Sunday, April 19, 2009

That's Right, I Said it

oh. my. goodness. Something has been bothering me for weeks, months, possibly years. And I am going to say it. I am going to throw my hat in the ring on this one. I am going to expose one of the issues in our society that makes me







I saw a blog post awhile back somewhere that Mandisa has a new CD coming out called 'Freedom' and that she is touring and sharing the new freedom she has found ...

not in Christ, but through WEIGHT-LOSS!!

She lost 70-80 pounds and is touring and talking about her weight-loss and the causes for her original weight-gain and the freedom she has found. Now let me be clear right from the start. Absolute, double, triple, quadruple kudos to her for losing 80 pounds. Kudos to her for sharing the freedom that she has found in that. And a Million Kudos to her for sharing that she was abused as a child and raped as a teenager. I absolutely realize that it takes guts to put yourself out there to that degree. I totally get that. And I hope that others who have struggled through those issues can find healing and wholeness through truth and transparency in safe ways. She is also clear that those experiences affected how she saw her body and that she used food to pad herself to feel safe. I can understand that. I think a lot of women can.

But everything I have seen posted and the video I saw of her on the show, there is #1) zero mention of God or Jesus or the healing he has given her or the source of her ability to forgive Simon Cowell way back when. and #2) it is implied that the only way to 'freedom' is to lose weight and look a certain way. The worst part is that that certain look is never defined or hinted at. Just that if you have weight to lose or if you think you might or if you simply don't like how you look then you have work to do before you can get freedom.

Right at the beginning Hoda says 'Congratulations!! How Amazing!!' and Kathie Lee says "You look beautiful!!" And all I can think is "Did she truly look so horrendous and awful before??"

This is the whole thing about this weight-loss debate that gets me. Who decided what is the 'right' size to be? Who decided what women should weigh? Why does it vary so incredibly wildly across various cultures?? And, why have we all bought into this idea that we are 'over'weight if we don't fit nicely into a certain box on a chart that was created like 40-50 years ago?? 100 years ago women were expected to have 19 inch waists and would physically injure themselves permanently to get and keep that waist!

I understand that a physical human frame of bones and muscles and filled with all our vagary of organs can only tolerate so much abuse and misuse before it starts to quit. I agree that carrying around an extra 100 pounds is hard on the body in a myriad of ways. I agree that to be stuck in your house because you carry an extra 300, 400, 500 or more pounds is no healthy way to live. However, a wonderful dear friend of mine has recently put on I think like 20 pounds and she looks just as wonderful to me as she ever did before. Further her husband loves her deeply and has probably not even really noticed the weight, in fact he may even appreciate it. I don't know. They have had a few major changes in their life in the last year (all good changes ultimately, but all change creates stresses) so it is, in my opinion, absolutely acceptable for her to have put on a few pounds in her efforts to adapt to her new life and cope with the new stressors. Granted, we all ought to be relying on God for that and we ought to be looking to him to give us what we need to cope and we ought to be finding our comfort and identity and peace him Him. But when you have that down pat for all the stressors in YOUR life, then write a book, make a few million dollars and then argue with me.

I, myself, starting at about 188 pounds today, according to those wonderful, lovely charts have a minimum of 50 pounds to lose to get to 135ish which is the top range for my 5'2" height. Considering I do not have particularly large bones I probably ought to be shooting for another 10 and have a goal weight of 125. I weighed a bit less than that in high school, so I know what I look like at that weight. However, the life I lead and the choices I choose (Coke over water, sugar over sweetner, cookies over carrots) keep me at this weight. I try to be active and I try to make good choices when I can, but, clearly, this is a losing battle for me, at this time.

Now, here is what gets me. Why exactly 'should' I weigh 130?? Who says I should?? Why do I believe them?? Why do we assume that whomever set up those charts in the first place had any idea what they were talking about?? Why do we allow them to define our self-respect, our level of worth and the ceiling to which we can aspire?? Why does the only path to freedom require losing 50 pounds???

I spend a lot of time with family and close of friends. I work 40 hours a week. I go to church at least 3 out of 4 sundays. I do watch a lot of TV, but at minimum half of it is 'bonding' time that I spend with someone I am close to. I watch 3 shows right now with my mom. I don't care what you think of cable tv or my lifestyle I am absolutely unwilling to give all 3 of them up right now to spend more time in the gym to reach this potentially unreachable goal. And one of those 3 shows is Biggest Loser .... how's that for irony!

A lot of the time I love my life. I do the things I enjoy and I enjoy the people who get me and I make it a point to try to live as fully as I can in any moment. Most moments that does not include a work out tape or carrot sticks. So, why can't I find freedom exactly where I am right now?? The bible says that Jesus came to set the Captives Free! Not that he came to set the Skinny Captives Free ... or even that he came to set the 'Healthy' Captives Free! All of them.


I know some would then argue that once you have been set free, that the weight should naturally drop off because you will 'naturally' eat less junk food and work out more in appreciation of that freedom. Really?? Cause I tend to think that although I might have a bit more bounce in my step that the true effect of my freedom would be laughter. I laugh. A lot. Loudly. I would think because of my personality and the intricacies which HE placed inside of my character that the freedom would manifest itself individually. For me, that may include more celebrations. More Reward Chocolate. More Enjoyment Coca-Cola. More Celebratory Chinese.

Because for me, as a single woman who lives alone, there isn't another person here to give me a hug or a pat on the back. As a woman who can just exactly pay her bills with a few bucks left over I can't buy myself flowers every time I want to celebrate. And, I don't care what anyone says, going for a walk will NEVER compare to sitting down and enjoying a perfectly doctored cup of coffee.

I'm just tired of the absolutism that exists about weight. I often joke that

I'd rather be Fat and Happy
than Skinny and Miserable.
I'd like to be Skinny and Happy,
but if those are the choices, mine is made.

And that seems to be true for most of our society. They assume that because I carry an extra 50+ pounds around I must have some big psychological issue lurking unaddressed. I know people, personally, who probably think that God and I have some MAJOR problem because I continue to struggle with this weight year after year after year and, clearly, I am unrepentant of something or I would have been set free already. I love wearing high heels, and I wonder if people look at me and think I look like a pig on ice skates. Sometimes I feel that way myself. But does that stop me from eating the extra bit of brownie? nope.

I'm just so sick and tired of this whole debate even existing any more. Why can't I BE a size 16 and enjoy life to the FULL? Why can't I enjoy my sugar-laden coffee and have a good man by my side? Why can't I perk myself up in the afternoons with a Coke and have a successful side business? Why can't I have it all and weigh 188?? Why shouldn't I have it all just because I would rather eat chocolate cupcakes than walk on a treadmill for hours upon hours upon hours??

I don't know why. So, I'm going to. Starting tonight, I am going to do EXACTLY that. I am going to go and enjoy every single second of every single moment that I can. And if that means I eat too much Chicken Tortelloni Pomodoro because it tastes just THAT fantastic, so be it. And if that means that I sit in a chair and do nothing but laugh and cry with my mom while we watch The Amazing Race. Then so be it. And if that means that I live my remaining days as a Single Woman because no man can see past my size 16 pants to my Size 100 Heart, then so be it.

Phenomenal Woman

Pretty women wonder where my secret

I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
I say,
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It's the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can't see.
I say,
It's in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed.
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,It's in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
'Cause I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.
~Maya Angelou

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