I’m 5’0″ and currently I weigh 154 lbs.
I’ve always carried more weight on my frame than the BMI calculations for my height would recommend. The only time in my life I was in the “green zone” on the BMI calculation was when I was in college, racing bicycles competitively and barely got down to 128 lbs from riding 20-25 hours a week and restricting calories. Oh, and I was bulimic. And severely depressed. But obviously I was healthy, because I was fitting into size 6 jeans for the first time in my life, right?
Today, I am the heaviest I’ve been, aside from my pregnancies. And I couldn’t be happier about my body. Because now it’s not about what I look like; it’s what I can do with what I got that I find fulfilling and puts me in awe on the regular. It’s taken decades of hating myself because I didn’t look like what others told me I should look like. It’s taken months of self-care, soul searching, and paying attention to myself. It’s taken getting my depression under control and accepting that I am a good and worthy person who deserves health and is healthy. It’s taken owning my choices, and making those choices based on what I believe to be good for me and what I want, and not what others or the media tells me what I should be doing. I’m rocking my own road and living my own life, just like what my blog byline says. I am not perfect, but I make progress, and I am happy to do so.
My only wish is that others can be happy and comfortable with their bodies, doing what they love and loving what they do.
Unfortunately, we live in a society that still struggles with the concept of “beauty at any size.” The “right,” socially-acceptable body structure is so closely tied with morality that we have a culture that supports, or at least turns a blind eye to, body-shaming. We look at people that are “too fat” or “too thin” (because that is totally an objective measurement, right?) and immediately judge them. It’s okay to leave a mean comment about what I think they look like. Clearly, they don’t realize how they’re being perceived. They must not care about themselves. How stupid/sick they must be, to not know what they need to do to look “normal”? Just put down the fork/eat a sandwich/stop lifting because you look too bulky. Because I am offended and concerned about how I perceive the way you look, and now I make it your problem.
I must confess, I am a former fat-shamer. I would see overweight people and think, “how could they not care about their health?” Because clearly that was the only logical conclusion. And of course, their health is totally my business (sarcasm level at an 11 right there). Never mind the decades of terrible diet advice the public has been fed. Or the fact I know nothing about this person or their life, how they might be working a full-time job and caring for an aging parent at home, or how a bad knee or lack of accessible physical activities that are varied and enjoyable might make fitness extremely difficult. What, you mean not everyone wants to slog it out on the elliptical 30 minutes a day, five days a week?!? Shoot me. (And if you love the elliptical, that is awesome and you keep doing you!)
And especially with females, body-shaming women just promotes the objectification of women. Because society dictates that as a woman, it’s my duty to look a certain way so I am attractive and pleasing to the eye. If I’m too fat, or too muscular, or too tall, or too thin, or not whatever is considered “right” to look today, it’s uncomfortable for others to look at me, and I’m not holding up my end of the bargain on being a woman. This type of thinking puts me in so much rage I’m just going to end this thought here with a big load of baloney. Because this is such baloney.
Finally, there’s the “health” argument. The argument that if you’re over- or underweight (especially overweight), then you are unhealthy, and that’s wrong because your lifestyle will cause others pain down the road as your body gives out and others have to take care of you, either financially or with caregiving. To which I have one comment:
MY HEALTH IS NONE OF YOUR G*DD*** BUSINESS. AND YOUR HEALTH IS NONE OF MY G*DD*** BUSINESS.
Bob Harper, most notably known from his work as a personal trainer on NBC’s The Biggest Loser, recently suffered a heart attack. He’s an extremely fit person, and he almost died from a heart attack that nobody, least of all him, saw coming. Meanwhile, a Dutch study came out that people that are considered “overweight” on the BMI scale actually live longer lives than “normal” weight people. I cannot possibly know a person’s health history from their pants size. Fit-looking people might have cancer, and overweight people could go on a 12-mile hike and hike circles around me. I don’t know, and what’s more, IT’S NONE OF MY G*DD*** BUSINESS ANYWAY. Neither is it yours.
A couple years ago, Noelle Tarr from Coconuts and Kettlebells wrote a post that broke the internet in the paleo/health-sphere when it was featured on the Whole9 blog, called “Why I Don’t Want Six-Pack Abs.” She received an alarming amount of criticism from this post, from people who argued that if you don’t have a six-pack, you must not be working hard enough, and if you don’t want to work hard for your physique then what are you doing? SMH. This just illustrates my point that our culture is way too looks-obsessed, totally ignoring the person underneath the abs. Obviously with the personal measurements I gave in my opening sentence, you can be assured that I do not have a six pack. I have no desire for the work it takes to get one. Because those are my priorities, and this is what makes me happy. If you prioritize the diet and training it takes for your abs and are happy with it, again, that’s awesome and you keep doing you! But it is so not me, and the work it would take would make me miserable. That doesn’t make me lazy or unworthy or weak. It makes me different. Which is totally okay.
We are all on our own journey. Sometimes that journey takes us to a health-focus, sometimes it doesn’t. That is no reason to shame or hate on others. You are not bad because you don’t do what I do or think how I think, and the same goes for me. Be kind to yourself. Then be kind to others. That is how the world is supposed to work, I think.
Go make it a great day.
Shoutout to Steph Gaudreau’s article on Stupid Easy Paleo “Mind Your Own Body: An Open Letter to Body Shamers” for inspiring me to finally get these thoughts out that I had been keeping silent for way too long. And if this content speaks to you, check out a free pass to Steph’s Women’s Strength Summit May 15-21!