I was finally able to sit down and get my thoughts out on the serious topic that
I mentioned last week so I figured I’d get them think them out loud today…
A couple of weeks ago, I picked up an old issue of Shape Magazine out of the waiting room at work. After thumbing through a handful pages, noting manicure tips, stress relievers like gelato cake strain, and a decent body-weight workout, I then came across an advertisement for a weight loss supplement.
My opinion of using supplements for weight loss is a topic for entirely another day, but what really got my blood boiling (to the point of blasting the poor guy working with me with a ten-minute rant) was this:
Since when are we able to defy genetics, open up a bottle, and magically become a
stick figure Victoria Secrets model? Better yet, WHY do we as women submit ourselves to this kind of propaganda? Why do we allow ourselves to believe for one minute that women in ads aren’t airbrushed to the point of ridiculousness. Why do we think the ideal woman looks like a Barbie doll? WHAT is wrong with having curves?
Over the last two years, my body has gone through a lot of changes. I’ve had the “almost” abs. I’ve had the whispers behind your back that go along with losing too much weight. And I’ve had (or currently have) the coined “muffin top”. And according to what you see these days, I guess, given my present state, I should be researching the latest diet…workout regime…or hmmm, maybe I should eliminate gluten (or better yet ALL carbs and subsist only on celery and protein powder) until I’ve whittled my waist down to a size two.
I should NEVER eat white rice, bread, or sugar. I should only “allow” myself three servings or less of fruit a day. I should do cardio and yoga and lift weights and save babies from burning buildings and feel guilty if I miss a workout. I should pick a body part to bash along with my fellow females at the next party I attend. And at the end of a long day if all I want is some music and a glass of wine, I better break out the measuring cup so I don’t “over do” it. Just make sure it’s red…and dry…
Because anything else isn’t “good” for you.
And forget about having a cookie. I haven’t “earned” it.
Rules. Rules. Rules. What started out as helpful tips to point people in a healthy direction has taken a lot of us and twisted our minds to the point of living life by a list of do’s and don’t so we’re sure we’re doing all the “right” things. At least that’s how it was for me after I started calorie counting. You learn one rule…and then another…and then, the next thing you know you’re having a meltdown in the middle of the soda aisle at Wal-Mart because you’re too afraid of drinking diet but you’re too afraid of having sugar but all you want is a fucking COKE!
I commend all of you out there who have stayed above the propaganda and can maintain a healthy balance all on your own, but for me things are a bit different and constantly seeing ads or hearing women talk in a way that is constantly bashing their bodies gets me riled up. Once you get caught up in the bullshit, it’s hard to climb your way out. For a while, I didn’t think I’d ever be able to accept my body past a certain point of thinness, but I never want to go back to the life I had with all the rules. That life where I always felt guilty…for anything, everything, or nothing at all. So maybe I’ll never be a size four again, but really, if that’s all I’m missing out on, I don’t really see it as a loss.
No questions today…just your thoughts.
And I’d love it if you read this article.
This post is EXACTLY how I feel about dieting, fitness ads, and body shaming. I refuse to look back on my life and feel like I spent my 20s counting calories and not enjoying myself because I can only eat “clean” food!
I totally feel you on how HARD it is to get out of this stupid cycle of rules and body bashing. I mean, I am THE example for not understanding that I miss out on LIFE for fucking 20 years only cause I wanted to be skinny. It’s nonsense. A certain shape or a certain size does NOT make us happy. Friends, wine, a good workout (one that needs a good load of carb-fuel :-)) and of course cookies with a side of a salad as big as our heads do. Cheers to that.
It really is true that wisdom comes with age. But those years were not wasted because now you are THE role model for women in a similar situation and you have the ability to share your story with them! Cheers to THAT!
This post makes me so HAPPY!!! I wish that everyone in the world could read this. WHY do we assume that we’re always wrong? Why do we assume that everything we’re doing couldn’t possibly be enough? I’m all for living a healthy life but when the desire for a specific “shape” is an all consuming, unrealistic, unattainable process, it becomes totally pointless. Part of healthy living is a healthy mindset.
Thank you for sharing this, Heather!
Well said!! Thank you so much for sharing your perspective, Liz! I swear I look like a freaking bobble head nodding after every sentence! Haha!
