Thursday, May 03, 2012

The False Choice of Mermaids or Whales

A friend of mine posted something she saw online somewhere onto her Facebook page and I thought it was interesting to comment on. I don't know who wrote it. Here it is first, before my thoughts about it:

A while back, at the entrance of a gym, there was a picture of a very thin and beautiful woman. The caption was "This summer, do you want to be a mermaid or a whale?"

The story goes, a woman (of clothing size unknown) answered the following way:

"Dear people, whales are always surrounded by friends (dolphins, seals, curious humans), they are sexually active and raise their children with great tenderness.
They entertain like crazy with dolphins and eat lots of prawns. They swim all day and travel to fantastic places like Patagonia, the Barents Sea or the coral reefs of Polynesia. They sing incredibly well and sometimes even are on cds. They are impressive and dearly loved animals, which everyone defend and admires.

Mermaids do not exist.

But if they existed, they would line up to see a psychologist because of a problem of split personality: woman or fish?
They would have no sex life and could not bear children.
Yes, they would be lovely, but lonely and sad.
And, who wants a girl that smells like fish by his side?

Without a doubt, I'd rather be a whale.

At a time when the media tells us that only thin is beautiful, I prefer to eat ice cream with my kids, to have dinner with my husband, to eat and drink and have fun with my friends.

We women, we gain weight because we accumulate so much wisdom and knowledge that there isn't enough space in our heads, and it spreads all over our bodies. We are not fat, we are greatly cultivated.

Every time I see my curves in the mirror, I tell myself: "How amazing am I ?! "

I know that my view might be considered controversial and I apologize in advance if people are "offended", but I think it needs to be said. This was obviously written to inspire women who are obese to feel comfortable about their weight. However, the choice offered is unrealistic because it really is comparing apples to oranges. How can you compare a real live animal (a whale) to a mythological creature that bears some human resemblance (a mermaid)? I know that the person who wrote that actually mentioned the fact that mermaids were not real, but it kind of defeats the whole purpose.

Here's the hard truth: the human body was never meant to be obese. The obesity is symptomatic of a society that promotes fast food, junk food, and laziness (the drive by window at fast food restaurants could only have been invented in America). Obesity is over-abundance. People are consuming more food than the body needs. In a world of growing scarcity (where increased population meets decreasing natural resources), one could argue that obesity is a sin. When there are millions of people who don't have enough food and face real starvation, we live in a land of abundance to the point where people waste food and over-consume what their body actually needs.

I will acknowledge that there are possible negative effects on the body due to growth hormones injected into the meat that we eat and that people don't intend to get obese. Once you put the weight on, it really is a big challenge to get rid of it. Losing weight takes a lot more energy than putting on weight.

On Craigslist personal ads, I see a lot of women's ads who use the term "BBW" (for "Big, Beautiful Woman"), and some are even claiming to work out in the gym to lose the weight (something they might consider doing BEFORE they put out an ad). Interestingly, some BBWs write in their ads, "if you're not into a bigger body, please move on..." Gladly, ma'am! Does anyone think obesity is physically attractive? Sure, there might be a great soul beneath that big body, but is it bad of people to not be naturally attracted to obesity? The extra weight people carry does affect the way they look, not just the body, but also the face. Look at pictures of Kathleen Turner as a young woman versus the way she looks now. Likewise for Kristi Alley. Then look at a picture of someone like Sophia Loren as a young woman and as she now looks. She's never lost her beauty. She shines!

There's a book called "French Women Don't Get Fat" and for anyone who has been to Europe, you don't see nearly as many obese people on the Continent than you do in North America. Why is that? The French eat a lot of cheese and buttered confections with their meals. The Italians eat pasta like its a national birthright (it is!). And yet, the number of obese people is a small portion of society (the bell curve, where the majority are within the weight standards). Some say that its a lifestyle difference. Europeans walk a lot more than Americans do. Every city in Europe has a pedestrian only shopping district. But also, they eat smaller portions of food. One of the biggest culture shocks I experienced when I returned to the U.S. after living 3 years in Italy as a young man in the early 1990s was how much food we're served in restaurants. In Europe, most places don't have a "doggie bag" (or box) to give you for the excess food. You're given an adequate amount to eat for a single meal. How much food does our bodies need, anyway? Each bite we take makes an impact on the overall environment and the amount of energy that goes into producing our food.

Ever notice in movie theaters that a "small" drink is actually more than 32 ounces? And you want the supersized large?!? That's a lot of sugary soda while you're sitting down watching a movie. For me, even the "small" drink is too much for me. And the concession stand cashier always tries to sell up, which is ridiculous. Getting a medium means I won't be able to sit through the entire movie without running to the bathroom. Who came up with this absurdity? Starbucks sizes their cups by "tall", "grande", and "venti". Is using the word "small" an insult or something?

What about seats on a bus? Many times, an obese person will sit next to me and I end up having a difficult time breathing. They take up so much space and even part of my seat! Is this right? Should buses (and airplanes) make larger seats to accommodate our growing girth as a nation?

In that ode to obesity that I posted, what I find most offensive and inaccurate about the statement is the following:

"We gain weight because we accumulate so much wisdom and knowledge that there isn't enough space in our heads, and it spreads all over our bodies. We are not fat, we are greatly cultivated."

That's such a crock of shit. What a freaking lie! No, you can't gain weight because you accumulate so much wisdom and knowledge. That is the realm of your brain, which we only use a small percentage of anyway. Wisdom and knowledge have ZERO CALORIES!! The reason you gain weight is because you EAT MORE THAN YOUR BODY NEEDS and you do not have a regular exercise regime to burn more calories than you take in. That's the truth. Anything else is a lie told by your ego to make you feel better about your weight. Obesity has nothing to do with being "cultivated." It has to do with not understanding one's own body and what the body needs or doesn't need. It's truly sad if there are people who use that unrealistic view of obesity to build up one's self esteem. Truth requires hard facts and data. It requires a complete lifestyle change and a change in one's diet. Shedding the weight is a lot more difficult than not allowing oneself to get obese in the first place. It's not easy, but its better to make a regular commitment to change than to believe lies.

So, don't choose to be either a whale or a mermaid. Be a human being who is kind to one's body and respectful of the impact our consumption habits have on the planet's eco-system. Eating smaller portions is not going to starve you to death. Just get you back in touch with the real you.

1 comment:

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

I wouldn't call obesity a sin, Sansego. That's also mixing apples with oranges. Religion really doesn't have much to do with obesity or thinness. I've been thin all my life, except for a year when I was in boarding school, went through my first winter, and gained 15 pounds. I hated it and promptly lost the weight. Obesity is due not only to fast foods, but to some weird psychological thing that there isn't enough. My take, anyway. Great post.