You're following some supermodels, celebrities, fitness models, personal trainers and other women with slammin' bodies on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Do you find the images motivate you to eat better and work out harder, or do they make you less happy with your body and want to go on a crash diet?
I have a beautiful network of girlfriends, each unique in her shape, size and sex appeal. Some of them are naturally thin. Some of them are incredibly fit. Some of them even struggle to put weight on. Does that mean they deserve a little public jeering because they don't struggle to maintain a certain dress size?
We have made body image more important than body function. You can be healthy, beautiful and happy at any size. You can be unhealthy and unhappy at any size as well. If our children hear us say all that matters is health, but see us with fitness magazines on our coffee tables and weight-loss products in our cupboards, what message do they really get?
When I was a teenager and well into my twenties, women encountered similar pressures both on television and in print. The difference is that now we can't just blame corporate advertisers for showing unrealistic body proportions. This time, it's real people teaching other real girls how to strive for and achieve these (at times) unhealthy body sizes.
How an individual perceives him/herself is either a real or distorted view of who they believe they really are, not always who they actually are, or how others see them for that matter. People either develop a positive or a negative self-image based upon their perception of a past experience or event. Therefore, an individual's strengths and weaknesses are a direct manifestation of how a person evaluates themselves.
We set a dangerous precedent when we give tens of millions of views to videos so obviously phony as that one. We make it worse when we then invite the people who make them to go on TV and pretend they're somehow authentic. We wind up telling people that simply being a jerk is a viable talent to be paraded around.
Last week, a self-proclaimed 'comedian' from Canada posted a video rant to YouTube titled "Dear Fat People." I had the dubious pleasure of seeing it in its entirety, and it was really really hard to watch -- not only because of the sheer cruelty spewing from this woman's mouth, but also because I felt embarrassed for her thinking she was being 'helpful' to overweight people.
Whenever I dropped weight it was stunning how people suddenly started speaking with me again at family functions and started acknowledging my existence. Of course, whilst they pressured me to devour the high fat food they had prepared. Instead of boosting my confidence, it reminded me that people can be fickle jerks.
I was on the beach, happy to be alone. I was minding my own business, which is not allowed when one is fat. It's everyone's business. A beautiful redhead jogged past me wearing a pink string-thing. In a soft voice, she introduced herself as Melissa, and then said she hoped I wouldn't be offended. I work for a diet company and we have these amazing appetite suppressants..."