average woman (who is a size 12/14, by the way) is not going to be able to transform like Jennifer did without Jennifer’s funds. And those funds came to be via the success she enjoyed with her Fat Body.
I don’t know much, if anything, about fashion or dress/clothes sizes for women. But this is just wrong. So wrong. Well, let me step back from that. Yes, money helps. Yes, rich and famous people have access to more options for whatever their body goals are. But the contention that you can’t transform like that without her money is all kinds of wrong.
It may be a sincerely held belief, but it’s a lie. It’s an insidious bit of mind f*ckery that’s all too easy to believe because it lets us off the hook. The most effectively destructive lies are the ones we tell ourselves.
Look. I mountain bike in the Summers. Tough, enjoyable exercise — I can burn 1,000 calories per hour — that I love to do. Burn a lot of calories that way. Never lost much weight doing it, though.
Last year I started semi-private functional strength training. First, I got sore. No, first I was embarrassed. Then I got sore. Very sore. Then I felt old and broken. Then I got stronger and faster. It does cost money per month. It’s another bill. Not everyone can afford that. BUT! I didn’t start losing weight (fat) until I changed my diet. What change did I make?
Limiting my carbohydrates to around 100 grams per day. Most people could transform their bodies starting there. Then if you up your daily activity a little bit with walking or get some activity buddies, you’ll be shocked at the progress you make over the course of a few months. And years.
No surgery necessary. No pre-packaged foods. In fact, you’d be a lot better off with natural foods. The outer aisles of the grocery store.
If we all took a week to log what we eat and then looked through it later, it would be easy to see where all of the extra, refined calories are.
This is the part where I have to be careful. First, please note I’m intentionally omitting any discussion of physiques that I’m most attracted to. I’m keeping my body type preferences out of this because that’s not what this is about.
It is largely about health. That may be separate from body image but it’s extremely important. I ask myself these kinds of questions, thinking a few decades down the road.
- How old do you want your child(ren) to be when you die? Before they graduate high school? Before college? Before they’re married? Before they retire?
- Do you want to be a part of your grandkids’ lives?
- How many knees do you want to have replaced?
- Where do you want your chronic pain to be? In the back and neck? Maybe inexplicable internal pain. A generally debilitating, overall body weariness?
- Do you want to increase or decrease your chances of getting cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc.?
There are things we need to let go of, culturally. The way I try to maintain a reasonable tone is to imagine one of my relatives reading this. Because this is about health. And it is about body image.
What’s your body image going to be when you have your leg amputated below the knee due to diabetes complication? Y’know?
Not Fat isn’t the same as Skinny
Please, please, please do not buy into the notion that you’re either fat or skinny. There is such a thing as being overweight. There’s such a thing as being underweight. You can be overweight and healthy. You can be skinny and unhealthy. You can be skinny and have a high body fat percentage; skinny fat.
You’ve heard the saying: Strong is the new skinny.
If you are overweight or obese, you need to work on losing fat. Period. No excuses. You need to.
No one (in their right mind) is saying that you need to be rail thin. I can pretty much guarantee you that no one out there is looking at you thinking you need to look like one of those tall, scarily thin models on fashion runways.
Your best you isn’t going to be Hollywood thin or magazine cover thin. Hell. They, usually, aren’t that thin. Most of the images we see are all kinds of edited. Freakishly so, in my opinion.
What I’m saying is, to defend one’s self by citing an opposite extreme is a tactic of distraction. To be indignantly anti-skinny is self destructive. To be militantly overweight is insanity. It’s an excuse. It’s suicide.
Fat Shaming & Body Policing
I guess a lot of this comes from the media. Maybe personal interaction. Messages from every which way. I mean, no one has the right — well, they may have the right to do it but it would be a real a-hole thing to do — to come up to you and say, “Hey, you’re really overweight. You need to lose a few pounds.”
I guess family members do that kind of thing more than anyone should. That does not help, though.
I do not want to be fat. I do not want to be overweight. The image in my mind of myself is still circa 20 years old. My body doesn’t match that image + 19 years. My body, up until March 2011, matched the habits of someone who got in good but unvaried exercise seasonally or in phases but ate anything he wanted when he wanted and spent 10 to 16 hours a day in a seated position and 8 more hours supine asleep. (In my next LGN blog I’ll post some of my horrible eating habits from years past where I ask, “How am I still alive?”)
Yeh, it’s painful to see famous women be scrutinized inch by inch all over the media. Lose weight, gain weight, too fat, too skinny, pregnant, not pregnant, eating disorders. It’s crazy. It’s much less intense for men. For men, it’s whether or not there are six pack abs. And if not, does he look good with stubble and/or in an expensive suit.
But that’s not an excuse for us, as individuals, needing to take responsibility for ourselves and our loved ones.
We can NOT sit around and say that losing weight is a matter of privilege. No. It’s a matter of personal responsibility. It’s not easy. Getting started isn’t easy. The urge to lose weight quickly is probably the biggest destroyer of weight-fat loss efforts.
I mean, being overweight does not make you a bad person. You’re not overweight because of some horrible character flaw. If you’re overweight — like I still am, by the way, although steadily approaching my phase 2 goals — it’s because you’ve developed bad habits. We’re swimming in cheap fattening (fast sugar) foods. It’s amazing if you think about it. We have to go out of our way to NOT eat too many calories because they’re all around us in densely packed, conveniently portable snack and fast food form. Better living through chemistry!
Also, I’m in no way putting down women who are naturally thin or skinny. I don’t want to imply that there’s something off about healthy and thin women. You also rock.
Make a change for the better. Stick with it. Eat unprocessed or minimally processed foods. Be more active. That’s all it is. It’s not complicated but it’s hard to swap out routines and habits. For most people. There may be some hormonal issues and medical issues, but … you know. That means that it’s even more important to try to maximize one’s health because of those unfair odds.
But hey, if you have the money, take a fun class of some sort. Zumba people always look like they’re having a good time.
At the risk of losing some of you, get a personal trainer (or semi-private personal trainer like I do) and lift weights. It’s hard work but it will work wonders for your physique if you stick with it for months and listen to your trainer’s dietary guidelines. Ladies, you will not bulk up like Ahnold.
But seriously. Whatever little change you make for the better is progress.
I’m so inspired by all of my friends and relatives who have taken steps in the past few months and years to get a handle on their health and fitness. It keeps me going. Seriously, despite all of the progress I’ve made I still feel demoralized sometimes for one reason or another: still have a too-high body fat percentage, still lack confidence with the ladies, still get tired after long hard exercise, still get very sore after some workouts and take a long time to recover, etc.
Seeing you all make small changes to your habits or big changes in your activities and goals — people are walking, jogging, cooking, training for races, racing for training, weight lifting, yoga-ing, dancing, replacing bad foods with good foods — it’s amazing.
Whenever I lack motivation I can go on Facebook and look at my Facebook friends’ feeds and it doesn’t take long (even if I exclude my gym people) to see someone doing something kickass.
Keep it up.
If you haven’t gotten there yet, what’s to wait for? We’re here for you when you’re ready to jump in. You’re not alone. That’s for sure.
Click here to see all of my LGN (I want to Look Good Naked) and functional strength training posts.