Monday, February 23, 2009

Is Fat an F-Word?

Chikki's post on a woman's concern over an advertisement for a low calories cereal made me wonder how much are we affected by the way our advertisers want us to look.

The pressure is not to look good, but to look a certain way. Fair and Thin. Perfect teeth. All fine except that there are a lot of good looking people who do not fall into this set mold.

Some of these advertisements can make our lives revolve around our weight loss. And our children will grow up believing thin(not healthy) is beautiful. A perfectly healthy woman can be made to feel too fat if she does not fit a certain size. It starts with 'thin is healthy', although being too thin or even undernourished, is not any healthier than being too fat.

It isn't really about being beautiful either, because many women are not skinny and they look great. (Including Jenifer Lopez, Lindsay Lohan, Mumtaz, many of our older film stars.)

Why then are we so obsessed with being thin?
I think it is just a trend. Today we wonder at the Chinese binding their little girls feet, or at corsets that made Victorian women forever breathless (And gave Scarlett O'Hara her famous 17" waist).
Nature couldn't possibly have meant all women (men too) to be the same size?!

Years from today our future generations will talk abut how women were coerced to starve and look anorexic (or be anorexic) and fit into standard sized clothes.

What can be more beautiful than good health?
Good health would mean you can run up a flight of stairs without feeling out of breath. Good health does not mean being size zero.

And good health with good grooming can make anybody look their best. Without having to starve for it.

53 comments:

Winnie the poohi said...

I agree!

I am fat.. and yet am totally comfortable with my skin body etc..

And yet when I started having issues simply walking.. thats when I thought of losing weight..

I feel .. may be stupidly so.. now that I am fat.. the ppl who r close to me.. are becoz of what i am.. beyond my physical attributes hence more cherishable :)

pink dogwood said...

I agree with you 100 %.

Last time when we were in India, my daughter unfortunately picked up typhoid bug. she went through 8 days of miserable hospital stay in the children's hospital in DC. she couldn't eat anything - she lost 10-15 pounds. Both my daughters are on the big side and people are always suggesting activities for them. Anyways, when a friend came to visit at home she said "oh my God - you have lost so much weight - you look beautiful" - I was speechless. Is that what you say to a 10 year old who has spent 8 miserable days in the hospital that her sickness made her beautiful because she lost weight??? I still get mad when I think about it.

Priyanka said...

You are right, if a person is healthy enough to run up a flight of stairs then he/she will definitely be in good shape, not fat and not anorexic. But as 'healthy enough' is not measurable, we sometimes define it by saying 'I'll exercise my way to lose 10 kgs' or 'I'll eat smaller portions of meals more times a day'- which is actually a very healthy habit, even doctors recommend it.

Indian Home Maker said...

@Winnie the Pooh Unless it is a genuine health concern why even see it as a negative physical attribute?

@Pink Dogwood I would have been mad too! Such statements are so wrong!!!
Why make children build their self esteem on the way they look anyway? We find ordinary looking people brimming with happy self-confidence and strikingly good looking people forever concerned with every pimple/every gram of weight gain or loss ... ... as it is once they are teenagers there will be such worries, we will thank our stars if we have built strong foundations...
I am totally with you on this!

Solilo said...

Just when I was thinking of knocking off couple of pounds to fit into a dress I bought today..you post this IHM. :)):)):))

Isn't Lohan skinny? Or is it Olsen twins? All look same.

Obese and anorexic both are unhealthy. I have seen double plus women claiming that we are big accept us and then dig into huge burgers. Now that is just unhealthy just like those skinny ones who put their finger to tonsils to vomit what they ate.

If you are healthy and you feel good looking at the mirror then you are set. Now let me go drink that soup for dinner.

Indian Home Maker said...

@Priyanka I agree :) So long as one doesn't become overly concerned about being over weight ... so many times we see perfectly healthy women feeling they are fat :(

Indian Home Maker said...

@Solilo LOl @ the soup :))

Mirror I think might lie, I saw this video where the girls sees herself ten kgs bjgger than she actually is!
And even loosing weight to get into a dress would be fine if your self esteem doesn't take a dip just because those two kgs are there :)
I agree over weight is unhealthy, but to loose weight for looking beautiful ...even when you are healthy ...??

Bones said...

As long as one is comfortable in one's own skin and healthy, then it is OK to be thin or fat...
Do men face the same pressure?

