Let me start this off by saying...if you don't like what I have written, too bad. I believe in what follows, and I'm not writing it to offend or stir the pot or be holier than thou.
Three years ago I gave up smoking. I went from 30 a day to 0. I did it over night, no patches no gum, I read Allen Carr's book and what he said made sense to me so I just stopped. I was also going through some major shit in my life. My diet was crazy, my drinking daily, I wasn't sleeping, my enthusiasm for life was nil.
On the 15th of January that year I stood on the scales of my bathroom in my old house and looked down hopefully. The scales said I weighed nearly 12 stone. I was not surprised.
I decided there and then to do something about everything.
Dove are doing an new advert at the moment aimed at'Real Women' and by extension their real wallets and real money. Cleverly enough, they are now aiming their lazer sharp advertising skills at the insecurities of little girls and beating the drum of 'Ah, look everybody just wants to be loved for what they are. Buy Dove, we will love your mo -er you no matter what shape and size you come in." It is driven by the 'Dove Self-Esteem board.'
Here is one of the letters about the new ad.
"Thank you so much for having this ad during the superbowl, Dove. It was a refreshing counter to ads such as the burgerking one that can be seen at whopperettes.com where women are so objectified. The first step to making women feel proud of their bodies is to stop promoting an unatainable body image ideal."
The word I dislike there is 'unatainable' this woman has bought into the victim game at the very first hurdle! Nice.
Dove are clever sods and this ad panders to the we are all 'real' codswallop they've been shoving down our respective throats for a while now. Over the last few years Dove have had a poster campaign and advert featuring larger-than-the-average-model ladies to promote everything form underarm sprays to a cellulite cream...all fine and slightly hypocritical of them- if it's 'okay to be large', why is it not okay to have cellulite?
The ads have, of course, been applauded by the mainstream for depicting 'real women' instead of models, who clearly are not women at all but some kind of tree.
A new gym is being introduced to Ireland -land of the rapaidly expanding waistline- The ad 'Curves Gym, a gym for real women' is being widely broadcasted on the television, radio and papers.
(No men allowed for the ladies, laughable really as women are far more critical of each other than any man)
But I digress.
A quote from my -fat- mother on Sunday over brunch: ' I don't worry about my weight any more, there are so many other real concerns in the world. Anyway, real women have curves.'
I put down my fork. 'But you have very high blood pressure. YOur own doctor said to lose weight.'
'Well, we don't really know that it is connected to my weight now do we?'
'Er, I'm fairly certain of you lost about 4 stone it would come down some.'
'My faith healer thinks my blood pressure is connected to my emotions.'
'It is connected to your heart struggling to pump blood through arteries clogged with fat.
'I don't want to talk about it any more. You are such a cynic!'
I am at fault! This is how 'the real woman' backs out of the discussion. Name calling, aggression.
But it got me to thinking.
What is this sudden glut of 'real women' and where did they come from? Were there no 'real women' before now? What was there instead? Fakes? Clones? Robots?
And why 'real'? I am sick of hearing the expression 'real women have curves'. What is the suggestion here? You can't be a real woman if you're not curvy? What is curvy? I have curves, but I don't come under the heading 'curvy' because I am not heavy enough. What does that say about acceptance?
"Big and beautiful, strong and empowered! Fat and beautiful. Real women are taking back their power."
Lines like this are becoming commonplace in the media. Blogs like www.bigfatblog.com are racking up the readership as more and more people, especially women, are gaining weight. And if you raise a concerned voice you are villified, mocked, shouted down because...well, you don't understand what being a 'real woman' is about.
(It is interesting to note they are particularly vicious when a previously heavy person, e.g. Kirtey Alley, loses weight, almost as though she 'sold out.' So much for size acceptance!)
Since when does being fat equal being powerful? How does being unable to climb a flight of stairs without feeling winded equal being empowered?
