Friday, July 1, 2011

Day 98: Mirror vs. Scale, Part 1

A few dedicated readers pointed out that I have yet to report back on two promised items from The Knot's Bridal Beauty: Countdown to Gorgeous list. To recap, I started this challenge-within-a-challenge 2 months behind the list’s recommended timeline, and promised to complete ALL of the items in the “4-6 Months Before” category in 1 week to catch up. In doing so, I've tried yoga, enjoyed an evening or two without wedding planning, got “serious about skin care,” and even jumped ahead of schedule by having my eyebrows waxed by a pro. But ... I have yet to report back on either of the following two commandments from The Knot

Start paying attention to your nutrition. Bad food habits and too much caffeine mixed with wedding planning stress can transform a bride-to-be into Bridezilla. 

If you'd like to lose weight before your wedding, consult your doctor to develop a nutrition and fitness plan. Set a weight-loss goal and meet it before your dress fittings begin. Once fittings are underway, you'll need to maintain your weight. (Or reconsider losing weight. Obviously your guy thinks you look great just the way you are.) 
I'll be honest. I didn’t forget to write about these things - I’ve been avoiding writing about them.  Terms like "bad food" and "weight-loss goal" kind of spike my blood pressure, not just because I HATE the (evil, greedy, destructive) diet industry, but also because... I have really struggled with body image, and fat-(self)hatred for most of my adult life.

And so, my first instinct when I read this iffy advice from was: avoidance.  I wanted to hastily write a miniscule post, saying, "Yeah, well
 my guy thinks I look great just way I am. THE END ." And it would have been true. (Thanks Michael!)

But it wouldn't have been the whole story.  

So... in my next post, (Mirror vs. Scale, Part 2), I'll give you "the whole story." I wish I could sputter it all out for you right now, but it's been difficult to write and I'm still debating words. In the meantime, I'll leave you with the big question that I've been struggling with for... oh... about 10 years

If “fat is a feminist issue,” does wanting to lose weight make a person less of a feminist?
Apparently, THIS is what a feminist is supposed to look like...
(original image found here).
If you have thoughts on this question, please share them, today or in my next post. I think this is an important issue, one where the personal truly meets the political (a meeting that I'm still trying to reconcile). More soon! 

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  1. I suppose that the desire to lose weight could be seen as not feminist, but I have 5-10 pounds that like to come and go seasonally. I understand this and I will make small adjustments in my eating habits until I reach the desired weight simply because I feel best at that weight.

    I think the key is to find the weight you feel best at no matter what a doctor or a weight chart somewhere might tell you.

  2. Desiring a healthy and reasonable amount of weight loss should not be viewed as anti- feminist. That is just nonsense! The key is that it should be reasonable and health based, not nitpicky.

    The fact is the most Americans should probably have weight loss listed as #1 on their priorities. Think of the nunber of diseases and health complications we could avoid or even eliminate. The problem is that no matter how true that is or how loudly the health industry screams it, everyone is focused on the vanity of weight loss. How could they not be? Everywhere you look, you're assaulted with mean comments and judgements about every part of the body, especially women. Look at the cover of ANY magazine. Either they blatantly call out imperfections or they make women look ueber perfect and therefore incomparable to the average woman. It's so sad. The mixed message is extremely confusing and frustrating.

    None of this makes weight loss bad, wrong OR anti -feminist. Again, it should just be focused on improving health and within reasonable limits!

  3. Terri, I appreciate your insight, and for sharing your own experience. I'll write more about this in my next post, but a struggle for me has been the feeling that restricting food (i.e. dieting) is somehow giving in to sexist societal pressures to be thin... but does that make gaining weight somehow pro-feminist? That definitely doesn't feel right! I agree that body size needs to be an individual choice, though I've "chosen" to be waaaay too thin in the past, which I have to stay away from these days!

    Laila, Laila, Laila! So good to see you in comments! Thank you for pointing out how confusing and frustrating the media messages can be... vanity vs. health. Diet companies want us to believe that they are the same thing, but they should be kept separate, so people focus on what their individual bodies need. That said, I disagree with your suggestion that weight loss should be a "#1 priority" for most people in America. I think that weight loss itself isn't necessarily healthy - it's just a rough (and often poor) proxy for health status. People who are concerned about their health (and public health folks who worry about our nation's health) would do well to focus on behaviors, instead of body size! Weight loss can be done in ways that actually damage health (I.e., scary diet drugs, or crash dieting). Further, people can dramatically improve their health without losing any weight, and if this happens, they should be applauded for positive changes, not made to feel like failures if they haven't lost weight. (I don't think this is what you're promoting, by-the-way, just wanted to put in my 2-cents!)

  4. hey! agreed - the focus should be on improving health for the sake of health not size reduction but, lets face it, the natural side effect of those changes (eating more nutritious foods, getting regular exercise etc) would likely result in some weight loss for a fair amout of people. :) and i'm for sure not promoting any crazy diet. lemonade cleanse be gone!!

    you also make a good point about the feeling of failure when you put in a great effort to make positive and healthy choices but don't physically see a change or benefit. hopefully you feel better and more positive but if it isn't physically reflected we feel like losers. I have definitely felt this before and it is frustrating because my rational side is fighting pretty hard with the devil on my other shoulder to convince me that I'm doing well and to keep at it. It's exhausting!

  5. Fat is not a feminist issue. I know plenty of men who are concerned about their weight. Both my husband and one of my grad school friend were anorexic at one time or another. Oh, and my good friend's brother is not. It just isn't talked about as much. I am pretty sure though that guys feel just as much pressure to be skinny.

  6. It's the idea of wanting to be healthy and happy and has nothing to do with feminism. Get those negitive thoughts out of your head.

  7. Hey, sorry for this late response. I just found your blog and I've only read to June, but wanted to comment on this now. I know exactly what you're dealing with. I'm WAY older than you and still don't have it worked out. In part, I think I've spent most of my life "big" as a way of saying to the world: FU, I don't have to be thin to be a real woman. On the other hand, inside, it's always been a struggle and I DON'T actually feel good about myself. So, I've come to the conclusion (or, at least, come to this conclusion never quite sticks) that it's a lie for me to pretend to be happy and fat just to make a point. If I'm lying (which I kind of am), then what kind of a PERSON am I, feminist or not? There's that old saying: (is it old? I actually heard Dr. Phil say it. Yikes) you can be happy or you can be right. That pretty much sums it up for me.

  8. Just a thought from "foodie world"... standard plate size used to be 9" in diameter and is now 12" in diameter. Makes people eat more when they fill their plates, and are taught to always "clear their plate"