Love this, especially: “I should do cardio and yoga and lift weights and save babies from burning buildings and feel guilty if I miss a workout.” This drives me absolutely crazy. I have to remind myself sometimes to tune out those messages. I flat-out refuse to participate in body-bashing chit-chat because it’s such an energy-suck.
YES!! It’s ridiculous how contagious body-bashing can be…and if you’re around it enough, it can really do a number on you. Good for you for taking a stand!
I think the moment we take for granted the choices we make to become health concious we start depriving ourselves and putting ourselves down. i have to constantly remind myself to take pride and celebrate the small victories! I think that is key.
That is such a great perspective, Linda! Yes, always celebrate those little things…because they add up to BIG things! 🙂
Omg, preach it sister! Sooo many points you just made rang true for me. I feel this way all the time, and I hate how propaganda becomes ingrained into our mindsets. Thank you, thank you, for being a voice of positivity.
There will be critics who say “oh but cookies and soda and white bread ARE unhealthy!” .. True. But you know what’s even more unhealthy? The guilt we feel when we allow ourselves to be anything less than perfect.
I hope to do a post on this soon, also. Sooo many thoughts on this!
AaaaaaaMEN!! The image of unobtainable perfection leading all this along is so true! Sounds like we are on the exact same page. Let me know when you publish the post! I’d love to hear more of your thoughts on the topic.
I love this post so much and it hits home for me on so many levels. This post just makes me happy. You’re awesome.
This comment makes me smile. Thank you so much, Leah! You just made my day! 😀
I was all disgonnabegood.gif when I saw your title.
Did not disappoint!
That ad is ridiculous.
Thanks SO much for that article link, too. That shh! is for real.
Haha! Thank you so so much, Missy!
Just eat the damn brownie… I fucking love this. I ate a few blondies this week…
Oh those blondies! I’m still dreaming of them! How dare you not share?! :*(
I couldn’t agree more with you! I have definitely succumb to being sucked into the “dieting rules” and as soon as I think I have it figured out, I read a different article that completely contradicts what I just read. Soy is good for you, no soy is actually terrible for you – which one is it? I am just a firm believer in everything in moderation! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
For real!! One minute wine is good for you, then it’s not. Then coffee’s good for you, then it’s not. Like hell…we’re all gonna die of something one day, might as well go out doing (or eating or drinking) what we love! Lol
YES to all of this! It’s so hard to break away from all that shit that gets promoted in the media daily, but it’s so, so freeing when you do. Feeling guilty over a cookie does a lot more damage than the actual cookie EVER could.
“Feeling guilty over a cookie does a lot more damage than the actual cookie EVER could.” <- LOVE THIS!!! Preach on, sistah!! xoxo
Whew, yes. Consider your good deed for the day done by voicing what many of us feel. There’s simultaneously nothing I could add [because you did so well] and an endless lot [because this industry’s producing more and more sh*t by the day]. Just naming one example from the top of my head would be – currently re-reading old magazines – an issue of Women’s Health with ‘diet plans for every woman’. As in: ways to loose 2, 5 or 10 kg – because apparently ALL women need to loose at least a little. Don’t you dare be happy until you loose those last four vanity pounds society doesn’t like about you …
Omg, YES!! That is EXACTLY the thing that makes my head feel like it’s going to pop off my shoulders! And the way it’s shoved down our throats day in and day out…just when you think you’re getting a good sense of what’s right and acceptable for your own body they’re like, “aww, you thought you were gonna be happy, didn’t you…WRONG!!!” I understand that this society is goal-driven, but really, what the hell’s wrong with just living life sometimes…going with the flow and having FUN?
I love you for this post. Well, for other posts too obviously (hellooooo PB mug cake!), but right now, especially for this one. I feel you on this propaganda shit.. I go back and forth, though I keep trying for forth. I waver between being awesome with everything; workouts, my body (maybe not awesome, but at least pretty good), food.. and then sometimes find myself feeling guilty for not going to the gym after waking up at 5:30 and working on my feet for 6 hours (uhh yesterday..). Things to work past though, right? This is such a wonderful reminder that we’re all beautiful as we are.
