I thought I was pretty original with this one, but apparently some scientists thought they were clever too…so I guess I have to be specific in my title. I’m sure you’re all familiar with the story of Goldilocks, right? Goldilocks and the three bears, three of everything, one was always too cold/little, one was too hot/big, and one was just right? Yeah…today, think of us – the American People, as Goldilocks. Forewarning – this is, to some degree, going to piggyback off of America The Fat, so having read that might help you understand where I’m coming from with some of this.
The problem we face in our society and our culture today is – we can’t find “just right” like Goldilocks did.
That’s not necessarily all our fault either…we aren’t generally encouraged to find “just right”. Instead, we’re told to pursue “too small” or “too big”.
Look at the media, at TV, at movies, at society in general…everything we see either encourages us to be (what I consider) too skinny or tells us that being fat is OK. The examples of “fat being OK” are glaringly obvious and easy to see (my opinion) as its thrown in our faces to make those who are fat feel better, but the “too skinny” message is a little more subliminal than that, so let’s tackle that first.
What is too skinny?
I assume its easy to understand what “too big” means, and I’m sure many of you can visualize it…but what about “too skinny”? What, exactly, constitutes “too skinny”? “Too skinny” is a stick figure. “Too skinny” has no muscle definition and looks like you’d blow away in a strong breeze. When I think “too skinny”, I think of people doing whatever they can to lose weight, be “thin”, and look as tiny as they can. Guess what weighs a lot? Muscle. The “diets” many people do in order to lose weight and achieve “too skinny” don’t just make you burn fat, they also force your body to break down muscle as well. That’s not healthy! If your body is at a point where it has to break down muscle, it means it is malnourished and not getting enough nutrients and fuel! Here’s my prime example:
Giuliana Rancic. Those of you who watch E!, any kind of gossip news, the TV Guide channel or any kind of red carpet anything have seen this woman. So what’s my issue with Giuliana?
|Img Credit – Fame
Well, for one, she’s a perfect example of the kind of body being shown by Hollywood to women as ideal, and let’s be honest – what we see on TV, especially those sorts of programs, is meant to be our model for ourselves. We’re taught to idolize the famous, envy the rich and powerful, and do what we can to be more like them. That said, look at some of the celebrities we’re either told or supposed to imply are the standard of “attractive” that we should be – Giuliana being one (who, by the way, started her own “fitness” website to “help” others get in the “perfect shape”…). Keira Knightley is another one – Pirates of the Caribbean anyone? It’s tough to find if you go out searching for it, but its there and its sneaky. I had to think about it for a minute, but then I looked at some pictures of Megan Fox from Transformers, and I can’t decide without watching the movie again, but from pictures I can see online, she definitely rides the line. What was the big reaction to her in that movie though? Sexy. The problem with things like that is, while she may not actually be “too skinny”, women, especially teenage girls and women in their early 20’s, want to be that skinny, so they become “too skinny” as a result.
I will say – while this IS still a problem, its becoming less of a problem as we begin to demonize certain celebrities and their behaviors – certain celebrities who, in addition to drug problems and bad behavior, happen to also be too skinny, so that becomes bad too. As long as there are celebrities like Giuliana who are being praised, and movies showing near-toothpicks like Megan Fox in Transformers, it will still be an issue…and frankly I don’t foresee Hollywood casting directors changing that anytime soon.
How About “Too Big”?
I want to be clear here – when I say “too big”, I’m not talking about people who are riding the line and are somewhere close to being “just right”…I’m talking about people who are clearly “too big”. Visibly overweight. When you get winded going up a flight of stairs, you might be “too big”. When you can’t see your toes over your belly you might be “too big”. When you regularly put down over half a pizza by yourself in one sitting you might be “too big”. The worst part of “too big” is that this country is making it OK. Let me give some examples:
Some of you may be familiar with this popular recording artist – Adele. She’s a well-known big girl and I’ve actually read a quote from her saying she’s not concerned about weight and being skinny – she never plans to lose weight. She basically said she could be a house but as long as she’s making quality albums she’s ok with that. That is the wrong message to send. But that’s not really what I’m talking about: Adele’s attitude, I feel, just implies that being overweight isn’t something to worry about. What I’m talking about is much worse than that. What I’m talking about is a culture that makes it acceptable to be overweight. Teaches us that everyone is beautiful and to love your body.
|Img credit – Fanpop
Let’s get this straight – I thought Pitch Perfect was hilarious. That said, now that I think about it, I have a BIG problem with the “Fat Amy” character. Basically, Fat Amy is teaching people that it’s OK to be fat, that skinny girls (or “twig bitches”) are mean and not to be admired, and that you should love yourself and your body regardless of your size. The movie uses her size for many jokes (both physical comedy and verbal jokes) which, of course, I would expect in a comedy. However, when you couple those jokes with the message the character is sending, you kind of glorify being big like that. They’re portraying her as a strong character because she’s overcoming adversity and being happy with herself. I can’t agree with that. We shouldn’t be teaching people that maintaining an unhealthy body fat percentage is ok. It creates health problems! High body fat percentage puts stress on your body in so many ways, it puts you at risk for heart disease, diabetes and more…why are we telling people that’s OK?
I’m gonna get up on my soapbox for a minute – this is going to be a long paragraph.
