Sunday, August 29, 2010

RE: Body Image / Health

Before you read further, please read this blogpost by the lovely Becky, and watch this video by the fabulous Paige.

I am trying to reconcile these two things, because I can sort of see and agree with both.

I think the difference is that Paige is talking about people mentioning weight issues out of a concern for someone's health, and Becky is talking about people discussing weight issues as a matter of aesthetics.

I really can't fathom Western society changing to the point where it is anything less than rude to state something about someone's weight matter-of-factly, but I think it would be beneficial to pay attention to someone to the point where we understand if they are healthy or not.

A few summers ago I spent some time in what is essentially but not actually an orphanage in Mexico. My friend I traveled with and I noticed things that seemed alarming in the eating habits of one girl (she mostly threw the bulk of her meals away), but it wasn't until I found her gagging herself with her toothbrush that I raised our concerns to the house madre. It wasn't that I thought she was too thin, it was that I thought her actions were unhealthy. See, this works both ways.

If someone expresses disdain for their own body image, instead of throwing them a "you're not fat," how about offering to participate in some physical activity together? My friend Luke did this for my friend Beth and me, and though I resisted at first, soon I was jogging several times a week with them, and that fall I ran my first 5K.

People noticed, too. I got people telling me I looked thinner and asking me about it.

This was a couple years ago and those friends have moved away and I hardly run anymore. During #818 I noticed I was much more physically active, and I think that it is because a lot of my time is spent sitting. Oh, internet. You can't really remotely be physically active with someone.

I went for a jog the other night and got that terrible itchy leg/ itchy belly thing. This time I decided to google it.

The first result was slightly embarrassing, but probably dead-on:

It usually occurs during exercise performed after a long period of inactivity. The itching is not on the skin, it’s inside the actual limbs. There are millions of tiny capillaries and arteries inside our muscles which expand rapidly due to the demand for more blood that is brought on by exercise. When fit, these capillaries remain open allowing maximum blood passage, but when unfit and inactive they tend to collapse, allowing only minimal blood passage (which is sufficient for a sedentary person however). The rapid expansion of these vessels causes adjacent nerves to send impulses back to the brain which are interpreted as an itch. That’s why after a few sessions the sensation tends to go away. Just another indication of increasing fitness levels.

So probably, I need to move around more. Also, it's completely ridiculous the standard of body weight that is prized by society. It isn't that people were loads skinnier years ago, it's just that the fashions didn't make you look ridiculous if you weren't extraordinarily thin. Check out this picture of my Grandma:

She's the one on the right. It's not that she was entirely lacking the sort of belly that I loathe on myself (moreso because kids ask me if I'm pregnant), it's just that her shorts rise above it. I hated high waist pants as a child, but now I totally understand the benefit.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

Well this is really interesting because I found myself agreeing more with Paige but there's a fault in her plan and that is as Becky pointed out, people say mean things. Weight is such a complicated thing. I admit that when I look at an obese person I'm disgusted, I can't imagine letting myself get that way. Then again, I'm genetically small and my mum has taught me about good food and especially how to cook vegetables. I absolutely hate it when people look at me, feel my arms and tell me I haven't got any body fat and clothes should be easy for me. I'm probably getting off topic but my body is out of proportion and it takes a lot of effort to find clothes, I don't have any weight on my arms but I do have a tummy. I just think people need to accept that they don't understand everyone's bodies at just a glance and should think twice about making a comment.

Also I hadn't seen nerdfighter secrets before it's a cool idea but all I can think looking at that is I'm so glad I'm not a teenager anymore.

All the best to you Emily and I know how you feel, I used to be really fit and since I've stopped going to dance classes well the smallest bit of exercise has me panting like I've done a marathon.