Weight loss, weight gain, body image...
It's not the pounds we lose or gain, it's about the baggage attached to each of them that almost never gets dealt with, whether we are thin, fat or in-between.
The world tells us that we have to be thin like models and/or actors who must be that way to get work and we, the rest of the women in the world are simply expected to follow their lead.
Yet we are never told that models and the like, of whom some of their number come from a wonderful set of genetics that actually only exist in one eighth (1/8) of the population of the world.
These people are the only ones in the world who have the genetics be model thin and so it follows that most all the other models and actors have a full time job keeping the weight off and/or suffer eating disorders to accomplish being and staying thin.
The world hails these people as the examples; the template if you will, of good looks, self control and total acceptability,which translates into a full wonderful life that is to be envied by all...a life that is by society's definition... a success.
Yet what we either read or hear in the news on a daily basis about the lives of these well known folk is hardly “all that” and as far as them being the standard or the considered norm, the science of human beings tells a completely different story then the one played out for us in print ads and television commercials.
Amazing isn't it?
That the rest of the population of the world, who far out number that 1/8th and all those that struggle to accomplish thinness and can only wish they were born with the genetics of the 1/8th ...isn't it odd that by volume alone, the rest of us aren't considered to be the norm?
Is life through the looking glass all that it's cracked up to be? Apparently it isn't.
While doing the research for this article I came across the one I have provided the link to below.
It was amazing and so full of the truth and shear honesty that I am not ashamed to say that I shed quite a few tears after reading it.
This woman has been on both sides of the looking glass now and the view from the other side, as it turns out, is not what one might have expected it would be.
Our society's expectations that we should all strive to be thin is really a ghastly thing.
Not everyone in the world is made to be thin. In fact, the average size for the average woman is still size 14.
Yet we are preached at and bombarded daily by most every talk show host and/or TV doctors, newscasters, and advertising in the form of television commercials and print ads for magazines and the internet of women wearing clothing that is a size four or less....and mostly less than size four.
The hidden message in all these ads or one sided television conversations is that if we are not thin or do not strive to be thin whatever that means, that we are: unacceptable, out of control, ugly, a failure, and unlovable.
This kind of message has hit young girls the hardest and eating disorders is the result. That's a lot of baggage for a kid that they were never meant to carry around.
So what exactly is at the bottom of all this?
The answer is clear: Money.....filthy lucre, whatever you want to call it.
Weight loss is a multi-billion dollar a year industry, about 55 billion dollars a year to be exact and our society feeds this monster, casting an idol of it in nearly every print ad, or commercial we see and the effects of its handy work are everywhere.
Distorted ideas of what society calls beautiful are plastered all over billboards, television and the internet.
I went to a seminar once where a balding speaker held up a print advertisement that was selling scotch.
The man in the ad, was young, physically fit, with a full head of dark hair, well dressed and was depicted as drinking a fine scotch while the likeness of a requisite thin, female model adorned from head to toe with beautifully coifed hair, fine jewels that accented the exquisite floor length gown she was wearing could be seen from behind him as her hand, shown with perfectly manicured nails had come to rest upon his shoulder.
As the speaker held up this ad, he said:
“Now I would like to think that if I drank this scotch, that I could be this young again, dress that well, have all that hair and considering the fact that I am in my middle forties and still single, I would like to believe that if I drank this scotch that I might finally find a wife!”
At this we all laughed....of course we did, his remarks were meant to make us laugh.
Yet it was the message in his speech that opened our eyes.
The images in the ad were shear perfection.
Literally everything from the models, the clothing, the colors used, down to the lightening played their parts perfectly like vampires drawing us into a world where everything in it testifies to what our society deems, “successful,” while leaving us with a subtle suggestion that we too can live and celebrate this young, wealthy lifestyle.... if we buy.
Needles to say this is deception, yet it depicts all the trappings that our society demands for acceptance in the world.
I come from a household that is of Euro-Mediterranean descent.
My father was what was commonly known in the neighborhood as a good looking man who wore nice clothes like a model.
The truth is, my Dad ate like a truck driver and never gained so much as an ounce.
He never exercised and despite some of his habits, he was relatively healthy for most of his life.
My father was one of those people that was blessed with a very fast metabolism like that of the 1/8th of the population who have the genetics to be and stay thin.
