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women spend most of their lives trying to lose weight. in other news, water is wet

Jo brought an article to my attention recently. Entitled, “Women spend a staggering seventeen years of their lives trying to lose weight” and from the Daily Mail (I know, I know), it was an interesting, although not surprising read.

The stats quoted aren’t really anything new, or all that shocking to me. Most of the women I know, including myself, have been on a diet at some stage in their lives. Some still are and will always be. Some were put on their first diets at ages when they were still losing their “puppy” fat and growing into their adolescent bodies. Some decided to put themselves on diets.

The link between all the women though was that we had all, at some stage or another, put ourselves through complete misery in order to reach some arbitrary ideal. I can’t decide if it’s comforting or sad to know that there are and were so many women like myself out there. Maybe it’s a little of both.

The article has a picture of a (slim, white) woman dressed in white and looking with abject longing at a very large slice of what looks like chocolate cake on one side of the table. On the other, a large bowl of fruit sits, lonely and neglected. Oh, those women, we all know they like to cry into their chocolate cake while watching their soap operas.

Hey, at least the article overall doesn’t appear to be entirely pitting women against women in the ultimate competition of who can lose the most weight.

Most of the reasons put forward for wanting to lose weight can be seen as shallow by the wider public. Wanting to fit into an outfit, wanting to look good for a partner or to be seen as attractive. Sure, there’s those “health” concerns too, but even in advertising in Australia, what I see when I see weight loss commercials on TV or in magazines geared towards women is looking “good” in your clothing or having that “accomplishment” of fitting into a smaller size. Even when exercise is recommended, this is the ultimate goal.

I exercise because I enjoy it. I need to, for my mental health. I’d be lying if body image didn’t come up at least a little bit in the back of my mind if not the forefront, but I know I’m fighting against that internalised and externalised pressure to look “good” as a woman.

The article discusses willpower and stamina in order to “stick” to a diet. Isn’t the very fact of needing to have these two things telling society something? I get pretty sick of the word willpower being related to diets and losing weight.

It also says that another, smaller reason for having trouble sticking to that diet is the prohibitive costs of healthy food. I tend to agree with this in some cases. Healthy food can be expensive for those of us on regular, steady incomes, let alone those with irregular incomes or those who don’t earn an income at all. Most times, paying your bills and making sure you still have a roof over your head can take precedence over sticking to a diet or trying to get all your nutrients.

Hell, my income is somewhat OK and I still take vitamin supplements because sometimes fresh fruit and vegetables are too expensive that week or I know I won’t use them quick enough and they’ll go bad and have to be thrown out.

Human beings are complicated creatures. There are a number of factors and variables to a person. Everyone’s circumstances are different and everyone’s bodies are different. Being healthy is a simple as “go on a diet!” “Calories out, then in!” and it’s a privileged opinion that states this without thinking of all of the other factors at play.

(Image Credit)

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