Monday, April 30, 2012

Bathing suits, weight, healthiness

Yesterday I went bathing suit shopping.  In general, I would rather eat glass than shop for clothes, and this is especially true when it comes to purchasing swimwear.

I admit that when I looked in the mirror, I was not too happy with what I saw.  Despite working out, there are some things....3 pregnancies and age....that are really hard to overcome unless you are willing and able to work out every single day with great consistency for at least an hour and give up a lot of things you love in the food department.  So I left the stall with two separates in hand feeling somewhat defeated.

I shopped a little more, with the intent of finding a new blouse, and looked at my fellow shoppers.  I managed to turn my psyche to my general thinking in life, a spin on "Is it better than what I have now?, which is, "Is my (weight, intelligence, hairstyle, insert whatever here) better than those of the people I see around me or the public at large?"

And I would be a liar if I said my weight/body didn't look better than most of my Kohl's shopping cohorts.

I realize that if I stood in a swimsuit next to a model (especially one who wasn't 38 and hadn't birthed 3 children) I would look crappy.  But next to average Jane who is the same age and has 3 children, I look pretty awesome, in my opinion (at least in my neck of the US woods, which has serious obesity/sedentary problems).

This thought didn't make me feel smug;  rather I felt a little sad.  It made me wonder whether I am prejudiced against overweight people.  Swistle's post, which I read last night, made me wonder even more.

I don't think that overweight people are any less smart, capable, well-read, nice, decent than anyone else.  But I admit I do tend to judge heavier people about their lifestyle choices...the food they eat, how much and often, and how frequently they exercise.  I know that body types are fixed and beyond our control, certainly.  I am taller and thinner than most women, which has much to do with my paternal grandmother and great-grandmother being tall and rail-thin.  I know that people can be heavier and strong/muscular/athletic.  Skinny is no good either; there is nothing appealing about skin & bones, a'la Leann Rimes.  I want to be fit.

(Lest anyone surmise I only judge heavier people, I should note that I judge anybody who purchases nothing but junk at the grocery.  It simply baffles me how anyone can eat that much processed stuff.  I also judge people who smoke....cause that shit is just dumb.)

One of the questions I asked myself is whether I am prejudiced if I think to myself, "I don't want to become fat."  Because whenever I feel particularly not in the mood to work out, I need only to see someone overweight to give me the motivation to keep at it.

Because I had gestational diabetes during my first pregnancy and my A1C levels put me at high risk for diabetes until I began working out for 2 1-hour sessions a week, another big motivator is keeping my insides healthy.  I do not want diabetes if there is anything at all I can do to keep it at bay.

To be honest, I know I mention the unhealthiness of being overweight to my children.  I know I say things like, "We need to eat our healthy food first before we have treats."  I know I say things like, "If you overeat treats and don't exercise enough you may become overweight."  I don't want my kids to think being overweight makes someone a bad person, but it is certainly not optimal.  I don't think I've ever heard anyone say, "I am so thankful that I am overweight."  In all honesty, I haven't thought a whole lot about how my children, especially N, think of what I say in this regard.  Maybe that is one of the luxuries of innate thinness.

Every woman has body issues; I would living in la-la-land if I thought N would be exempt from this.  When I was younger I wanted larger breasts.  Now I would like perkier breasts, less of a abdominal pooch, and for my thighs not to touch.  But I'm not going to starve myself to be that way, nor am I going to exercise constantly and forego the more important things, like taking care of my house and kids and enjoying life.

I have to remind myself that celebrities, who have trainers and chefs, and who work out often also have body issues.  They are real people who just happen to be airbrushed and Photoshopped to make the rest of us feel like our bodies are "less than."  How many times have I looked at the photos of Scarlet Johannsson in a bikini to make myself feel better about my back quarters.

So at this point, I'm still muddling through these feelings.  I don't have an answer for myself yet as to whether I'm doing N a disservice by feeling as I do and saying what I say.


Giselle said...

I wonder where your body image thoughts stem from. I know I grew up with a skinny, health food grandmother and a pudgy, dessert and wine loving grandmother. The pudgy one was so much happier and more loveable. The other was cranky and unapproachable. Which probably had nothing to do with either of their weights, but it left an impression on me.

I remember growing up in a house with healthy food EVERYWHERE...and I was skinny as a rail and my sister was chunky. Obviously food decisions was not a factor there...just genetics.

I think those are a few of many reasons why weight doesn't bother me so much. I want to be healthier, I want to fit in my clothes better...but it's not nearly as important as enjoying life. And I would rather have a roll over my waist band than give up cake for the rest of my life. :)

Kelsey said...

This is really interesting - and Giselle's comment is interesting as well. I do struggle with my weight though I try not to make it an issue my kids notice... And we do try to eat mostly healthy foods. There were periods in my life where I think I was on the verge of falling down the eating disorder rabbit hole, so I get anxious/cautious about how I discuss eating with my kids, especially my daughter.

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