In contrast, my Mother struggled with her weight her whole life. She was a wonderful Mother who was an incredibly talented artist and gifted singer, yet her struggles with her weight, made her doubt herself and that doubt made her believe that she would never measure up.
I have always believed that this kind, beautiful, giving, wonderful blessing my mother was, didn't know how to fight the doubt or its sinister cousin, self -loathing and it was these debilitating feelings or entities that hurt her the most, eventually taking over and practically erasing what she might have accomplished and blessed so many others with in this world and I have always believed that it was the dictates of our society that fed those insidious entities that plagued my Mother everyday.
While it is somewhat interesting to see that dichotomy such as the one between my parents in my own family, it is quite another feeling when I know that I have lived most of my life wishing for my father's skinny genes, but it was not to be as all my siblings and I share my mother's genes instead.
I swear, I have spent my life fighting the battle of the bulge having been on and failed at every diet known to man.
Quite frankly it took me nearly two decades to finally realize that it wasn't about the weight.
In fact.... it was never about the weight.
It was about baggage in the form of my own inability to feel worthy or acceptable and one of the toughest lessons I would learn was how to change that.
It's a long road and it involves un-learning a lot of learned negative beliefs about oneself, but it is a life-affirming journey that is well worth taking.
Suffice it to say, that I have been up and down the scale all my life, yet even at an anorexic ninety six pounds, I still thought I was fat but worse yet, I was isolated, fraught with doubt and self -loathing while my own body image was so abhorrent to me that whether I was up or down on the scale, I avoided mirrors and bought clothing off the shelves that I reasoned would fit.
Most of the time, I was too ashamed to try them on at the store because I didn't want the clerk to see the size (14) and as my family photos will attest, I am no where to be found in most of them, avoiding the camera, I opted to take the photos instead.
All this adds up to the sad representation of the doubt and self -loathing that dominated my life for so long and took years of precious time away from me, that I can never get back.
Yet when I recovered from that particular hell and started looking past society's dictates, I found something quite unexpected but of such intrinsic value that it changed my life, forever.
Acceptance, love and value were the complete surprises that graced my life, when I discovered that, warts and all... I am loved by God and as I got to know Him, I came to see the valuable individual that I...that we all are... to Him.
Imagine giving up your only son to save the world. I am a mother and I can't imagine doing that.
Yet that's exactly what God did when He sent His only Son, Jesus the Christ.
He sent Him (Jesus) who knew no sin into the world to take all our sins upon Himself so that through Him we could be saved.
That is a loving Father!..That is someone who really cares about me and I am still amazed that no matter what happens,the positive feeling, the love, the feeling of great worth that God gives me every day has rejuvenated and invigorated me to actually doing the things that He has gifted me with, all the while knowing that He supports me and loves me all the way...no matter what.
How did I not see all this before?
Perhaps it was all those glittering advertizements and television commercials, that I bought into when I was young.
Yet thankfully, God's loving-kindness, generosity and His unmerited favor has changed me and the way I see myself.
I am not saying that I have ceased to watch what I eat. Being healthy and feeling well is of great importance to me.
Nor am I saying that I don't watch TV or movies, or that I don't look at print ads or commercials anymore, after all a vacation is a valuable refreshment at times, but buying into the fantasy they have used to “sell, sell, sell,” has proved harmful in the past and I am not interested in that losing game.
Healthy reality is choosing and deciding for myself how these things being advertized or how the ideas they embody might serve to benefit my life somehow... but it is not how I can or should adjust my life to accommodate the current societal mores, these things may represent.
Any person who has had to deal with weight and/or negative body image has had to live with a struggle that can feel like it is literally tearing them from limb to limb.
However, there is an old saying: God uses the broken to do His most magnificent work.
If we let Him, God will step in, pick up our pieces and provide us with a miracle that will help us to see the beauty that He not only created, but the beauty that He sees when He looks at us.
A friend of mine wrote a book called “My Big Bottom Blessing.”
I can't tell you how many times I found myself in the pages of that book. If you are or have ever struggled with your weight and /or body image, I highly recommend that you get it and read it, as it is a book that is brimming cover to cover with hope.
Knowing God's love is an integral part of our lives and living in that love allows us to see that intrinsic value that through Christ Jesus, God has placed in all of us.
The key to this priceless gift will be found when we give our lives to God.
Then we will find that our reflection through the looking glass, always reveals a thing of beauty, for only then can we see ourselves through God's eyes.