Thursday, March 25, 2010

I'd rather the skirt.

I am taking the quote below entirely out of context. I love reading Raina's blog and the linked post is a wonderful example of why. This passage jumped out at me today and I've been thinking about it bunches since. To be clear, I'm using this statement as a jumping off point for thoughts about myself. No one else.

Some of us would rather be fit, strong and healthy and put less priority on what our body looks like. I have shifted to 'what can my body do' rather than 'what does my body look like' and I am quite happy there, thank you very much.

I am pretty much the polar opposite of this statement. I wonder if I'll ever feel how she feels? Do I need to feel that way? I am quite happy where I am too. I have my own standards of beauty and style that work for me. I never feel like I'm not good enough when it comes to how my body looks (except the knee), naked or clothed, pre or post plastics. Giving it some thought I'd say this statement holds true from 240 pounds on down.

There are however, many days I feel like I am not a good enough weight loss success because I don't work out. Because I don't focus on what my body can do. It's amazing to me that I still feel pressure to live up to a societal norm even when I've gotten to where I need to be. The expectation that someone who has lost a lot of weight and kept it off by embracing her inner athlete, by being that woman who has changed her body into something powerful, strong and capable is something I am not immune to. I have thoughts of inadequacy all the time when it comes to my success because I choose to focus on the vanity, on the looking good.

Putting on a pair of gym shorts is literally painful, I'd rather the skirt.


screaming fatgirl said...

I think age and life circumstances have a lot to do with whether or not one focuses on health or appearance. Younger people (and at 33, you are still "young") and people who are interested in lifetime partnerships of some type but have not yet found one are far more likely to focus on appearance. That's not to say that marriage or other types of informal partnering make people stop taking care of their appearance, but rather that you no longer feel the same pressure to devote so much energy to keeping it up (and it does take so much time and energy).

Some day, you will care more about health than beauty, but that's likely to take another decade for you. And I want to be clear that it isn't about any sort of "wisdom" acquired through age, but rather about a change in priorities based on age and a recognition that beauty is rapidly something you cannot achieve based on societal definitions of what it is. It is a rare average woman over the age of 50 who is actually considered "beautiful".

It's fair to expect some people to focus on appearance and others to focus on health, and the most important thing is for others not to judge them for their priorities which have nothing to do with anyone else. To each their own.

Marshmallow said...

Whatever size you are, and whatever you do, you are entitled to respect. You shouldn't ever feel pressured to work out, just because other people are. Your decision is your decision. If it doesn't match mine, so what? Everyone's motivation is a very personal thing. I chose to switch from 'what it looks like' because no matter how much I tried, I always looked the same. It was unfair on myself that I was in tears after doing a triathlon because after 12 weeks of training, I hadn't lost any weight and was still the same dress size. If it's not the same for you, it's no big deal. You don't ever need to feel obliged in any way to live up to any particular standard. I happen to want to be more of an athlete in terms of what I can do because I want to pursue a career in it. That's not everyone's goal, so you shouldn't ever feel the need to achieve someone else's goal.

Your goals are yours. :-)

Sarah said...

@SFG I am married. Have been for almost 4 years now. I met the man who I married almost 9 years ago now (gah! has it been that long?) when I was nearly 100 pounds heavier. I'm pretty sure it is not what I look like that is important to him. Besides like I said, I have my own definitions of beauty, never will society tell me that I am not good enough. And if they do, screw them. Every one is entitled to their opinion, I'm just not going to agree. I know at 50 I still walk out my door with head held high.
As for health I care about it a great deal. I won't go into it here, but my system doesn't work the way it should sometimes. Scary and frustrating, but I eat well and leave it at that. It's fitness that I struggle with which is basically what this post is about, Maybe if I wasn't in so much pain I would embrace it the way others have.

Raina, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. :c) I've been thinking about this post for a while and yesterday was a rough day for me. Those two sentences captured exactly how I feel about myself and my body currently. And I know I don't need to achieve any one else's goals... sometimes it just gets a little lonely being one of the only few for whom fitness isn't one of them.

Loved your post by the way, send him the link? The only way to get people to be less judgmental is to call them out on it.

Sarah said...

That should say that I hope at 50 I'll still walk out the door with my head held high.

Also, my mom at 58 is the most beautiful woman I know.

Anonymous said...

Just as you have succeeded at weight loss and at keeping it off, I imagine you will overcome this internalized tyranny which bothers you from time to time.

I really appreciate that you are sharing this particular aspect of maintenance because I am just starting to lose weight again after a plateau lasting years and for complicated reasons I won't go into here I am limited in the amount of physical activity I can pursue.(Um, does something that long still qualify as a plateau?) When I read about the amount of gym related or running related activities that some bloggers describe I am almost dumbfounded. Part of me wishes I could do all those amazing workouts and part of me is relieved that my body refuses...I suspect I might have become an exercise bulimic (if that's the right term) or exercise junkie (you know, to the point where it becomes obsessive/compulsive and unhealthy).

Meh. I hope that makes sense.


Maybe the following link will help put some things in perspective for you. If not, feel free to delete it and my comments here with no hard feelings on my part. The linked article is moving and well written, but the comments that follow it are perhaps even more eloquent and also speak so beautifully about the kinds of internalized inadequacy that women who were fat as children often carry with them. When I read the many comments, I thought of you and wondered if maybe some of the childhood cultural messages you picked up long ago (about overweight kids as athletes) were lingering for you.


Sarah said...

Thanks Robin, I've been over there, I'll give the link a read. Mostly this is about pain. :c(

♥ Kenz ♥ said...

You know I work out for a couple of hours almost every day. And, for me, it's part of the process. But I can't imagine anyone telling you that you're wrong. You've already done it, and you're maintaining quite well. Forget societal norms..I'm with you there.

You are beautiful and strong even if your knee would disagree. I think you're fantastic, and you know I'm right.