By Angela Reinhardt
Before I sat down to write this I stepped on the scale in our office bathroom. It showed, and has been showing for months, me at 15 (sometimes 20) pounds heavier than I was a year and a half ago.
My personal habits were once the picture of health, including an almost total vegetarian diet, and consistent yoga and running. I hardly ever splurged, ever.
Things have changed so much in the last year and a half.
My life became stressful, like so many people’s do. As the stress increased those ultra healthy habits became more difficult to maintain. Before, I would have told you my lean physique was what I wanted. Now, after months of wanting to get back to that body weight, my perspective has completely changed regarding what I desire for myself physically, and what I think is healthy for women both physically and emotionally.
For me, things culminated while standing in the bathroom at a restaurant. A woman came in. She was middle-aged, 45 or 50, with a very small “athletic” figure and a top half that was too large to be her own. I watched her as she poured over herself in the mirror, tugging on her jeans, shifting her hips and straightening up her posture as she smoothed out the front of her shirt.
Even though her figure was exactly what she was aiming for, I imagined, her expression was so sad and miserable. I felt so much sorrow for this woman because I knew she didn’t choose that body type for herself. I wondered what force in her life was pushing her to shape herself in a way that didn’t satisfy her. Was it her husband? Was it commercialism? Was it both?
Interesting that 50 years ago American women weren’t concerned about their weight, according to a Psychology Today article that explores man’s attraction to women from an evolutionary perspective.
“There were few books about dieting and no weight-loss programs,” it says. “[But] Today even slender women are dissatisfied with their bodies; more than a quarter of those who weigh 110 to 114 pounds are trying to lose weight. A woman’s image of the ideal figure is not subject to the same evolutionary pressures as a man’s is; it’s much more influenced by the culture she lives in.”
That being said, I won’t ignore the fact that most women want to feel attractive to the opposite sex. But what is it that men find attractive? It seems almost idiotic to cite studies that have found males prefer healthy curves to gaunt, boney women. Don’t we all instinctively know this? The problem is women are so influenced by media that they have been brainwashed to think that men prefer thinness, so women try to be thin and, like the lady in the bathroom, are still unhappy.
The Psychology Today article goes on to tout meaty curves in females, which signals in men the ability for that woman to produce children with a “wide array of survival skills.”
“Only bears ready to hibernate, penguins facing a sunless winter without food, or whales swimming in arctic waters have fat percentages that approach those in normal, healthy, trim young women,” it says.
See, ladies? It’s biological. We’re supposed to be fat in all the right places.
My own habits weren’t unhealthy at all when I was so small, but I’m much more relaxed about weight fluctuations now. Anyone who knows me knows I’m not overweight, but I’m so thankful to be at a place where I embrace, and actually welcome, my extra padding as a beautiful part of being a woman. My goal now is to find a happy medium between optimum health, aging gracefully, getting through each day with dignity, and maintaining the curves that are a woman’s God-given right, damn it.
My goal is to love myself on a deeper level, which can sustain me through jeans that are too tight, old age and wrinkles, and I want so much for other women to feel this way about themselves too.