Friday, October 9, 2009

Body Image

Why are we so obsessed with body image? Girls hear it while growing up from their mothers, women hear it through the media, family, friends, etc. Society places a huge stress on women to be "perfect." The new craze in diets is always flooding the newsstands, girls and women starve themselves to get skinnier. Even if they are already thin, they are not thin enough. Many go to unhealthy means to lose that last 10 pounds.

I read an article yesterday about a place in Africa where heavy women are ideal. Instead of like the United States where we send our overweight kids to fat camp, they take their daughters and send them to binge eating camp. The heavier the daughters get the better they are to be suited as a bride. I mean, these girls are on a 14,000 - 16,000 calorie diet a day!! Quite a bit more than the 1,200 - 2,000 calories a day that we all have heard is the healthy amount to eat. If the girls throw up, they eat that as well. It's as much food as they can pack in to become bloated roley polies.

The idea in this area is compared to men and livestock in the days of yore. The more fat livestock you have the wealthier the man. In this case, the heavier the wife you have, the better off the man is financially. It shows that he has enough wealth to care and feed his wife.

I grew up with my mom on diets, some not so healthy like those "cleansing" diets that are all the rage in Hollywood. The idea behind these type of diets are to "detox" your body of harmful chemicals. I did some research on this and found out what these diets really do. This is taken from an article by Mehmet Ox, M.D.:

"After a few days of massively scaling back food intake, your metabolism starts to plummet. Your brain senses that there isn't enough food coming in so it tells your body to cling desperately to the fat stores it already has, and starts to burn lean muscle tissue for fuel - two things that ultimately increase your percentage of body fat. Also, levels of omega-3 fats in your brain fall (your brain is made up of around 30 percent of these fats) causing you to be more prone to depression."

I made two promises to myself many years ago while watching my mom begin looking like a ghost on the so called "rave" diet.

1. I will not go to the extreme to lose weight. I will be healthy and in turn happy. If weight loss is my goal it will be done in a healthy manner. (Do not skip meals, eat small balanced meals throughout the day, never go more than 3.5 hours without food, lose no more than 1-2 pounds a week.)

2. I will not degrade my daughter (this goes for boys as well, but girls do tend to get the brut of the ideal image more) on her appearances. I will teach her a happy and healthy lifestyle.

In a country where the average woman is a size 12-14, let's make it our goals as women to become better role models for future generations. Let us teach our children not to base their happiness on the latest body image, but on a better, healthier life.

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