I’ve been getting to read some fascinating things in the Young Adult literature class which will round out my Library degree this May. The novels and non-fiction have been very interesting and the articles and websites have been eye-opening as well.
This week the class is focusing on “Support” for teens and one of the websites to review is beliefnet.com. I love how the site actually has a multi-religion focus; though I feel like much of the material available is geared towards adults rather than teens.
More relevant to this particular blog, I was reading more on the site, trying to get a feel for it and what it had to offer when I came across this “new” two-page bit of writing in the Chicken Soup for the Soul section called “The Un-Diet“. Intrigued, I read it. It started out promising: a young woman has spent much of her life dieting in all the various iterations we’ve many of us come to know ourselves. She finds herself, after a few month hiatus from such efforts, feeling larger, unattractive, self-conscious, and totally ga-ga over some guy at work in another department who she then attempts to dress nicely for; using all of the age-old camouflaging methods of black clothing and body-hiding.
I thought there was potential when the man she tries for asks her out and she enjoys herself so much that she “forgot to worry about weight, exercise or that much hated four-letter word: d-i-e-t”. Huzzah! Realizing that life’s bounty can be so much more important and life-fulfilling than calorie-counting or body-hatred equals YAY! But no. It doesn’t end there.
This young woman invites the young man to her parents for dinner. On the night of her sister’s prom (Um, strange timing-choice to anyone else??). Of course the young woman feels devastated when compared to her prom-dressed lovely (thinner) sister and bawls her eyes out in front of her boyfriend because she felt fat and (of course therefore) ugly. Charmingly, the guy insists that no one gets to put down the woman he loves, especially not the woman he loves.
It seemed a beautiful affirmation: fatties can get love. Stop berating yourself for your body; it is not your shape that dictates the love you receive. Badmouthing yourself in front of your loved ones is NOT the way to go. I thought: huzzah!, Right? Aside from the “OMG, get a man and All of Life’s Woes Will Be SolvedTM”; it was nice to see a bit of positive body-thought there.
But no. The whole end to the article was that when the woman FINALLY stops berating herself and worrying about dieting…she ends up losing all this weight and floats down the aisle at her wedding in her perfectly taken-in gown, “thinner than I’d ever been. I beamed at my husband-to-be, waiting for me by the altar, and I knew it was all thanks to him. Bruce loved me just as I was, and that was the only diet I ever needed.”
Fuck that. Seriously? “Oh gods it was wonderful! I fell in love BUT I TOTALLY ALSO LOST WEIGHT! And that was the BEST PART!” *Epic Eyeroll*
Listen, I’m glad she felt better. I’m happy that love seemed to improve her life in multiple arenas. But what about those of us who do fall in love and feel wonderful and have all that magic and DON’T end up somehow miraculously losing weight to “float” down the aisle? Does that make such love any less valid? NO! And if the author’s point truly was that “My guy loved me AS I WAS”, then why was she so thrilled WHEN SHE WAS NO LONGER AS SHE WAS because she lost enough weight to be thinner than ever?
So that’s your Monday Roundshaped-Rant. Did you fall in love and lose weight like magic? Did you happen to stop dieting and regulate your weigh after some time of fluctuation (raises hand)? Did you stay just the damn same? Did having (or not) the love of a partner drastically affect your self-image? I know it shouldn’t matter but I do know that having Adam D’s support really makes a difference some days so I totally don’t knock that having a partner CAN have a positive influence on self-image.
As we are one week away from Valentine’s day, what thoughts do you have on love and how a person feels about their body?