“You’re lucky you got my hair, it’s gorgeous,” I say while I am curling her hair before school. The last six months is the first time in her life she has allowed me any access at all to her hair, because she wants more intricate styles than she can do for herself.
“Yeah, well I got Dad’s teeth,” Ainsley said.
“They’re straight and you won’t need braces,” I said.
“You also got my eyes, which are really beautiful,” I continued.
“Quit bragging about yourself,” she chastised.
“Hey, I’m bragging about you. You’ll notice as you get older that girls will criticize themselves to death, “Oh, I hate my teeth, I hate my hair, I hate my . . . whatever. Until they really hate themselves”
“Demi Lovato hates herself,” she interrupts. “She hates her show and she hates herself and she got fat and all the kids at school made fun of her, so she started throwing up and she hates herself now.”
“How do you know all this?” I asked.
“All the kids at school saw it on the Internet,” she explained.
“Well, now you see why it’s important to look in the mirror and see what’s good – like your hair and your eyes – instead of listening to what the other kids say or focusing on what you think might be bad,” I say.
“Yeah,” she concedes. “My hair is beautiful.”
“I think those kids have way to much access to the Internet,” I say.
I stand back to look at my hair masterpiece.
“Why’s it all messy!?!” she demands.
Then we have an argument about her talking to me like I’m “the help” instead of her mother doing her a favor.
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Oh the hoopla over Jess Weiner’s article in Glamour Magazine, “Did Loving My Body Almost Kill Me?” going to a doctor, finding out that she’s 250 pounds, pre-diabetic and her cholesterol sucked and then having the audacity to do something about it.
This, from the woman who wrote Life Doesn’t Begin Five Pounds From Now .
I’ve read countless articles both defending and attacking Jess for admitting that she was glad to have lost 25 pounds and – how dare she – admit to having a goal to lose 25 more.
Because there’s this whole new school of thought that you can be Healthy at Every Size and Jess was kindof their role model, their ring leader, their thought leader. There’s a bunch of websites and books about Healthy at Any Weight. They claim that all the science that claim the correlation between obesity and being overweight and heart disease, diabetes, infertility, depression, stroke and a whole host of other deadly illnesses can’t be proven and aren’t really fat-related at all. It’s just a conspiracy against fat people – a social conspiracy. Because we don’t like them. It’s discrimination in the disguise of science.
A lot of really nice, awesome people that I actually respect and admire sit in this Healthy At Every Size camp, so I have pretty much shut my mouth about it. Except I don’t buy it. And I think it sets a lot of people up for a lot of very serious health risks, deadly ones.
I’ve read a lot of misinformation and a lot of well, weird theories about how Jess’s diet, and her new venture in conscious weight loss, is going to cost a lot of girls with eating disorders their recovery and may even cost them their lives.
I think that’s backasswards. It doesn’t make any sense at all.
Did loving her body almost kill Jess Weiner? In a word, No. Because loving your body involves taking care of it, which means it doesn’t get to be 250 pounds. Because you take it to the gym and you make it sweat. You read labels and watch what you put into it.
And on many of these eating disorder recovery blogs I’ve read that they are worried that Jess may be “falling back into her former eating disorder” by deciding she needs to shed a few pounds.
Here’s the flaw with that theory: There is more than one type of eating disorder. Sure there is bulimia and anorexia. But there is also obesity and unconscious eating and eating to stuff one’s feelings, which IS an eating disorder. It is extremely common for people with addictions and eating disorders to simply switch one to another. Which is why you have very high rates of people who have gastric bypass surgery fall into alcoholism – they didn’t recover – they switched their addictions. Or coke heads who quit doing cocaine only to pick up alcohol. Did Jess really recover from her eating disorder? Or did she go from one eating disorder to another one and hide behind a Healthy At Any Size movement that makes it super easy to hide what appears to be a more socially acceptable eating disorder according to the moralistic tone in which it’s prophets deliver it’s message? Only Jess can answer that. Probably, it’s just another step in her path to recovery.
Can you be Healthy At Every Size or Healthy At Any Weight?
No, You Can’t.
A person cannot sustain a body that is 300 or 400 or 500 pounds and not suffer the consequences of impaired mobility, restricted lifestyle, high blood pressure, bad cholesterol, painful joints, diabetes, heart disease or any number of health risks.
Should we treat people at every size and every weight with love and respect? Absolutely. But that’s another issue entirely. Entertaining fictions that could kill them, or at the very least, harm them isn’t a loving act though is it?
Should girls be pressured into a narrow beauty ideal depicted in media and marketing? Absolutely not.
But, the alternative to that is not to be complacent about obesity and overeating.
I recently saw the statistic that 7 million girls suffer from eating disorders. I take issue with that.
Those numbers do not take into account the one in three (1 in 3!) children in this country who are overweight or obese, suffering from the other eating disorders of overeating, medicating themselves with food, unconscious eating, etc. Food is their first drug of choice, the first drug they have access too. And it baffles me why some child advocates, eating disorder organizations, educators and parents aren’t more concerned with those numbers and tend to focus only on the much smaller population of kids who prefer to starve themselves.
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