Ahhh, the New Year filled with resolutions and disillusions. I don’t make resolutions, well mostly because of the disillusions. But there is always a ‘beginning of the new year frenzy’ around how to best accomplish what you have now (and likely for the past several years) decided you are finally resolved to do. Of course number one on the list for many is ‘weight loss.’ Sometimes its disguised as ‘get fit’ or ‘get healthy’ and it would be great if that is really what folks are looking for, but most of the time I would venture to say they really mean ‘omg I’m fat and this time I will do something about it.’ And that’s okay. It’s not my business. I try very hard to stick to the Underpants Rule my friend Ragen so brilliantly coined. The Underpants Rule is: everyone is the boss of their own underpants so you get to choose for you and other people get to choose for them and it’s not your job to tell other people what to do. In fact if I had to make a resolution, working hard on sticking to the Underpants Rule would be it.
As a side note the Underpants Rule doesn’t mean to wear little boy’s underwear on your head because you couldn’t find a babushka that morning before leaving the house to go to Best Buy and sit next to me as I upgraded my phone. Just so we’re clear.
I try not to jump in and ‘help’ on conversations revolving around weight and health of which there are many this time of the year. Although some of my friends might disagree, they have no idea how much worse it could be. I do my best to eat foods that I enjoy, make me feel good and help my body do the amazing things it needs to do. And I take it out for a walk or Wii dancing or join my friend Jeannette in one of her Fat Chick workouts, or something else fun as often as I can. I don’t always make the best choice, but that’s okay. I am really not interested in the latest diet, healthy living plan, guru, shake, meal or reality show. That doesn’t, however, stop others from jumping in to a conversation on weight with me. A conversation, by the way, they actually initiate. That didn’t stop the lady behind me in the grocery story from commenting on the contents of my shopping cart last week. Apparently if you are fat and buy vegetables you MUST be trying to lose weight. And “good for you!” Fortunately for that lady I had just spent some quiet time in my studio so I was able to resist the urge to demonstrate to her the underpants rule by whipping out both of our underpants in the grocery store so it was very clear whose were whose.
As someone who experienced disordered eating for a big chunk of my life, it’s better for me if I can avoid getting worked up about it. However when they go after the kids, I have a really hard time. That is when the seeds for my disordered eating and body image issues and anxieties were planted, and I hate to see it happening when I know it will take years for that child to recover, if they do.
I work pretty hard to surround my 15 year old daughter with a diverse range of body images in the art and media I purchase. I can’t control what she sees or reads elsewhere but we do talk about it and try to keep things in perspective. My involvement with the Association for Size Diversity and Health gives me access to all kinds of research (real research, not the drug or food company funded “wow we tried this on 10 people and SURPRISE! it turns out our stuff is what works best!” kinda research) so we can discuss what is based in science and what isn’t. I have a wide variety of food and activity options at home. She doesn’t always make the best choice either, but that’s okay too.
As parents we want to take care of our kids, teach them to respect others and themselves, and keep them from harm. So it baffles me that parents would sign their kid up for something like “The Biggest Loser.” I mean, you don’t even have to watch the show to know that contestants are screamed at, pushed until they puke, dehydrated until they pee blood, pass out etc. There are media reports and blogs about it and apparently some of this was highlighted in the very first episode this season. The Biggest Loser reality show is at best voyeurism and exploitation (actually, I think that is the definition of a reality show); and at worst it is a dangerous, vulgar, demoralizing display of what our culture is capable of once we have narrowed our sights on what demographic is the “other.” I am not sure what got into those parents’ underpants (my best guess would be LOTS of dollar bills). I just hope they save some of it for the inevitable consequences of selling out their kid.
Hey, here are some great projects to get involved in. Check them out!
Resolved: Addressing Weight Bias in Health Care Video Project.