Balancing Weight Loss Perspectives: Vanity or Self-Acceptance
By Jeany Miller More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the Diary of a Fat Woman Blog Series
An Interesting Conversation
Last week, I had an interesting conversation with a friend about weight. She feels that, in a sense, weight loss is a display of vanity. Some people care about how they look, and to that end, they want to look good. So they embark on weight loss regimens that will help improve their appearances. Others are not as concerned with what they look like and are content to live in the overweight bodies they have. (In other words, this second group just doesn’t care.)
I agree to a certain degree, but I can't fully subscribe to this theory. For starters, weight loss is often a health measure rather than a point of vanity. Some people shed pounds to avoid future complications like heart disease and diabetes, not thinking much for how they look.
Also, I can refute my friend’s theory from a personal standpoint because I care very much about my appearance and always want to present my best self to others. But, as I’ve said so many times before, diet and exercise require commitment, and I just can’t devote myself to that kind of lifestyle. So many delicious foods exist in this world, and I want to enjoy them. Similarly, I have a million other things I would rather do than exercise.
Not that I'm pleased with the personal traits I just mentioned, but I'm learning to accept who I am instead of continuing this ongoing and pointless battle with myself. Loathing yourself for eating a doughnut to the point that you don’t even enjoy it is exhausting. I don’t want to continue in this same vein another moment.
A second friend, who is absolutely beautiful with long, chestnut-colored hair and big dark eyes, has steadily put on weight for the last 18 months. She has dieted on and off, even participating in weird programs that promise to “detox the body” and “eliminate toxins to remove bloat.” While on these regimens, which consisted of cucumbers and carrots for breakfast and nothing except water and yogurt the rest of the day, she was miserable. She seemed agitated, emotional, and angry.
In order to save herself from her own maddening actions, she’s made a pledge to stop the yo-yo dieting and just enjoy life. “I like food,” she told me. “If I want to eat, I’m going to eat. No more feeling guilty, and no more diets that make me feel worse than when I just stuff my face with what I want.” She is a full-figured, beautiful woman who dresses in the latest styles and looks flawless each time I see her. Really, she has nothing to worry about. Like me, I think this friend is ready to accept who she is and get on with her life.
Perhaps my first friend is right in the sense that trying to lose weight breeds vanity because you’re constantly aware of how you look and what clothing is most flattering to your body. When I was younger and much thinner, I didn’t have this constant awareness. So maybe, as my friend suggested, vanity is a component of the voluptuous woman. However, this isn't the kind of vanity in which you preen before the mirror and think, “Wow, I am one beautiful lady!” Instead, it’s the sort that makes you constantly strive for ways to feel better about yourself and how you look.
Before I sign off, I also must say that weight loss can be a journey of personal triumph, stretching your limits to see what you’re capable of and where you fall short. While I would love to embark on this journey, I just don’t think it’s for me, at least not right now. Instead, I’m going to try to find pleasure and success in other aspects of life. In the meantime, I’m going to focus less on my body and more on my emotional and spiritual health. I need to prove once and for all I am more than just a fat lady.