A girlfriend of mine whom I went to school with posted her final project on Facebook earlier today, and I just need to share it with you. I think it’s an insightful, thought-provoking presentation on how detrimental the concept of the ideal body shape leads to anxiety and even eating disorders in young children as well as adults. The ideal image is something that I’ve struggled with, and it’s something I know many of my friends and family have also struggled with and found troubling.
I’ll share one additional story. A babywearing mom posted on a Facebook group last week that someone came up to her and accused her of having a “fat” baby because she was wearing her six-month old, who happens to be a chunky baby. (I saw the picture of the child and they were cute as a button and nowhere near obesity.) Obviously, this really upset the mother. The thing is, if our concept of the ideal body shape is that entrenched in our cultural mindset that we cannot see that chunky babies are healthy according to medical standards, what are we going to think when we see active young children put on a few pounds just before their growth spurt? Or adolescents when they’re dealing with hormonal (let alone social) changes? Or those who have severe medical issues that require them to take medications that cause weight gain?
The point: you don’t know why someone has put on weight, or why someone loses a lot of weight. The body is the vessel, the covering of the soul. Yes, we should take care of it to the best of our abilities, but judging someone based on what shape they naturally take–big or small, curvy or straight, tall or petite, muscular or not–doesn’t allow you to see who they really are. Shape doesn’t give us insight as to what’s really going on inside. Shape doesn’t display an individual’s character, intelligence, drive, or wit. Shape is merely shape and I find it sad that we have such a hard time looking past the surface appearance toward the shining human being standing before us.
Magazines are not good standards. TV and Hollywood actors are not good standards. A lot of these people have genetic predispositions, trainers, doctors, dieticians, and money that buys them most of what they want, including–sadly–drugs and alcohol; and yet, many of them still have eating disorders.
Good standards are a healthy whole foods diet, regular exercise, daily activities around the house or out and about, happy and wholesome relationships devoid of malice, jealousy and fear, enjoyment of solitude as well as society, and laughter. Lots and lots of laughter. Laughter is the best medicine, after all 🙂