Today a “friend” of mine told me that I would feel like a million bucks and that everything in my life would just fall into place and if I was to lose more weight.
This sounds like a very personal opening statement for a “political” blog, you might say.
But it’s not personal – the focus on obesity and weight loss in society and the focus that the government has been placing on the issue has really brought it out into the open where people (even friends) think it’s somehow OK to tell you that weight loss is the secret to happiness and if you’re not slim or athletic, you can’t possibly be happy.
I believe the personal is political so let me tackle a bit of both here in this posting.
I was a ballet, jazz and modern dancer from the age of 5-20. I was always a very fit child and teenager, excelling at swimming and basketball and an all-round capable sportsperson. I guess I would’ve been described in that era as a “tom boy” in that I knew how to kick a footy and bowl over-arm.
When I was 20 I injured my ankle in a soccer match which incapacitated me for a couple of years. I lost all of my balance which, for a dancer of 15 years, was a devastating thing to happen. Absolutely gutting to be honest.
This meant I focused my attention on more academic and business pursuits. I studied, worked hard, discovered the Internet and networked with people from all walks of life. I focused less attention on my body and more on my brain. I became a workaholic.
This meant I eventually found myself in a position where I was quite overweight, simply from spending too much time working and not enough time playing.
When I was in Grade 3 I went on a diet and lost 2kg. My teacher at the time noticed and said “You look great!”
Unfortunately, I have suffered a body image problem since about that age.
When someone who has body image problem actually finds themselves overweight, it no longer becomes a problem of their own, it becomes a problem for everyone else. People around you fret and worry and judge and help and support and talk.
It’s no longer psychological, it’s real. And people notice you and assume you are depressed or “comfort eating” when it’s just that you’ve been really busy doing other things and juggling different priorities.
And then it becomes such an issue for other people who refuse to accept you for who you are that you genuinely DO get depressed! And because you’re overweight you start blaming every failure you encounter on the fact that you are overweight. And then unrealistic media images of women bombard you at every corner.
And now the government is having their 2 cents using that word ‘obesity’ and talking about ‘health’ and ‘childhood’ obesity as though it’s something they can solve by educating children, parents and schools.
Obesity is an ugly, clinical word and those who have NEVER struggled with it will NEVER know how awful it is to hear it being bandied around like some “issue” that can be dealt with in isolation.
From my own personal experience of being a child and an adult with body image problems, I dread the future of today’s child who is being called “obese”.
For someone like me who is confident with their appearance and considered “attractive” by society’s standards (because my face has youth and symmetry) and because I am now voluptuous rather than obese, it concerns me that other adults are going to be labeled “obese” and not be able to cope with the label.
The reason I have recently lost weight; the reason I’ve found my way back to a place that’s healthy is because, over the last 3 years, I have reassessed my priorities and changed my lifestyle accordingly.
And although it affects my personal relationships, it’s a political decision that I made.
To tred lightly on the earth is to eat more organic food, less processed food, less food from multi-national fast food chains and to do things like cycle to work and create a work/life balance.
And by work/life balance I don’t mean “happiness”. Western society is obsessed with striving for “happiness”. The famous cliche ‘life wasn’t meant to be easy’ highlights that we’re not meant to be living each day “happy”.
No-one has found the secret, but giving back to the community has helped me become happier or “sleep better at night” as I often like to put it. I’m not happy all the time. I’d rather tears running down my face watching footage of another child killed in war than giggling at some goose on Big Brother. Interestingly, I’d much rather Big Brother was on ALL the channels and that war didn’t exist at all, but it does and – sure – it makes me sad and sometimes helpless to watch and learn and “know” but I’d rather not ignore it. I feel better at least TRYING to make it better for another less fortunate. I prefer to feel empathy with those that are needlessly suffering in the world and strive to change the world – however futile that sometimes seems.
My personal struggles are not caused by me not accepting my childbearing hips! My personal struggles are that there are not enough hours in the day to educate western society (and men in particular) that it’s OK to have childbearing hips!
I’d rather spend my free time educating western society that it’s NOT OK to have Australians living in third world conditions; that it’s NOT OK for men, women and children to be killed in wars and locked up in Australian cages when they try to flee; and that it’s NOT OK to have other creatures of this earth struggling for survival and competing for resources that humans so carelessly consume.
I’m part of a Greens global movement that denounces materialism for materialism’s sake. Let us spend more time with our friends and families playing and mucking around rather than the rush rush rush to work work work and buy buy buy. You’ll even have time left over to give back to the community in which you live. You’ll even have money left over to donate to local and international charities.
The starving Africans will thank you. Why? Because they’ve never heard of obesity.