By Laurie Marhsall
You may have seen a Facebook topic that was going around this week that has caused quite a bit of discussion amongst women and the men who love them. It was a photo of a French plus-sized model named Tara Lynn (not the photo above). Many women reposted the photo and the story about mermaids and whales that went with it, presumably feeling a sense of solidarity with women who are beautiful AND larger than our society’s version of a beautiful woman that we see every day on television and in magazines.
Since the average size a woman wears in our country is a 14, it’s a no-brainer that most women don’t really feel a kinship with the housewives of any county!
Many women posted comments on the photo agreeing with the idea that being overweight didn’t mean being ugly, and that you can be attractive and plus-sized. Others stated that being overweight was just a part of who they were – that they accepted themselves completely and based their self-esteem not just on their appearance but how many friends they had and the rich life they lived and the wonderful children they were raising.
But not all women were in favor of the overly positive attitude of some commenters. Many of the comments I read spoke of the need for us to stop ignoring the fact that being overweight is a problem that is not just about our looks – obesity is a very legitimate health-risk. As we are probably all aware, the epidemic of obesity in our country is on the rise, and is likely going to overtake smoking as the no. 1 cause of preventable illness in the next couple of decades. Being overweight has been linked to diabetes, many forms of cancer, heart disease… all of which can KILL you. Being overweight isn’t just an inconvenience when you’re looking for a pair of jeans that fit – it can severely shorten your life.
Now, I want to be clear that I am a fan of women of all shapes and sizes doing what they want to do and being who they want to be and living rich and fulfilling lives. In fact, I deleted a male acquaintance on Facebook yesterday who said he’d seen enough of the “fat model” that his female friends were posting in their statuses. He’s an idiot, and missed the point, and I hope some of his “friends” gave him a good piece of their minds.
But I also hate the idea of so many women in our society seeing the image of Tara Lynn and using it to validate to themselves that it’s okay to be so large. Being healthy can come in all shapes and sizes, and there are plenty of larger women out there who are running 10 miles a day and eating vegan, etc… but that is not the norm. No woman who values their life and their family and the impact they have on the people around them should use an image of a beautiful large woman as a reason to keep eating unhealthy meals and put off staring a fitness routine.
When it comes down to it, there has to be a balance between healthy body and healthy mind. Being okay with where you are right now is a good thing – certainly we have to be our own biggest fans – but recognizing that you need to do some work to get healthier in order to live the long, rich life you deserve is the best kind of healthy you can be.
You don’t have to be a mermaid, as the story suggests… but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting to be a dolphin instead of a whale.
Look for Laurie’s fitness tips and updates on her personal health-focused journey every other Friday on nwaMotherlode in Mom Blogs. Send questions or input to her at mamas@nwaMotherlode.com. Or click on the comment button below and share your thoughts right now! To see previous installments of Getting Healthy for Good, click HERE.