Thursday, January 3, 2013

If you say it's about your health, you're lying

With this being the first week of the New Year, we're all still clinging desperately to the idea that we'll keep our New Year's resolutions.

(I'm the crying kid)

I don't usually make resolutions, but this year I seem to be overflowing with them (which is actually a bad strategy since we only have a limited amount of willpower to allot each day, but I'm throwing caution to the wind).  In 2013 I'd like to: (1) quit smoking completely [I've majorly cut down since my college days, only smoking sporadically, but I'd like to cut it out completely, sigh], (2) read a lot more [I've already read 2 1/2 books this year, thank you very much], and (3) lose weight [Chelle & I are looking into joining a gym and I limited myself to 3 starbursts after lunch today].

Let's take a look at this last one.  Over the past year I've gained about 12 or so pounds.  I had been comfortably in the "normal weight" category, but now my BMI has entered the lower echelon of "overweight."  Here are some pictures for you to compare:

My husband & I in front of the Great Rift Valley

Chelle & I and some of the fam this Christmas

Now sure, I've put on weight, but really BMI scale?  "Overweight"? That's a bit harsh.

In any event, studies have shown and keep showing that being in the "overweight" category or even the lower level "obese" category is actually healthier than the "normal weight" category (healthy being defined as you're less likely to die--a sensible measure).  Thus, if I wanted to be at my healthiest, I should stay at this weight but start exercising more since exercise is good for you notwithstanding your weight.

However, I can't imagine going to the gym 3+ times a week and not wanting to lose some weight.  I know a lot of people who've started exercising and eating better over the last couple of years and they all say they're doing it for their health, but let's be honest: we lose weight because we think it makes us look better.   Before all these studies started coming out (and the last one was a meta-analysis involving nearly three million subjects from more than a dozen countries, so we're not talking about preliminary data here) I had no way of proving it, but I don't see any of my "health-conscious" friends running out to put on a few more pounds now that studies show it's healthier.  

So I'm torn.  Should I go out and buy some larger jeans and embrace the new me (which is what the feminist inside me tells me I should do) or should I just accept that in our culture thin is beautiful, even if it does make me slightly more likely to die?

When Chelle & I were plotting our sci-fi/steampunk novel VEILED, I insisted on making "husky" the feminine ideal in that world (luckily Chelle was down).  For years I've been complaining that in every fantasy or science fiction book I read, thin is beautiful.  It holds true even in worlds where the people are starving and therefore fat should be a desired trait.  Is it that writers think readers can suspend disbelief enough to buy the presence of magic or aliens, but not enough to believe that another culture might find buxom babes hotter than bean poles?

A hot lady in Eskifalia (the world in VEILED) 

So, considering all of this, does it make me a hypocrite to want to lose weight myself?  Probably.  But it also means that I'm a human woman living in America and I know that when I'm thinner people smile at me more and bartenders bring me drinks faster.



  1. I think this is the best blog post so far! And not just because the "little husky" cracks me up every time I see it. :)

  2. i didn't know that it was "healthier" to be a little heavier. there are other reasons as well as aesthetics to strive to be on the leaner side. over the last year, health problems have made me gain A LOT of weight (i'll see your twelve pounds and raise you another fifty) and hooboy! can i tell you extra wait is obnoxious. it's uncomfortable to not be able to reach, squat, stretch, whatever as freely as before. it's actually painful to be very active. nothing ever seems to fit right. things rub against each other and chafe and jiggle and UGH! aesthetics are just fine. you like the way something looks... i don't see the shame in that. it's when you look down on something else... or more when you look down on PEOPLE because of a certain physical characteristic. different qualities appeal to each of us, that's why so many people are married/ have kids/ whatnot. without that fact, the human populace wouldn't be so inflated. i like that you made strides to actually implement an appropriate societal notion of beauty in your novel. but, i don't think you need to guilt trip yourself if that isn't the way you want to look. i don't know. very thought-provoking post. keep 'em coming! :D


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