Column By Melissa Martin
Adding or dropping pounds does not make a person’s worth go up and down.
Fear of fat. “Why do modern women in the most affluent countries in the world live like starving people in a primitive land? Why do they choose to be weak, apathetic and unable to fully contribute to their families, their careers, and their communities? It’s simple. They are terrified of being fat. Women today are afraid to eat . . . afraid their bodies will be unacceptable in a society obsessed by thinness. It’s a fear that consumes, shatters lives, even kills. . . . The number one wish of brilliant, ambitious young women is not to save the rain forests or succeed in a career, but to lose weight.” Excerpt from Women Afraid to Eat Breaking Free in Today’s Weight-Obsessed World, a book by Frances M. Berg (1999).
The Obesity Myth: Why America’s Obsession with Weight is Hazardous to Your Health by Paul Campos (2004) exposed the weakness of the evidence that being overweight is bad for health and the dangers of the current obsession with weight and weight loss in America. “Campos believes that the efforts to portray fat as unhealthy and unacceptable are driven by junk science, hatred of fat people, and profit-hungry dieting industry.” www.livescience.com/.
The number on a scale is not indicative of your human worth. Measuring self by measuring pounds is an erroneous belief — a hyped hullabaloo. Skinny does not equal happy. Body dissatisfaction is out of control. Who is propagating weightism, size prejudice, and appearance discrimination? Who is body-shaming? Who needs to zip their lips?
Females are in body image bondage. Our self-worth and self-concept are tied up in knots. Like dancing puppets, we awkwardly shuffle to a repressive rhythm. Weight obsession is rampant. Can we cut the puppet strings?
Don’t exercise because you reject your body — exercise because you accept your body and want it to be healthy. Stop sending hate messages to your skin, muscles, bones — and fat cells.
Step away from the sensationalized selfie craze. Snapping and posting selfies lead to self-criticism as others spout off with judgmental comments. Why subject yourself to the catty crowd? Why compare your body to others? And even though you may receive positive remarks about your body—it’s still a focus on your outer container. And cyber body-bullying is a problem.
The perfect Barbie doll body is a fallacy. However, Mattel has created three new bodies for Barbie; curvy, petite (shorter), and tall. Why? Because parents requested a more realistic Barbie body. And Mattel listened — it’s about time!
Girls with negative body images are more likely to develop an eating disorder and to experience depression, isolation, and weight loss obsession.
While the world may not see the difference between worth and weight, wise women do. And they can communicate unconditional worth to their daughters—regardless of size and shape. Regardless of boobs, booties, or belly bulges. Regardless of social media and Hollywood hoopla. Regardless.
Preventing body image bondage for our daughters and granddaughters is essential. Let’s teach the next generation to accept natural body shapes and sizes. And that weight does not determine worth.
Investigate the national and global influence of the media’s messages about body shape, size, and weight. Stand up and speak out against body image bondage. Gather facts and statistics and debate the fear of fat.
Please say the following mantra to yourself daily, “My body is my container. It carries around my soul. And my essence. I will honor my body while working on being physically and emotionally healthy. My worth is not tied to my weight.” Find your inner female friend and be kind to her. Your worth is not determined by your weight.
Melissa Martin, Ph.D., is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist. She lives in Ohio.