Thank you SO much…my little PB mug cake pimp! 😉 We all have those days where we just can’t seem to be happy with our current state…when we’re tired or stressed or tired AND stressed. We just have to remember where those things lie in the long list of “shit that actually matters” and move on. Every day is a NEW day, right? 🙂
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Big fat fist-pumpin’ “Aaaaamen!” over here. The diet culture promoted by the media/industry is SO damn twisted. At the end of the day, most of what is being recommended is eating disorder behaviors in disguise. It’s wildly irresponsible of industry”professionals” to promote such practices, and heartbreaking to think how many people fall prey and truly believe that those practices are the path to health and leanness.
At this point, I’ve lost my patience for the fear-mongering, body-shaming, and disorder-glorifying. I say fuck it all, eat a damn cookie, and get on with life. You trackin’?!
“At the end of the day, most of what is being recommended is eating disorder behaviors in disguise.” <- Aaaaaamen right back atcha, girlie! I couldn't agree more and seriously, "Fuck it all and eat a damn cookie" is going to be my new motto in life! Love it!
I’m quite sure that the whole diet/health industry is out to get us… to make us feel bad about ourselves so that we continue to pump more money into the shit they’re trying to sell. And it’s working, unfortunately…
It really makes me sick and breaks my heart to see most of the messages that are being spread out there. There’s no such thing as body acceptance anymore, because obviously you can’t be happy with what you HAVE — you need to do BETTER! And the sad thing is that no matter how much better you do, there’s always an EVEN better to reach. Eff that. I’ll take a larger pant size if it means being able to ENJOY life.
“And the sad thing is that no matter how much better you do, there’s always an EVEN better to reach.” <- A-to the freaking-MEN!!! Omg, I can't help but sit here just nodding my head over and over while thinking how I felt when I was at my thinnest...I still felt like there were parts I needed to "work on". How messed up is that? What's the point of life if we don't allow ourselves to be happy with our here and now and actually LIVE?
LOVE this post! I’m going through the healing process of disordered eating and body image right now and it’s soo tough! Everything we see, whether we realize or not has an impact on how we see our bodies and it’s so so awful! Why should anyone every feel bad about themselves based on something someone else says to be ‘true’. Love it so much!
Exactly! And those people who push their ideas and rules on others have no idea how it affects the other person’s perspective. There is no way in hell that anyone can know the best way for you to live your life….because it’s YOUR life! Thank you so much for taking the time to comment, Fiona! Good luck in your healing journey. It does take time, but it’s SO worth it!
wanna know my thoughts? I hate rules. And rules are meant to be broken. Unless you have a food allergy. Bahaha. But seriously, you are beautiful as you are. So enjoy that pizza!
I love you woman! xoxo
Long time reader, first time commenter…but yes, yes, yes to everything that you said. I have struggled with compulsive eating for most of my life and have tried every diet out there and I am finally at a point where I am done. I feel like I will scream if I see one more person on Facebook pushing Herbalife shakes…because we were all meant to live on a liquid diet, right?! Still working to overcome the guilt that I feel when I eat carbs…or combine carbs and fat…or eat a sandwich instead of salad. Or fail to get up at 5:30 every morning to do Crossfit with all of my Paleo friends. Why do we put these insane expectations on ourselves?!
Hello, Leah! So happy to hear from you! Thank you so much for taking the time to leave your first comment! And seriously…I know exactly what you mean. Crazy how everyone seems to [think they] know better than everyone else when it comes to diet and whatnot. No one can ever know what’s right for your body but YOU…and there is a lot to be said about mental health as it relates to our diet. Good for you for taking a stand and choosing happiness over needless guilt. It takes time (believe me, I still have my moments), but you’ve definitely made the right choice! Good luck with finding more self-acceptance (and happiness) with each meal, workout, or dedicated lazy-ass day (because we deserve those too…without having to have a reason!) 🙂
Amazing post girl! And I love the way you ended it – it’s awesome that despite all this dieting propaganda, you’ve managed to rise above it and accept yourself.
How my body looks used to be the biggest focus of my life (thanks to ads like these), but now that seems so trivial to me. There is so much more to life!
Thank you so much, Chelsea! It’s taken me a LONG time to get to the point that I’m at now, but well worth it. I’m so glad you’ve risen above all the bullshit too! Forget the high five…booty BUMP!! 😉
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Epic post buddy. I think you’ve used your personal experiences to wisely omit yourself from this ridiculousness. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for others out there.
