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The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

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Sunday, February 7, 2010

Dying to Fit In


A few weekends ago, while watching the Cardinals and Kurt Warner lose their shot at the SuperBowl, a Taco Bell commercial came on. Not an ordinary Taco Bell commercial, but one that consisted of a girl telling her amazing weight loss story: she only ate off of Taco Bell’s “Fresh Menu.” Of course her results were not typical, but I still couldn’t fathom why a fast food restaurant would attempt such propaganda. As I glanced down at my half eaten plate of nachos and nearly empty beer can, I couldn’t help but worry about how many calories I just consumed, what I’ll look like come spring break and wonder, why the heck do I care so much about my weight?

Then it dawned on me; it has everything to do with America’s obsession with weight and body image. We are less concerned with having and maintaining a healthy body and more concerned with having the perfect body. I don’t know one person who can’t or won’t pick out a flaw they see in their appearance. We care so much about this perfect body because we are constantly confronted with scenarios where we have to compare ourselves to others. When I check out at the grocery store, my cart filled with Oreos and pasta, I have to see magazine covers snubbing Jessica Simpson because of her (gasp!) size 4 body. My roommate nit-picks my eating habits: she herself has recently gone Vegan after reading the popular book “Skinny Bitch.” I even get odd looks as I order my usual double-double and chocolate shake at In-n-Out. Now don’t get me wrong I do eat my fruits and veggies, but who in the world decided a girl couldn’t have a hearty appetite? Who decided we had to be thin to be considered beautiful? Who decided beauty was more important than health, happiness and well-being?

Within one month during my senior year of high school, I lost 20 (of my 125) pounds, which I guess puts me in the category of having an eating disorder. Terrifyingly enough, I was far from an anomaly. Thanks to the American Psychiatric Association, we know that in the United States alone approximately 10% of girls and women (surpassing 10 million) are suffering from diagnosed eating disorders. Of these women at least 50,000 will die. Does our appearance really surpass all else to the point that we will literally diet ourselves to death? Is it possible that the body obsessed culture in which we live will be the death of me?

Three years, two bad boyfriends and thirty pounds later I am finally back on track. With a new found self confidence, a little maturity and the unconditional love from family and friends I now realize that the hot bodies displayed on T.V. and on the covers of magazines are an unrealistic portrayal of women. I don’t want to be Beyonce (although she is ridiculously good looking). I don’t want to be Kate Hudson (OK, I kind of do). More importantly, what I do want is to be healthy. Health has nothing to do with the dimensions of my body and everything to do with the way I feel: an experience, not an appearance. We can’t all have Barbie measurements, but we can all feel confident and at ease in our own skin. When I was fixated on my weight I was miserable. Accepting and even loving my weight allows me to have a higher self esteem which makes me happier, allows me to be my own person, and keeps me from letting society and other people define who I am or how I should look.

I want to live in a world where people are not measured in pounds or inches. I want to live in a world where weight really is just a number. I want to live in a world where I’m comfortable rocking my bikini without stressing over the numbers on my bathroom scale. I want to live in a world where happiness is a function of how I live my life, and not how I look.

-Alex Mead

1 Comments:

Anonymous parrmurr@comcast.net said...

Alex,

I loved reading your entry. Moreover, I love how you think and express yourself. For me, living with diabetes at age 54 presents constant challenges in terms of weight, health, and aging in general. It's a daily balancing act. But I've also learned over many decades and hard bumps that, regardless of age, feeling confident about oneself and strong about one's convictions, along with a vigilant, but not obsessive, eye on smart eating, creates the foundation for happiness and real beauty, inside and out. And none of it is possible without a great sense of humor. You're way ahead of the pack and more beautiful than you know. Love from your Aunt Parry

February 7, 2010 at 2:06 PM  

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