Your doctor should be telling you what a healthy range is and helping you figure out a plan to get healthy. Your doctor should also be describing all the health risks associated with being overweight. One of my faithful readers and members of the “So Fit” Family messaged me a link a short while ago and I have to tell you it got me so fired up I wanted to pop. There are, apparently, doctors out there who are telling people that it’s OK to be fat, that aren’t making an issue of it, that aren’t weighing you when you come in for a visit and tell you not to worry about losing weight. I don’t even know where to begin with this.
First off, a clarification – not all of the doctors on this list are internal medicine – there is a wide variety. There are internal medicine, family medicine, naturopathic, OB/GYN, midwifery, psychologists, therapists, gastroenterologists, etc etc. What bothers me is that these are doctors making it OK. If nobody else in the universe tells you the health risks of being overweight and urges you to “get healthy”, your doctor should. Frankly I think it’s irresponsible and a violation of the Hippocratic Oath to tell people it’s OK and to tell them they don’t need to worry about their weight or think about losing any. When someone walks in your office door and is 400 LBS…you offer them help, not a mozzarella stick (there is no tall person alive tall enough for 400 lbs to be healthy…please correct me if I’m wrong). Now, don’t bite my head off here – I understand that many people don’t go to the doctor because they’re embarrassed about their weight and don’t want to weigh in, yes I do believe these people should be able to see a doctor without having to be ashamed…but if you feel ashamed because your doctor is telling you about the health risks you’re currently facing…shouldn’t that be a hint that you’re not happy and it’s time to do something about it? If the doctor is being a jerk about it and is intentionally making you feel ashamed about it, that’s another thing entirely and I don’t condone that, but what we have out there is the exact opposite – doctors making you feel good about being overweight! That’s something that needs to stop. Another part that gets me fired up is: some of those doctors out there who are psychologists or therapists are basically preying on those who are overweight. These doctors get the overweight to come in under the auspices of caring about them and not making their weight an issue. That’s deceptive and dirty. Ok…off my soapbox…
Add on to all of those things we just talked about the general culture of “love your body” “it’s OK to be big” and “be happy” that these promote and what you have is a nation of overweight people who are empowered to pick up that chicken wing and chow down because y’know what…I’m OK with this and it’s OK to be big! Add in “The I Don’t Feel Like It Syndrome” and you have a recipie for disaster.
Y’know…let me tell you…I was Mr. I’m-Big-I’m-Not-Ashamed for a while but y’know what…when I stopped fooling myself and lying to myself…I admitted that I really wasnt’ happy. That’s when My Story and My Transformation began. Don’t forget…I was a pretty big guy…so on a lot of this, I’m speaking from experience. I may have seemed happy or tried to be happy, but I really wasn’t. It was the biggest thing dragging me down in my life.
So What Is “Just Right”?
Do we really know what “just right” is? We’re pulled in two directions so much that many people don’t actually find the way to “just right” or the tools to figure out what exactly that is. Where’s the happy medium between “too big” and “too skinny”? Well, many would say to follow a “body mass index” (BMI) chart…but I’m not sure I agree with that. BMI charts follow age and height to find what your ideal weight range is. The government website where I found a BMI chart DID make a point to say that it is inaccurate for those with an athletic or muscular build, or for those who are older or who have lost muscle weight. Not everyone who is 24 and 5’8″ should weight the same…some are lean builds and some are athletic. So BMI Chart is out. My vote is to use the Jackson & Pollock chart.
These charts, I think, hit the nail on the head. They go by age and gender, and there is a range! Lean, Ideal, Average, and Above Average. I’m gonna go ahead and say that, since this IS “America The Fat” that “average” is probably “slightly overweight” and “above average” is probably “too big”. I’m not sure where I fall right now because I can’t for the life of me figure out how much pressure to use when I use my body-fat measuring calipers. I’ll go more in-depth on this in a later article, but the basics here are: women have higher acceptable body fat %’s than men because they have more need of it in their bodies. These charts use age because as you get older, you naturally have / need more fat in your body. Like I said, this is a really REALLY basic explanation but the gist here is, I think this is the chart to follow. Ask your doctor to help you figure out your body fat percentage and go from there. This is also good for those building muscle as it allows you to account for muscle in your body – notice this chart doesn’t use weight as a measurement! Imagine that…weight itself isn’t everything. I feel like I’ve heard that somewhere before…
“Just Right” is different for everyone. Some of you might want to fall into the “ideal” category, some of you might want to be a little more in the “lean” category. Just make sure if you’re gonna go down the “lean” road you have some muscle in there…don’t go down the “lean” road in such a way that you become “too skinny”. I don’t want to sound like I’m putting down the “love yourself” idea, but you should be able to love yourself and be healthy too! It’s all well and good that people want others to be happy, but there’s nothing wrong with being fit and healthy as a means to be happy . All too often the “fit” people are demonized as the jerks, the evil ones, the people putting me down for being fat. The sad truth is, there are “fit” people out there who DO actually do that. So my advice to you is – Offer help, not hate. Part of why this whole “love yourself, fat is OK” thing is out there is because of “the jerks at the gym”. Let’s try to turn that image around, ok? Otherwise Goldilocks is never going to find “just right” and we’ll end up like the humans in Wall-E. Nobody wants that.