I know one actress who laments the fact that no matter what project she's working on or what charity she's supporting, every time she's interviewed there's always a question about how she lost the weight (years ago). The worst part is, the answer isn't buried within the story, but is always the headline.
A current campaign is calling us to fight back against "dietainment", but is it the media we're battling? Do they have it all wrong? Publications and programs cater to their audience (and the spending power of said audience). Articles about diets and weight loss sell, because someone is buying them. It's not me (I swear), not for that reason anyway, because other than post-pregnancy, weight loss has never been my goal. However, promise me secrets to clear, youthful skin, blinding white teeth or minimized varicose veins and I'll pick up your magazine or tune into your network. We all have our "thing", and for millions of women it's weight.
I almost feel like I'm not allowed to weigh in (pun intended) on this issue, because someone could easily say I don't understand (I see some women - and men - work so hard to maintain a healthy weight, and it doesn't seem fair that it is easier for some than others), but I do know that I am allowed to look out for my girls, who are bombarded with these messages no matter how hard I try to protect them.
I never put down my appearance in front of my daughters or mention anything negative about my weight. Nor do I bring up the physical insecurities that truly do nag at me - you know, the grey hairs that pop up, the age spot that has appeared overnight on my right cheekbone. I keep my inner voice firmly contained.
As my readers already know, I'm a talk-show junkie, and the girls enjoy watching some of the segments with me (fashion for my older daughter, cooking for my younger) and sometimes they're playing or hanging out within earshot of other types of TV conversations. Frankly, I care less if they overhear comments about sex than I do weight, which means I'm frantically pushing the "mute" button quite a bit, though it's impossible to catch everything.
Now, since I lured you in with a misleading headline, I feel the need to share something helpful. But honestly, I think the fact that I am thin is due more to genetic luck than anything else. I must have a pretty brisk metabolism, which could easily give out on me at any time. Therefore, I don't have any "stay-slim secrets" to share with you, despite the experimental title of this blog post.
But since you're here (and thanks for visiting!) I do have some health habits that I am proud to share and model for my girls:
1. I insist on eight hours of sleep a night.
2. I drink mainly water (fine, with a few Diet Cokes thrown in).
3. I don't smoke or do drugs, and never have. (I had one drag of a friend's cigarette when I was about 19. One was more than enough.)
4. I walk on the treadmill at least six days a week, for 30 minutes. (I have a treadmill desk, and the machine is pointed towards our television, so being productive and entertained provides motivation.)
5. I wear sunscreen.
6. I eat regular meals and snacks.*
*I'm a fan of grazing, but I certainly can't promote my diet, since (full disclosure, right?) it's high-carb, low-fruit-and-veg, lots of fast food/restaurants, and I eat what I want, when I want - in reasonable quantities. I've never been one to eat a bag of cookies or full carton of ice cream, but not a day has gone by in my adult life (barring illness) when I haven't had chocolate.
Is there anything here that can help you stay or get slimmer? Maybe, maybe not. Does it matter? We all want to look our best, and to stay strong and healthy, and there's nothing wrong with the reasonable pursuit of these goals. What is wrong is telling women - and children - that there is one ideal when it comes to beauty, and you either make the cut or you don't.
I don't mind my girls seeing headlines (pulled from some of my current Next Issue selections) like:
"Fresh Healthy Meals"
"Your 15-min get-fit plan"
However, I think the messages sent by some of the following headlines require a bit of conversation (because I swear, there are little, healthy growing girls out there who think that THEY should be striving to reach these goals):
"STOP GAINING WEIGHT"
"Lose Weight Faster"
"Lose Belly Fat Forever"
"FIRM, FLAT ABS"
I experienced great joy last year when my then-5-year-old stepped on the scale and announced "I want to see what size my feet are!" I'm not worried about sex ed; this is the innocence I am desperate to cling on to.