Predictably, gossip columnist Ros Reines has once again taken aim at my appearance (Sunday Telegraph, 8 January) because I do not fit her perception of what is healthy.
Anyone who follows Reines on social media knows that she herself is engaged in a weight-loss regime.
I would like to offer her my congratulations on her success, as it’s a tough row to hoe if you do need to lose weight to improve your health, or appearance, or self-esteem, or for whatever reason. It takes commitment and sacrifice, and I admire people with the tenacity to do it. And she is well within her rights to feel great about that and to comment on it publicly.
However, it fascinates me that my health can be commentated by someone who has absolutely no medical data on me (besides a picture of me in my swimmers – oh hang on, that’s not medical data). Not my blood pressure, my fitness, physical strength, activity levels, stress levels, alcohol or drug consumption, genetic predispositions or socio-economic circumstances – all of which contain health predictors*. Even my weight is an unknown piece of medical data.
But then, there’s no point letting the facts stand in the way of a good sledging.
It is well and truly time that we stopped approaching health with a cookie-cutter mentality – as in, thinner = healthier, larger = unhealthier. Of course, obesity is unhealthy. So is anorexia. So is heroin addiction – but hey, you can really get thin that way.
Using size as the only indicator to someone’s health is facile. It’s also dangerous as young girls opt for radical diet and drug options to be thin and fit the media’s portrayal of health and beauty.
Being thin and unfit has been found to more dangerous to health than being overweight but fit.**
We are simply not all made to be the same height, have the same eyes or teeth or hair, the same amount of muscle, the same intelligence, and on and on. It is shallow to suggest that we are all the same in body type and only people who overeat and are lazy might be bigger than a magazine model.
Why did I get in my cozzies for New Idea (Jan 2)? I did it for all the little teapots out there – short and stout.
And for anyone else who feels judged critically by other people. We should all be able to be comfortable in our own skin despite what uninformed media commentators write. I celebrate the differences between people. I try very hard not to judge people by the way they look – because nobody knows anyone else’s full story.
As far as what I owe to myself and my children, I owe them food that is cooked from scratch, using as many fresh ingredients and as few additives as possible. I owe them mealtimes around the family table. I owe them the very best of myself, which includes (but is not limited to) keeping myself healthy via plenty of exercise, fresh air, fresh food and laughter. I owe them a broad world view and an education that includes how to be a compassionate human being. I owe them a safe home and a community surrounding them that loves them.
And I owe it to them to be self-confident and self-loving so that they can feel the same no matter whether or not they end up looking like Brad Pitt.
I am grateful to my body for the three children it has given me, for its strength and ability to work long hard hours, and for its robust good health. Yes, robust good health. According to the hard medical data.
Sure, one day I may drop dead of a heart attack or contract cancer. Or be the victim of some terrible random accident or evil event. Or go peacefully at a ripe old age surrounded by people who love me. We all will, one way or another. But until then I will live my life as fully and joyfully as each day allows, with the body God gave me in all its magnificent imperfection.
*http://www.aihw.gov.au/risk-factors/ – Authoritative information and statistics
to promote better health and wellbeing. This government website states that risk factors to health ” do not operate in isolation. They often coexist and interact with one another.” And that overweight/obesity is a biomedical risk factor which “may be influenced by a combination of genetic, lifestyle and other broad factors.”
** http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/19/health/19well.html This is one of many articles citing studies showing that being overweight but fit is healthier than being unfit and thin. Compelling reading for those interested in the facts.