Wallis Simpson has been quoted as saying that “you can never be too rich or too thin”. I can’t comment about the former as much as I would love to be able to speak from experience but when it comes to being too thin, you can very definitely be too thin.
I understand the irony of this post coming straight after one that is about my desire to lose weight and th purpose of Operation Fit and Fabulous but I actually think that, in a way, the two go together quite well. One of the reasons I like Operation Fit and Fabulous as a concept is because it is about the whole person rather than just the external packaging. One of our first missions is being kind to ourselves which is something we all could do a bit more of. How often do we all feel that we aren’t pretty enough, clever enough, thin enough, fit enough…. I could go on but I guess you see the point.
The reason I’m writing this is that I’ve seen a series of increasingly worrying photos of LeAnn Rimes, Ali Lohan and Kate Bosworth- they are worryingly thin. LeAnn Rimes has apparently struck back at her critics stating that she feels she is healthy and people need to stop focusing on how much she eats but unfortunately if you live your life in the public eye then I’m afraid you can’t decide you want certain things left undiscussed.
I had hoped that after all the furore over size zero a few years ago that this idea of being thin at all costs would have blown over and people would have worked out that being ultra-skinny is neither healthy not attractive. After all, once upon a time a bloke once informed me when I said that I wanted to lose weight (this was back in my skinny days when I probably weighed all of about 8st) that men would much rather have Kate Winslet than Kate Moss. On top of that, a bit of body fat is not only essential for good health but once you get past the age of about 35 it’s actually much more flattering than being ultra-skinny as it plumps out those fine lines (of course this is for those of us who don’t have the plastic surgeon on speed dial for Botox and fillers). But if you look at what the biological effects of that bit extra body fat are, you will see why it is equally as unhealthy to have a too-low body fat percentage as a too-high one.
One of the women who has famously suffered the effects of eating too little is Gwyneth Paltrow who has, despite her relatively young age, been diagnosed with osteopenia, a precursor to osteoporosis. Whilst this could have a genetic component, given Paltrow’s history of radical diets such as eating a macrobiotic diet and the infamous maple syrup diet (consisting of a lot of water, maple syrup (maybe 12 tablespoons a day, not a lot), lemon juice and cayenne pepper, this is likely to be the major factor in her disease.
But why do we do this to ourselves? I fully admit I’ve done a few silly diets in my time but I am not entirely sure why women like Paltrow and Rimes do this to themselves. I can at least claim that with a BMI stating that I am overweight dieting is logical for me but these women are tiny. They don’t need to diet. In fact the only diet they need to be on is one that ensures they get enough calories to support whatever exercise they are doing.
So why do we do it? What is the lure in being so thin? It’s certainly not because it’s what the majority of men prefer. If you look at FHM’s all time top 100 women (OK this was actually compiled in 2008 but the principle still stands) the top ten goes Louise Redknapp, Cameron Diaz, Kylie Minogue, Pamela Anderson, Carmen Electra, Kelly Brook, Jennifer Aniston, Dannii Minogue, Britney Spears and Jordan. These women would all be classed as slim, maybe even thin, but there is not a waif among them. And there are several who are renowned and in fact positively notorious for their curves.
So where does this pressure to be thin come from? And the awful, dreadful, hideous and only conclusion I can come to is that it comes from us. It comes from other women. How many times have we seen magazine articles saying “look how hideous so and so looks in a bikini”, that someone has put on masses of weight or someone else has lost masses of weight. One day we’re too fat and the next we’re too thin and what it boils down to in many women’s minds (and I do include myself in there) is that we have to look perfect in order to be accepted.
The thing is, we don’t have to look perfect. No-one does look perfect. Speak to any one of those women I listed above and they will have some of the same hangups the rest of us do. None of us are completely satisfied with the picture in the mirror. But the difference is accepting the picture in the mirror. Not everyone is born to be a size eight. Almost no-one is born to be a size zero although there are a couple of rare examples floating around. And in accepting what we see in the mirror we will accept the other women in our lives and not project our own insecurities on to the others around me.
So girls, what do you think? Can we stop judging each other and accept ourselves for who we are? Or is this a bit much to ask?
Average Josephine x