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[Diary of a Fat Woman] Is Losing Weight Conforming? — an article on the Smart Living Network
November 14, 2012 at 9:18 AMComments: 2 Faves: 0

Is Losing Weight Conforming?

From the Diary of a Fat Woman Blog Series

I was recently out with my best guy friend and his 17-year-old daughter when she announced she was on a “diet.” The first problem with this statement is her current weight; she has a willowy shape without an ounce of fat on any part of her body. She runs approximately five miles per day and is careful to never indulge in sweets.

If you’re like me, you might be asking yourself right now why this young lady, who is slim and athletic, would ever choose to go on a diet. But the answer is surprisingly simple. “With millions of Americans on a diet at any given time and thousands of different weight-loss plans to choose from, it’s obvious that Americans highly value thinness,” says Jeffrey Sobal, an associate professor of nutritional sciences at Cornell. “Being thin or large has numerous social meanings for people in many aspects of life.”

Obviously, for girls like my friend’s daughter, being thin is so important that she not only exercises more than most people I know, but she also diets on a regular basis. To me, this is a sad indicator of just how deep the need to be thin runs in society. Similarly, it begs an uncomfortable question of me: what is wrong that I don’t feel compelled to diet and workout the way other people do?

Although I’m far from okay with my weight, still I sit here and do nothing about it. I’ve tried a million times to eat better and begin an exercise regimen, but I don’t stick with anything long enough to see results. In short, I always go back to my old habits. Why?

Sobal goes on to say, “Weight control is not just a health issue but a major social and cultural force in our society. For many people, weight is a major concern because failure to control it can have devastating social consequences.”

I have encountered uncomfortable situations in which people have made derogatory comments about my weight. I’ve looked in the mirror a million times and seen someone with a thick waist, large breasts, and big bottom that could really use some time in the gym. And yet I find it easier to remain the same rather than get my act together, fight back against the insults, and work for a better physique. Is this some kind of rebellion, or do I unconsciously revel in knowing I’m not the best I can be?

“What you weigh is a simple fact, but what you do with that fact in developing your identity or resisting stigma and eating disorders in a society that highly values thinness and often discriminates against fat people is complex,” says Sobal.

Does this statement mean people should resist conforming to ideals of thinness and just be themselves? Maybe, maybe not, but that’s certainly the way I interpret it. I don’t think it’s rebellion, or lack of concern, or any other phenomenon that keeps me from trying to shed 70 pounds and wear a size 6. I think that I just want to be me, whether I’m thin and beautiful or not. But buried beneath that desire is a longing to be accepted by others. Therein is the problem, because fat, as a rule, is ridiculed and held as an object of pity at every turn.

I don’t want to be an object of any sort. I simply want to be the person I’m meant to be, regardless of my size. And if I’m destined to be overweight, I have to accept that without waiting for the rest of the world to do the same. Perhaps someday the widespread obsession with thinness will give way to a desire to know and love people for who they truly are.

What did you think?


Next:Mirror, Mirror...Previously:Beauty in Many Sizes

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  • You know what they say - kids learn stuff from their parents (or peers). So it is normal to hear from a healthy looking person "I need to loose weight" or I wish I could loose 10 or 20 lbs.

    My daughter who has a great hour glass figure is always saying "I need to loose weight". I always reply with you are so lucky to have such a nice figure and you don't need to loose weight, you look great. She says "mom, I'm a skinny fat person!" I gasp.

    As far as making the effort to work out - it takes time out of your day (to me that's the easy part). It's the extra driving (once you get home you want to stay home), money (who has extra money now days), laundry (if you put your wet stinky clothes in the hamper they make everything stink and get moldy if wet enough from sweat), and more showers (to dry out your skin and you would have to wash your hair twice a day - which can promote damage or thinning hair). Not to mention you have to buy or wear cute workout clothes and of course have some great supportive tennis shoes. I forgot to even mention the work out mat, weights, videos, and what ever else makes you want to work out.

    Plus, have you ever noticed working out makes you want to eat more?!

    Well gee whiz, with all that said I almost talked myself out of working out tonight! The thing is most of us have everything I mentioned above already so there is really no excuse not to get outside and take a walk or two around the block, lift some weights or do some squats.

  • It's great that YOU are happy with the person you are. It seems like the outside influences make you feel that you have to lose weight. If you find reasons to lose weight (you want more energy, feel better from an ailment, etc) then it might be easier to do it for YOU. But at this point it sounds like only society makes you feel bad about yourself.
    I agree with Nancy--more exercise just makes me HUNGRIER. Lifting weights is a great way to tone the body for a shorter amount of time without slaving at the treadmill for an hour--and making you just feel super hungry. And I've heard more muscle burns more calories at rest. Often women who lift weights don't bulk up and sometimes they don't lose weight--but they have a more toned physique and do end up having to buy smaller clothes! Weight is only a number, especially in this case...

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