An article about the American obsession with celebrity and weight showed up in last Sunday’s New York Times. One phrase seemed strikingly poignant:
…Americans equate body size with Puritan values...
Let’s put it into context.
Speaking to the yo-yo weight of celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and Kirstie Alley, Charlotte Biltekoff, an assistant professor and researcher of food and values at UC Davis, was quoted saying, ” Americans equate body size to Puritan values. Thin means self discipline and hard work; fat implies laziness, gluttony and lack of willpower. A dieter signals publicity that she/he is “in the process of self-denial, recovery, and reform.
Dr. Rebecca Puhl, an expert on weight stigma at Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity is quoted as saying, ” People who internalize these stereotypes are more likely to engage in binge eating and other unhealthy behaviors that lead to weight gain.”
The solution? Just be healthy. Embrace your shape. Make peace with who you are today, not dreaming of who you will be in a month. Look, I know. It’s a friggin’ tall order.
Relinquishing the cultural norms takes some strength.
Take Beth Ditto
Rock and Roll Singer and Indie Fashionista extrordinaire, Beth seems to be known more for her body size than her music, liberating masses of women through her self confidence in her shape and sexuality.
It is awesome Beth is out there, making creative and social waves, but, realize, she is morbidly obese. Truth. It’s the same as recognizing many of our young celebs are anorexic.
Our cultural expectations anticipate celebrities and public figures to be thin, and yet 1 in 50 Americans are morbidly obese. In between these two ends of the spectrum is you, me, and everyone else. Wherever you land in the spectrum, recognize the desire to be beautiful, physically and mentally, can not be fulfilled from the outside looking in, although we are programmed to believe so via media, culture, yadayada. Beauty is there in every body type, you just have to embrace it. The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) offers great information not only on eating disorders, but on ways to promote within yourself a healthy body image. This information is useful to everyone.
This is a call to everyone; big, small, man, or woman, celebrity, or not….Own your own shape and uniqueness from every angle, inside and out. Create your own style. Make a statement. Most of us will never be Twiggy, but there is much more glamour and seduction in a well placed curve. Once you own your body, promise to take care of it. Eat healthy when you can, find movement you enjoy, and laugh. Strive to create a sound mind and body for you. The word weight will begin to lose its stigma.