A few days ago I saw this ad on the TV. I was actually reading at the time so had to rewind the television to make sure I’d heard it correctly.
Sadly, I had. There is an actual TV commercial running which implies that your relationship with your children depends on whether or not you can lose weight and keep it off. Seriously? I have no words.
Well, obviously I have lots of words. Which is fortunate as otherwise this would be my shortest post yet.
I’d like to set your mind back almost a year and ask you to revisit the point of my Mummy Kindness Manifesto:
“I will not be defined by the number on a scale. It is not my worth”.
Talk about easier said than done.
Everywhere we look we’re bombarded with messages. All of which promise happiness, success and belonging (and in this case, your only hope of bonding with your children) if we only buy this….Wear that…Smell like this….Eat that… don’t eat that. Look like her…. Don’t look like her. It’s endless and it’s everywhere.
Image, it seems, is everything. It’s our only hope. We can’t possibly amount to anything in life if we don’t drop a dress size or four. There is no fate worse than fat.
The truth is, being comfortable in our own skins is bad for business.
It’s no wonder that the same companies who manufacture cakes and desserts also want us to subscribe to their diet programs. They want us to spend money getting fat so that we can spend more to get thin.
And of course, they don’t want us to stay thin. No. The most profitable customers are those of us with a history of yo-yo dieting. The more weight we lose, the more we can re-gain. More revenue for the slimming clubs, protein powder suppliers and personal diet chefs.
I spent twelve years selling advertising for best-selling magazines and newspapers. It’s no secret that January issues are filled with diet advice and pictures of miraculous celebrity weight-loss stories. The reason for this is the fact that it’s the busiest time of year for diet focused advertising. So the publishers feed (pun intended) our insecurities to create an environment perfect for advertisers to slot in to. They make sure that the antidote to the dose of self-doubt we’ve been served is readily available for purchase from their sponsors. It’s a commercial practise and it’s at the expense of our self-esteem and confidence.
To give you some background info on me, I’m 5ft 4 tall and currently a UK size 14 (that’s a size ten for my US readers). I’ve seen dramatic fluctuations in my weight over the past two years. I lost a great deal of weight following a strict protein-only diet before gradually regaining it, and then some. Anti-depressants and tendency to numb feelings with chocolate hasn’t helped. Not one bit.
I’m not an exceptionally large woman by most people’s standards (fashion magazines and celebrities notwithstanding). I’m smaller than the UK national average. I’m well aware, however, that I’ve gained weight recently.
When it comes to dieting I’ve tried most of them over the years. I lost a couple of stone on WeightWatchers before my wedding. I gained half back and then fell pregnant. I lost the baby weight then had another baby. I quickly lost weight again with the Dukan Diet. I’ve thrown out bigger sized clothes and bought smaller ones and I’ve grown out of them again. Three times I’ve lost around two stone pretty quickly and gained it back again.
I’m an all-or-nothing person when it comes to dieting. I’m generally either incredibly strict and at the gym every day or completely off-the-wagon. There’s not really a middle ground for me.
I’ve spent at least twenty years obsessing over my weight and appearance. Whether consciously or subconsciously I compare myself with everyone, all the time and rarely, if ever, feel like I match-up. I know some very stunning women and many of them are “bigger” girls. I know lots would be thrilled to be the same size as I am. I look at their beautiful faces and wish I was prettier. I can find something or someone better than me with almost any comparison. So I guess the trick is to simply stop comparing.
Can you imagine how different life would be if you were comfortable in your own skin? If you didn’t feel inadequate next to other woman who you perceive to be better than you in some way or another?
It’s a widespread belief that getting fat is the most detrimental factor to anyone’s health. We hear it so often that we don’t question the logic. But it’s just not as straightforward as that; body size is not an accurate indicator of someone’s health.
We all know the skinny person who eats nothing but junk and who rarely moves from the sofa. They are at a far higher risk of health problems than a heavy person who eats healthily and exercises regularly. I’m only scratching the surface of this topic and plan to post more in future weeks, but you can find much more info via this fantastic blog.
It’s my belief that if we’re truly happy with ourselves and our choices we will cease to care so much about other people’s opinions.
Because, truly, when we stop to think about it, isn’t the approval of others a huge factor when we try to get thinner?
The media and society tells us we have to be thin to be beautiful and it’s become so ingrained in our thinking that we can’t imagine feeling differently.
Now, I’m not saying that we should all ditch our new year diets and go on a huge cake binge. However, I do think we need to question why it is that we feel our lives will be transformed if we shrink a bit. Why do we need to be thinner to feel better about ourselves?
Our bodies are precious. They’re beautiful. The wobbly bits, the stretch marks and the scars? They’re beautiful too. Our bodies are entitled to be nurtured and loved.
Healthy food and exercise is good for the body, mind and spirit. It’s important to look after yourself, not because a magazine says you need to resemble a supermodel or teenage popstar, but because you deserve your own loving care.
You have nothing to prove, because you’re already good enough. Honestly.
We need to have faith in our own beauty because our children are watching and listening. Even when we don’t realise it, they’re learning from us.
They need to know that they’re worthy of love and acceptance whatever their appearance and that food is to be enjoyed and not feared.
I want my children to see the beauty in people of all shapes, sizes and colours. Not just those who fit an aesthetically perfect stereotype.
The only way I can think of to teach them is to lead by example. To look after my body with my health and well being as a priority and not just a target weight or dress-size in mind. This, if anything, is my resolution for 2014.
Happy New Year, you beautiful thing, you.