Weight insecurity: Is being comfortable with yourself enough?

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My grandmother, a beautiful, immaculately put together, almost septuagenarian, has decided to go hungry because an old friend remarked upon seeing her that “she let sheself get real fat”. She has now reduced her already restricted cardiac patient’s diet to what seems like two, microscopic portions per day. My grandmother is no means overweight, in case you’re wondering. For me, she continues to redefine loveliness and grace.
I’ve been struggling to understand how a woman I’ve always known to be so confident has let such a small and thoughtless comment get so far under her skin. It’s got me thinking that perhaps we aren’t as immune as we think we are to what other people think about our looks.
Ideal weight is a relative concept. One person’s “rel magga is another person’s “slim and sexy”. So at any given weight you’re at, somebody must find yuh too fat, and somebody else must find yuh too thin. As for finding your own “just right”… well, we all know that’s the hard part.
Like it or not, we are affected by the way others perceive us. We’re social creatures, and it’s a basic human desire to be liked and valued by others.
We are flooded with images of carefully honed, surgically enhanced bodies, and we’re taught to believe that they are perfect and desirable. According to the ads take phentermine for weight loss supplements, if you are overweight, you are depressed, ashamed, and your love life sucks. Those impossibly slender, yet well-endowed folk seem to be happier, healthier, and loved by all. You’d be hard pressed to find someone who isn’t affected by these messages, in one way or the other.
Men are not entirely immune either, although it may seem like they are. I’ve often looked at balding men with huge, protruding bellies, and wondered how on earth they remain so utterly convinced of their own irresistibility. It’s often said that the pressure placed on women to be impossibly fit and flawless is greater than that placed on men. But on the flipside, do men grapple with these insecurities in private, having no public outlet for them?
It seems we’re perpetuating weight insecurity without knowing it. Once or twice, people have stopped me in the streets, not to ask how I’m faring, but to inform me of how much weight they think I’ve gained, or how tired I look. And the tone! As if it is their job to inform me. Then they walk off, all smug and satisfied with themselves.
This takes me back to one exceptionally harassing morning, when I had arrived at work late and flustered. I had no sooner set down my bag, when a cheerful co-worker decided to volunteer, “Whey girl, how you looking so fat?” I tried my best not to let it bother me any further than I was already bothered. I replied that I must have gained a bit of weight, but that it was all right.
“Serious! But you put on so much!”
He seemed aghast. You’d swear that I’d gained 500 pounds overnight.
I confess that comments like these sometimes affect me. At times, I find myself dressing with the deliberate goal to conceal and disguise, as if my body is something to be ashamed of. I’ve never thought of myself as being insecure, but then again, it shows, and disturbingly so, how self-perception can be corroded.
I’m sure you know someone, a smart, attractive, capable someone at that, who has been known to rub his or her hands together in malicious pleasure upon seeing an old schoolmate who has ‘let deyself go’… or someone who has fallen into the horrific habit of asking, “Am I as big as him or her?” at the mall or the beach. Cringe-inducing stuff.
Why is it, I wonder, that being comfortable with yourself is not enough? Why is it so easy to pinch a young girl’s arm and make joking assumptions about how much she eats?
The next time someone is boldface enough to tell you about your weight, go ahead and say something witty and unexpected, like “I know… is just more sexiness”, or “I look good, ent?”
The real challenge, though, is really meaning it. It’s easy to deflect a comment with quick wit, but being satisfied with your body goes far deeper. There’ll always be the trendy outfit that doesn’t look quite right, or the person you want to look perfect for. I think I look fine, but to be quite honest, I wouldn’t refuse a flat belly, and I can’t think of anyone who would.  Perhaps it starts with simply loving yourself as you are, acknowledging your insecurities, and the rest just may follow.

My grandmother, a beautiful, immaculately put together, almost septuagenarian, has decided to go hungry because an old friend remarked upon seeing her that “she let sheself get real fat”. She has now reduced her already restricted cardiac patient’s diet to what seems like two, microscopic portions per day. My grandmother is no means overweight, in case you’re wondering. For me, she continues to redefine loveliness and grace.

I’ve been struggling to understand how a woman I’ve always known to be so confident has let such a small and thoughtless comment get so far under her skin. It’s got me thinking that perhaps we aren’t as immune as we think we are to what other people think about our looks.

Ideal weight is a relative concept. One person’s “rel magga is another person’s “slim and sexy”. So at any given weight you’re at, somebody must find yuh too fat, and somebody else must find yuh too thin. As for finding your own “just right”… well, we all know that’s the hard part.

Like it or not, we are affected by the way others perceive us. We’re social creatures, and it’s a basic human desire to be liked and valued by others.

We are flooded with images of carefully honed, surgically enhanced bodies, and we’re taught to believe that they are perfect and desirable. According to the ads take phentermine for weight loss supplements, if you are overweight, you are depressed, ashamed, and your love life sucks. Those impossibly slender, yet well-endowed folk seem to be happier, healthier, and loved by all. You’d be hard pressed to find someone who isn’t affected by these messages, in one way or the other.

Men are not entirely immune either, although it may seem like they are. I’ve often looked at balding men with huge, protruding bellies, and wondered how on earth they remain so utterly convinced of their own irresistibility. It’s often said that the pressure placed on women to be impossibly fit and flawless is greater than that placed on men. But on the flipside, do men grapple with these insecurities in private, having no public outlet for them?

It seems we’re perpetuating weight insecurity without knowing it. Once or twice, people have stopped me in the streets, not to ask how I’m faring, but to inform me of how much weight they think I’ve gained, or how tired I look. And the tone! As if it is their job to inform me. Then they walk off, all smug and satisfied with themselves.

This takes me back to one exceptionally harassing morning, when I had arrived at work late and flustered. I had no sooner set down my bag, when a cheerful co-worker decided to volunteer, “Whey girl, how you looking so fat?” I tried my best not to let it bother me any further than I was already bothered. I replied that I must have gained a bit of weight, but that it was all right.

“Serious! But you put on so much!”

He seemed aghast. You’d swear that I’d gained 500 pounds overnight.

I confess that comments like these sometimes affect me. At times, I find myself dressing with the deliberate goal to conceal and disguise, as if my body is something to be ashamed of. I’ve never thought of myself as being insecure, but then again, it shows, and disturbingly so, how self-perception can be corroded.

I’m sure you know someone, a smart, attractive, capable someone at that, who has been known to rub his or her hands together in malicious pleasure upon seeing an old schoolmate who has ‘let deyself go’… or someone who has fallen into the horrific habit of asking, “Am I as big as him or her?” at the mall or the beach. Cringe-inducing stuff.

Why is it, I wonder, that being comfortable with yourself is not enough? Why is it so easy to pinch a young girl’s arm and make joking assumptions about how much she eats?

The next time someone is boldface enough to tell you about your weight, go ahead and say something witty and unexpected, like “I know… is just more sexiness”, or “I look good, ent?”

The real challenge, though, is really meaning it. It’s easy to deflect a comment with quick wit, but being satisfied with your body goes far deeper. There’ll always be the trendy outfit that doesn’t look quite right, or the person you want to look perfect for. I think I look fine, but to be quite honest, I wouldn’t refuse a flat belly, and I can’t think of anyone who would.  Perhaps it starts with simply loving yourself as you are, acknowledging your insecurities, and the rest just may follow.

 

Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné is a writer and artist. Her work has been featured in publications such as Bim: Arts for the 21st Century, The Caribbean Writer, Tongues of the Ocean and Anthurium: A Caribbean Studies Journal. Check out her blog at danielleboodoofortune.blogspot.com.

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