By: Vivienne Vella, Co-Founder & Co-Owner of Soupure
RETHINKING OUR BEST
Being in the healthy living business, it is no surprise we want to help our customers achieve their weight loss goals. But, we also believe in healthy attitudes toward weight and weight loss. Sure, we want our customers to look their best. But is our “best” realistic? Is there a reason we need to be the size/weight we were in our 20s? Why do we (particularly women) compare ourselves to younger models in magazines whose shapes have clearly been photo-shopped? Are the goals society sets for us the right ones? And, is it time to redefine what we are fighting for?
Let’s face it. Women are socialized (at least in the western world) to be “perfect.” Men, on the other hand, are socialized (by and large) to be brave, ambitious, and financially successful. The images and messages we are bombarded with starting at a very young age convey that skinny beautiful people are happy and successful. This constant immersion into what society seems to value makes “skinny = happy” hardwired into our brains. Society no longer conveys that curvy and round at the edges is a sign of beauty. Never before has society been so obsessed with being thin at any cost, even if that cost means drinking only lemonade and water for a protracted time, overusing laxatives, or taking even more extreme measures. In a 1997 survey published in Psychology Today 15 per cent of women and 11 per cent of men shockingly said they would give up five years of life to be slim.  In the UK documentary, Skinny Kids, pre-pubescent children, some as young as six, say they want to lose weight! A slim seven-year-old says that she is the only one in her class with fat legs. The documentary shows girls at a very young age mimicking their mothers by wearing high-heels, practicing flirting in front of the mirror and putting on make-up (helped by their mothers). Like it or not, and intentional or not, the culture of “thin = happy” is passed down by parents and the society in which we live, whether or not we are aware of it. And, this is now happening earlier and earlier with the rise of programming and digital content propagating this message. Children now are so aware and connected to the world around them; it is the world in the magazines we, as mothers, read and the programming we, as mothers, watch. It is the world of the Kardashians. Our children might be emotionally young still, but they are savvy. So savvy, in fact, that their childhood is quickly passing them by. They reflect the societal values and pressures that are on them. They assume all women diet. That is what society tells them.
Obviously sheltering ourselves and our kids from all societal messages seems to be an overwhelming task. But, perhaps if we redefine what we are fighting for we also re-define it for the younger generation around us. Is our “best” fitting into the same jeans we wore in our 20s? Or, perhaps, we accept that as we get older our body may actually need and benefit from a little extra weight. As style icon, Iman, explained in Net-A-Porter’s digital magazine, The Edit, “In the west, we have become accustomed to needing to lose weight, right? But as we get older, for women especially, it makes us look a little haggard. So my consolation about . . . [extra] weight is that it’s given me a fresh face and I actually feel happier and healthier. The rest of it, I’m sitting on it!” And, if our daily behavior is a reflection to our children and ourselves of what is our “best”, perhaps when we decide to lose weight, we do it (and use words to speak about to our children) in a realistic, mindful and healthy way. (I like to tell my daughter I am “eating clean” and that I am trying to give my body what it needs to be healthy.) And, when we decide to lose weight, we choose a program that serves, rather than breaks down, our bodies. That program should focus on healthy eating, real food, superfoods and whole foods. Fad diets which starve our bodies are not only not good for us, but they ultimately defeat our purposes and help perpetuate the very dangerous messages to our children which we so desperately want to avoid.
One step at a time. Change the things we think about and what we think about will change – for ourselves and for those we love.