A Reality Check on Weight, Clothing Size and Self Esteem

May 16th, 2012

Heavily anorexic from prescription migraine therapy, this photo of me at Coney Island shows how unhealthy the American concept of beauty is.

Heavily anorexic from prescription migraine therapy, this photo of me from September 11th, 2010 at Coney Island shows how unhealthy the American concept of beauty is.

Summer is coming and with it, our thoughts turn to warmer days, picnics, and especially time by the pool or at the beach. Probably more than any other time of the year, women start measuring themselves, getting on the scales, and worrying about their weight, dress size, and measurements. It can be no wonder that one of the largest growing industries today involves health and weight loss. In fact, you are hard pressed to turn on the television for any length of time without seeing advertisements for one weight loss product or service or another, television programs advising us how to lose weight and inches, or other messages that resonate “you are not good enough as you are; you need to change your body.” Some of these messages even veil themselves with the language of health. Everyone buys into these images-female and male-believing that if we are not a size 2 we must be fat. The reality is quite to the contrary as I learned when discontinuing years of prescription Topomax for my migraine. On Topomax, my weight plummeted to just 85 to 88 lbs on a 5’3″ frame. The combination of Topomax with my existing brain injury meant I had never developed physically; the accident hit at the start of puberty. I was so thin I could not climb stairs to the subway, exercise, or even sit without pain. Yet I was the “right” size according to countless people, an ideal! My body was frozen to age 14, at least on the surface. Upon switching treatments in 2011, my body quickly righted itself to 128 lbs and a size 12. Yet I feel fat for my increase in dress size. But the problem is not with my numbers. It is with society’s concept of what a proper and healthy body looks like. Adult women are not supposed to have pre-pubescent bodies! We are supposed to weigh more, have larger dimensions. That is what it means to be fully grown! Celebrities look the way they do because they do horribly unhealthy things to their body. They starve themselves. They exercise many more hours than a normal person can. They surgically alter themselves. They endanger their health for short-term gains. Does that mean that some people do not eat to excess or eat poorly? Of course not. But our focus needs to return to the balanced diet we all learned as children. As long as we pursue balance and eat whole, healthy, fresh foods in moderation, we are healthy! The number on the scale or our dress size is far less important! It is time to abandon Hollywood’s idea of who we should be and start enjoying who we are.

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