There is a time and place (and necessity) for rules. When it comes to diet VS living- no.
Thank you, Arman! And well said about rules having a place in life! I only wish I hadn’t learned the hard way on that.
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Amen. This is one of the first causes of disordered eating in our country. Thank you. I want to send about 100 high five emojis your way.
Right? And how sad is it that this is mainstream thinking? Breaks my heart to think of so many young girls being subjected to this…I mean, I got wrapped up in all of it and I’m in my TWENTIES! I only hope that one day America will (sorry I’m not sorry but…) wake the fuck up!
Dude, how the hell are they gonna use health food like a pear (real health food dammit; not protein powder and stevia) to make women feel bad. Shame on them. Good for you. I’m so glad you’re in a better place now. You deserve it, and I can see how much happier you are as a result.
By the way unless you put on thirty pounds since the last time I saw you, you do not have a muffin top. You might have pants that don’t fit, but you don’t have anywhere near baked goods going on.
Umm, not thirty, but pretty damn close. Let’s just say there’s something to be said about the phrase “fat and happy”…and I mean that as endearingly as possible because I’m not fat…I’m CURVY! haha!
Girl, I miss you so damn much it hurts! We should make a phone date soon! xoxo
Yes, I would love that.
And curvy is good! In fact, better than good. It’s sexy. It’s gives your partner a little something to hold onto, and who doesn’t like that?!
I love that RookieMag article! Ever since I first read it, I’ve been painfully aware of this situation every time it happens near me in my favorite coffee shop. I always want to chime in to tell people, “The cookies here are *so good*, I promise you! Buy one and eat it before I buy them all and you miss out!”
Ugh and that body-bashing-as-socialization thing is so frustrating. I think if we all made a conscious effort to stop parties might become bearable again.
Thank you, Sarah! And I agree! Whatever happened to the days where women got together and the biggest topic of conversation was recipe sharing? Somebody teach me how to make a Jello mold! 😉
Hmmm…. yup. You pretty much hit the nail on the head with that one. And yup… been there in that soda conundrum. What a mess!
Omg, thank you! I swear I thought I was the only one having a total meltdown over stuff like that!
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I’m catching up on my blog reading and am a little late to the party, but I had to say how much I appreciated this post. I especially loved your line, “I should do cardio and yoga and lift weights and save babies from burning buildings and feel guilty if I miss a workout”- because yes! This is how we are made to feel. If we’re not doing it all, and devoting all of our time to looking our very best/thinnest/whatever, then we should feel guilty about it. Which is, of course, utter bullshit. But it’s been jammed down our throats for so long that it’s hard to not think that way.
Thank you for this.
You’re welcome Tara! Thanks so much for taking the time to leave such a great comment! Glad to know others see this propaganda for what it is, like you said…utter bullshit!
Well said! We should not be ashamed of our “shape.” We are not cookies; we can’t be cut to fit a certain mold. I know I’ve felt guilty myself for skipping a workout or actually enjoying a scoop of ice cream, but this post is a healthy reminder that a healthy life is so much more than exercise or food.
“We are not cookies; we can’t be cut to fit a certain mold.” <- Ohhh, I like that! Thank you so much, Jess! I know it's hard to not fall victim to this ridiculous way of thinking, but we woman gotta stick together on this one! 🙂
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THANK YOU thank you thank you for writing this!! In the past 3 years, I’ve been on the same rollercoaster you described in this post–from 98lbs of anorexic, orthorexic, calorie-counting, over-exercising chaos to roughly 30lbs heavier, eats-too-much-sugar-but-still-some-vegetables, supposed exercise science student and fitness professional…and it’s TOUGH! To go from one extreme to the other is hard enough on it’s own, but the judgment that comes along with it can be devastating. So THANK YOU again for letting me relate, and reminding us all that it IS possible to be healthy, happy, fit, and loving life even if those size 2s or 4s don’t fit or the extra cookie (or two…) gets eaten. 🙂
Thank YOU for taking the time to leave such a wonderful comment, Emily! I couldn’t agree more with: “…but the judgment that comes along with it can be devastating” I can’t tell you how hard it was/still is at times when someone would question(s) my food choices. They have no idea what an impact a single statment can make on someone who is trying to recover! Glad to hear you’ve come so far in your recovery! Love your positivity! 🙂
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