If you want to be strong and empowered, get fit, know that your body can answer and respond to any demand you put on it. For me that is being strong! Trust your body not to let you down. That is empowered. Walk with real confidence because you know you look and feel good. Not the aggressive faux confidence of a woman who feels it is her right to be desirable no matter how she looks. Who demands you find her attractive! I'm sorry sister, but being desirable is not a right, no matter how many people say it is.
I am not for one second talking about physical features here, people are attracted to all sorts of things, I like hazel eyes and dark haird men who are taller than me, my best friend like blonds with blue eyes and couldn't care less how tall they were.
But neither of us are attracted to fat men. I'm sorry, that sounds harsh, but it is absolutely true. He could be the sweetest most intelligent person in the world, but if he is obese, then neither of us would consider him romantically. Does that make us shallow? Perhaps, but that does not alter our thinking.
It is not PC of course to say that, but like I said at the start I am not aiming for PC. To even the Steven, I asked my male friends the same question, would you date a fat woman? The resounding answer, to the man, was no.
People claiming that obeseity is a desease get on my wick too. Obeseity is not a disease, it is a symptom of a lifestyle. Junk food is cheap and in ready supply, people are more and more sedentary, the problem creeps up over a number of years. But there is a solution... one that fat people deny, argue violently against, grow incensed, dismiss you as an idiot, bigot, hateful creep if you even dare suggest it...you want to know what it is?
Eat less, exercise more.
Huh? What's that? No miracle cure? No tablets, no stomach stapling, no shakes, no Atkins, no GI, no clubs, no-no-no-excuses? But that can't be right, can it?
Sorry, but there is no quick fix. And it is time people stopped buying into the idea that weight gain is somehow not their fault, that they are powerless to prevent it.
When I decided to do something about everything one of the first things I did was research into weight loss and fitness. Every single thing I read indicated to me that dieting is useless, so I didn't go there. I did however alter how and what I ate. Naturally thin people eat more or less what ever they want. But, and it is a big but, in moderation, they also eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full, not exactly rocket science, but to a woman who can eat rings around her when bored it was a revelation.
Do I eat chocolate? Sure; cheese, yum; white bread, of course; butter, mmmmmhhh; chips, lovely; beer, on Friday.
What I don't do is eat this type of food every day or in vast quantities when I do.
I made simple changes, I steam veggies, I grill meat, I eat fish twice or three times a week, I eat tons of vegetables, I eat a lot of eggs, I don't drink alochol during the week at all, I drink a lot of water and I don't eat after seven in the evening.(for some reason that last one makes a big difference to my body)
But the main reason I lost weight?
One hour of cardio a day, weight training three times a week, kickboking class once a week. I take the stairs to my apartment some days: it is six floors, but hey, good for the gluts.
It might sound like a lot, but when it is spread out over the week it isn't.
That hour, or class, is my commitment, my commitment to my body. It is not a chore or a pain, it is me taking care of the most valuable tool I will ever be in charge of, making sure it is running as well as I can make it run. It is empowerment. I feel great, I am in better shape than I was in my twenties. I look good naked. Feeling good gives me confidence, and that spills over into other aspects of my life.
I don't need to demand people accept me, they either will or they won't. I'm not growing bitter because "dammit people should love me no matter what shape I"m in." The world does not work the way women, expecially 'real women' want it to work. I am 5' 10 inches, I weigh 140 pounds and I too am a 'real woman'! And I am growing increasingly resentful of suggestions that I am not.
If you are genuinely happy and unapologetically fat, go for it, but most peole are not happy with how they look. It is time to face reality, the 'real' reality. If you want to feel good about yourself feel good, but if you let your body go and you become fat, don't get mad when not everyone pats you on the back and basks in the glow of your 'realness.'
And if you want to change, you and only you can do it.
All that ranting leads me to... my blogging friend Mr Kim Ayres over at http://losingcwt.blogspot.com/ has this week slipped under the 200 pound line, meaning he has lost the grand total of 76 pounds! Kim is a man who decided to change his entire life, including his weight and actually had the balls to do it. Now that is what I call real empowerment.