I Love Food AND Exercise a Lot
but am I completely in control of my own image?
Welcome to 2023. My family welcomed the new year from Maui, and on top of enjoying the warm weather and great food - my kids and I took our first surf lesson! It felt so good to be out in the ocean again but my arms were definitely sore after 2 hours paddling against the waves on the board.
Back in Seattle, I started my elliptical workout yesterday morning with a fresh view of Lizzo in Concert on HBO. At some point over Christmas I mentioned to family how I’m heavier than I used to be - but I generally feel great. I take dance classes, biked up Hurricane Ridge this past summer, walk the dog, and enjoy a good hearty meals with my family (we had a large veggie plate followed by homemade lasagna last night). “Wow, you sound like you went to the Lizzo school of body positivity!” my husband remarked. As I watched Lizzo sing and dance with all her confidence, her backup dance crew working hard and looking good, I felt for a moment that things were reaching equilibrium with body image in our society.
Just hours later, I picked up a copy of Economist sitting in the mail pile. In the article “The Economics of Thinness”, a thin French woman opens with a story of coming to America and gaining weight. After a rude comment from her father, she got back on her normal bandwagon of dietary restrictions. “You know how much I love water.” The article also had multiple references to years of popular culture’s obsession with the thin female body and even more interestingly… the correlation of thinness with higher income.
I was also amused to hear of something new in the L.A. scene, that of a body type called “weasel bod”:
“These women strive to look streamlined and sleek, like a weasel, as though they could slip through water without disturbing it”
While I’d like to argue that “otter bod” would likely make more sense, it’s apparently already somewhat commonly in use for describing male body types.
So why am bring bringing up the economics of women and their thinness on this the 9th of January? Because so much of January is focused on health and wellness: recovering from holiday indulgences, refraining from alcohol, acting on resolutions to lose weight, work out more, etc. All good stuff on the surface. But the article on thinness and women highlighted another thought to ponder:
“It is impossible to move around the world as a woman and not notice the time, energy and investment women make in logging the food they eat, reading diet books and attending exercise classes”
I certainly invest time and energy in exercise. I eat healthy, but perhaps ingest those calories in proportions that make me full instead of micromanaging each bite.
As for my own image, I don’t make my living based on how I look like an actress or model. But after my surfing lesson, I’ve changed some priorities to working out more: to tone my arms, stay out in the ocean longer, and to generally become stronger to stand up tall and have fun out on the water. Not to please the male eye, or to make more money, or to fit in with other thin white women, but to just generally accomplish a goal that contributes toward my personal general happiness. Perhaps by sharing all this I’m just contributing to the general glut of image-consciousness, but hopefully it’s leaning more toward body positivity and self-acceptance.
Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
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Good message! Your positivity is encouraging.