Thursday, March 21, 2013

Newsflash: Being Skinny Isn’t Everything. Sometimes It’s Nothing at All.

These days, women are told to be perfect. And perfect means skinny.

Perfect means toned and fit and flat. It means having a pair of size 4 “fat jeans” and sacrificing everything to look the way somebody else says to look.

Because to be truly skinny is to be truly happy. So say the misogynists in Hollywood, and the fashion industry’s men who don’t like women and women who don’t like themselves, and Michelle Obama, who believes that her opinion is the only one to be had.

Except that it isn’t the only opinion to be had, as Jen Larsen found out the hard way.

Back when she weighed 300 pounds, Larsen decided to undergo weight-loss surgery, thinking that it would be a cure-all for her life. Her doctor fed into that utopic vision with stupid questions like, “It’ll be nice to be able to walk down the aisle of an airplane, right? To fit down the aisle and to not see that look of horror when someone sees you coming?”

Say what?

I don’t know about you, but I’m not filled with “horror” when I see a 300-pound person. I’m actually much more likely to feel something along those lines when I see somebody who has no business being a size 0. I’m not trying to be mean when I say this, but anorexia is not attractive.

Neither is a society hell-bent on thinking that physical “perfection” is the key to a healthy life.

Physical anything isn’t the key to anything when we’re so much more than just physical creatures. As Larsen discovered while losing 180 pounds, “I was skinny, but my life wasn’t suddenly and magically perfect – and that completely astonished me. It sounds ridiculous, having really fallen for the fairy tale of weight loss. But I had fallen for it completely, and then was blinded by the egregious lack of a happily ever after…

“The problem was that I lost all those pounds, but I didn’t have to change a thing about my self. I didn’t have to address any of the emotional or psychological issues. I didn’t have to figure out why I had been depressed – why I was still so, so depressed, despite the fact that the one thing I thought had been ruining my life was suddenly gone.”

Clearly, being skinny isn’t a cure-all, in small part because being skinny isn’t always attractive, and much more importantly because God is the only factor that can really complete us.

God. Not some fickle, demanding, over-opinionated, worthless societal view of perfection.

Hollywood and the fashion industry and Michelle Obama can all disagree with me on this issue all they want. But my guess is that, at the end of the day, I – with my size 10 pants and my God who doesn’t base his approval on my physical “perfection” – am going to be the one who leads the more fulfilling life.

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