I learned from yesterday's post at Bran Appetit that this week is End Fat Talk Week. The week is sponsored by ΔΔΔ Women's Fraternity as part of the Reflections Body Image Program (wow, that's a lot of links).
The End Fat Talk video is kind of cheesy, but it does have a good essential message: "Friends don't let friends fat talk." It always rubs me the wrong way when women (or men) complain about their bodies, as I expressed in my People First Language post about how even well-meaning bloggers can support damaging ways of thinking. It probably irks me so much because I used to do it 24/7.
I'm trying to figure out when the widespread phenomenon of body-hatred started. It isn't exactly recent, that's for sure. In Victorian times, women with "small appetites" were regarded as virtuous, and wasting away was bizarrely romantic (examples: Fantine from Les Miserables, Mimi from La boheme, Helen Burns from Jane Eyre etc.) But its modern incarnation is difficult to trace. Silent screen starlets were well-fed, but the ideal grew steadily smaller thanks to the glamourization of the likes of Audrey Hepburn, whose tiny figure was the product of a malnourished childhood in Nazi-occupied Holland.
It's well and good to wish to keep your weight within a healthy range, but blind pursuit of thinness is dangerous, and I'm not just talking about the danger to mental stability. Underweight populations have higher mortality rates than normal or even overweight groups (Science Daily). Having an unnaturally low body weight puts you at risk for anemia, heart irregularities and osteoporosis, and leaves you especially vulnerable to infection (WD).
The thinnest person I know is my boyfriend's father. According to the Wii Fit, he has a BMI of about 17. Every time we visit, I'm afraid we'll wake up one morning to find he had died in his sleep. This past weekend I kept an eye on how he fed himself, because a 5'8" man should be eating at least 1600 calories a day, and that's just to support his current 115 pound frame. On Saturday, he woke up after noon and picked at half a tiny prepackaged turkey meal, the rest of which he abandoned on the kitchen counter. He didn't eat again until 7, when he attended the American Legion hog roast and probably ate 6 ounces of meat with a scoop of potato salad (his usual for barbecues). After we went to bed, he watched car races while downing some Coors Lights and cans of Coke with a couple of Pringles.
In essence, the man acquires half of his daily calories through alcohol and soda, and 90% of what he puts in his mouth is rolled-up paper (he's moved to Menthols now, which means he'll probably never quit). He would lose a couple of pounds a week if it weren't for the chips and fatty frozen meals. So while he's the thinnest person I know, he's also the least healthy. His example is extreme, but begs the question: do you really want to be like him?
If you want to lose weight, I recommend burning your copy of Skinny Bitch, cancelling your subscription to fashion magazines, and heading to your library for French Women Don't Get Fat, French Toast for Breakfast, or Eating the Moment. Then lace up your walking shoes, replace restaurants with homemade meals and contribute the resulting money saved to the trip-I've-always-wanted-to-take fund. Voila.