Note to readers: my photo challenge post is here!Do you notice that when you see a picture like this of fat people their faces are almost never shown? I wonder if this is to preserve a sense of their privacy or whether it's to make me feel like maybe this could be me. Here's a thought I'd like to run by you: Are advertising, economics, and obesity related? If so, how?
Advertising: on the one hand, svelte, young, attractive women are shown in ad after ad on TV, because they know that you will pay attention and look. But food ads are, more and more often, using overweight men and humor to pull you in to buy their product. If you notice, beautiful women are used to sell everything but food. Notice how seldom you see an overweight woman in an advertisement for anything except diet aids. If you're a fat woman, you feel discounted. On the other hand, we are seduced into eating food we don't need and we don't really want, but subtle cues pull us in. Oh, they're good.
I moved to Bellingham, Washington from Boulder, Colorado. One of the first things I noticed is that the people here are definitely larger than they are in Boulder. Of course, Boulder has more athletic and outdoorsy people than most places. And up here the winters are long and people are not as active as they might be. But there's something more: there seems to be a greater acceptance of being bigger. You just don't see really big people walking around the streets in Boulder. Here, it's an everyday occurrence. My "what is normal" meter has been recalibrated.
Economics: Another reason more people are obese is that almost all fast food is extremely fattening and unhealthy, and people on the lower economic rungs of society cannot afford to eat as well. They eat at McDonald's and Taco Bell, while affluent people buy more healthy (and expensive) food. Anyone who has seen the movie Super Size Me knows what a diet of McDonald's food did to that poor man in just one month. It's very expensive to live in Boulder, so maybe people are more well off. I know we couldn't afford to retire there.
Obesity: Anyone who reads these days knows it's become an epidemic. To qualify as being obese, you need to have a BMI over 30. To calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI), several different websites are available, but this one is my favorite, because it allows to you compare yourself to other people who are the same age and sex as you. At 5'3", I would need to weigh 170 lbs. to be considered obese (my current BMI is 23, and boy do I work at it!).
When you don't feel good about yourself, it's so tempting to reward yourself with food, and so begins the vicious cycle that keeps so many of us in prisons of our own making. But there is a way out: take one small step. Start exercising, just a little bit to start, like walking around the block. And become willing to feel your feelings and allow yourself to see what a little hunger feels like. Just a little bit. My tendency is to try to fix things by doing too much too soon, and then getting discouraged. A little exercise and a little hunger can go a long way.
This has all been on my mind lately because I'm trying to lose a few pounds in order to get into a pair of jeans that stubbornly won't fit. I refuse to buy new ones, and every couple of weeks I take my favorite jeans out of the closet and try them on, to see if I am any closer. It's a good incentive builder. Still have a ways to go.