I have always been tall & slender. I take after my Dad’s side in that way. We come from strong German stock with fast metabolisms. As a kid, I was always gangly thin up until I’d say my early 20’s when I started to fill out a little bit. However, at 31 years old I’m still tall & thin at 5’8″ and 120lbs (Yes, I just told you how much I weigh).
That being said, I have been harassed and hounded about my weight many times throughout my life. Inappropriate questions come flying at me all the time: how much do I weigh, do I have an eating disorder, how much do I eat, what am I eating, do I exercise, do I exercise too much, am I depressed (because apparently being too thin equates depression?) – all of which you would not dare ask anyone much less someone who is overweight because it’s offensive and would hurt their feelings and is down right nobody’s business. Yet, because I am thin and don’t have to work hard at being thin, there has to be something wrong with me and since I am apparently the size many people who are overweight strive for I should somehow be okay with having people ask me intimate, personal questions about my body. We all seem to focus on the insensitivity of calling overweight people fat, but the flip side happens as well and is just as hurtful and painful.
When I was pregnant with my daughter I gained exactly the recommended amount of weight and at every doctor’s visit my belly measured exactly the size it should. However, I was constantly told how small I look and how tiny my belly was and oh my gosh have you gained any weight!? One of my mom’s friends had the audacity to ask me how much weight I had gained and if I was eating enough. She also asked me, at 7 months pregnant, if I was seeing a qualified OB-GYN – like somehow because I was “small” that meant I wasn’t seeking out proper prenatal care. Yeah, folks. Pretty terrible. Are you annoyed yet?
Then why is this awful trend starting with my 18 month old daughter? I can’t tell you how many people make comments about how “small” she is and how “tiny” she is and what size clothing is she in now and does she eat a lot? Just like with my own body and my pregnancy, Amelia’s growth stats are right on par with her age. She is 18 months old and wears 18 month sized clothes. Her weight and head circumference is average and her length is above average. Yet many people swear she’s small for her age. I’d like to point out that her growth stats are no one’s business but ours, but for the sake of my argument I’m divulging this information.
First of all, the size you are is not a topic that should be commented on unless asked and is quite frankly no one else’s business but your own. Secondly, our society has got to stop being so obsessed with the “perfect” body. There is no perfect body. Every body is different and beautiful. We should celebrate that instead of striving for the Victoria’s Secret body (which is beautiful in it’s own right, but it’s not the only beautiful body type).
And finally, let’s take a moment and talk about our food culture in this country. I have been blessed with a tall, thin frame and a fast metabolism, but I also don’t eat garbage. I have chosen to live in a city that prides itself on being a part of the slow food and buy local movement. Asheville, NC is littered with health food stores and non-chain restaurants. If you want fast food or Applebee’s you have to look for it because it’s not in your face here. I don’t eat fast food and neither does my daughter not because I have to avoid it but because we just don’t like it. We eat fresh fruit & vegetables, lean meats, whole grains, and the like. A wise friend of mine once said “you are what you eat and you crave what you eat” which couldn’t be a truer statement. Since we don’t eat fast food we don’t crave it. I literally crave salads all the time. I crave water and not soda. I crave healthy foods because that’s what I feed my body. My daughter eats a wide range of foods. She eats kale and brussel sprouts and quinoa and spinach. Of course, she loves some mac n cheese, but that’s a dish we eat sparingly.
I understand that much of the country is not like the town I live in. That fast food restaurants are the norm, processed foods are staples, fruit & veggies are canned, and soda is consumed like it’s water. This is why we have an overweight society and it’s quite frankly heartbreaking. It’s heartbreaking that kids start their lives off eating this way. It’s heartbreaking that some adults just don’t know any better when it comes to food and nutrition because they haven’t been exposed to anything else. Food deserts are awful and criminal. For those of you unfamiliar with that term, the USDA defines a food desert “as a low-income census tract where a substantial number or share of residents has low access to a supermarket or large grocery store.” In urban areas “low access” is defined as 1+ miles from a grocery store and for rural areas it’s 10+ miles. We should all be appalled that such a thing exists in this country, the land of plenty.
Here is a map of food deserts in the US. You see the green boxes? Those are food deserts. Yeah. The country is littered with them. Soak this in. It feels icky doesn’t it?
Such a food culture breeds health problems and obesity. We are all extremely weight conscious, which has it’s pros and cons, and for my daughter and I we are picked a part because we are not an unhealthy weight which is unfortunately not the norm. Let’s be blunt and honest, we are an obese country and it’s terrible.
Every size is beautiful so long as the inside is healthy and nourished. We must change the food culture in this country. It’s killing us. Literally. I feel grateful to be in a position and place where I can give my daughter a positive and healthy food start in life. I wish this were the case for everyone. Unfortunately, it’s not.