Solilo said...

Knocing off pounds when one is healthy is what makes people anorexic and as I said..it is un healthy.

But at the same time I don't accept the argument of huge people that it is okay to be extremely fat and dig into all kind of unhealthy food. Obesity is as scary as anorexics.

Now looking in the mirror here means if you feel confident that is my case. I don't like a huge me. I like a slim and healthy me. So I like to maintain that. Healthy being the key word.

Those who look in the mirror and loose more weight to turn skinny then they have problem just like those huge ones who eat unhealthy food. I see the trend in many young girls these days to have a figure like Barbie. Sad!

Indian Home Maker said...

@Bones Men don't feel the pressure half as much as women do!
Men tend to be more concerned about their health than looks.

Solilo said...

@Bones: Men too face some pressure. I have a obese friend who is mocked by many behind his back. He tries hard by exercising and then feasts on junk food. He just keeps on adding.

Indian Home Maker said...

@Solilo Some women are curvy and look good too, but you find them forever wanting to be thin, because all pretty clothes and fashion shows have skinny models, we start thinking of beautiful as thin, going far enough to say, you 'can never be too think or too rich' ...

I feel one should have to worry about being healthy - and that should be all.

Pixie said...

Making fun of a person's size, weight can be quite demoralising...
and of course, the whole "fair is beautiful" thinking... it gives complexes to young kids and brings up unwanted insecurities which are difficult to deal with and it takes time for it to go away, if those insecurities ever go away at all... I should know - i grew up with that complex because everyone used to compare me with a cousin who is "fair"...

Monika said...

Though I agree with u on the commercialization of it but I think fat and healthy dont really go together its medically proven that fat and obese people are prone to much more problems than thin

i am fat too and trying to reduce weight

MultiMenon said...

Exactly..!!ur damn rite.. :)

Its not oly women who are put to all this trouble,even we men are..am on the higher side and ders quite a lot of pressure from all corners to cum down on it..

I was amazed to hear one of my frnds say--"Dude!!atleast for all the chicks around.. "

C'mon!!Its as u said good health irrespective of the build that matters..and do we give a damn to most others??no rite?? :p

Nice one IHM..wish I knew ur real name..dis space rocks!! :)

Nikhil

Smita said...

:)

I have been trying hard to lose weight not because I am fat but because am overweight and I want to be fit. It is as simple as that.

I have never starved myself because am too much of a foody to do that but then I know that I need to be fit :)

But yes the usual misconceptions are that if you are trying to lose weight you want to be thin....

It isn't usually the case :)

Indian Home Maker said...

@Pixie I totally agree, what's sad is the person might actually be very good looking!

And don't let it bother you, Krishna told Panchali (In Panchali's Mahabharata, you'll love it!) that the world sees us the way we see ourselves. And when we love ourselves, the world loves us too :)

Cleopatra was dark skinned too ...

@lankr1ta said...

I think the emphasis on "good looks" is the cause of this. Good looks whether they be conforming to a body image, a certain facial type, and the contingent things that go with it. "Fat" is just part of the problem. Skin color, hair style, lip, eye, cheekbone shape is all part of it. I think image issues are a part of society, but are emphasized by parents and peers and women just have it worse. Because a srong element of objectification is heavily involved.
"Health" do people really care? For if they did, crash diets would not be as important and people would not want to "take it off" without working for it.

Iya said...

extreme of anything is bad be it obesity or otherwise.. as long as u r comfortable in ur skin, nothing else shud matter...

Indian Home Maker said...

@Nikhil Thank You!!!
:)
No we needn't give a damn! And I have seen enough unhappiness caused by trying to be a certain size - not necessarily the best for that person, after all we are all built different...

Indian Home Maker said...

@Iya Nothing can be as charming as the confidence that comes from being comfortable within your own skin. I totally agree.

Varunavi said...

I agree with u IHM the ads and the heroines play a big part in the psychology.Have we heard of dieting when we were young,we/i never heard of dieting when i was going to school.All the tamil heroines used to fat and people used to like them that way.But things have changed now, thanks to the ads/heroines,now everyone wants to be slim.My sister had that when she started going to college and still suffer for that crazy things she used to do to reduce weight.

Vikas Gupta said...

Agree with you though I myself have been a finicky eater and 'health and body' are almost always doing the rounds in my mind! From boiled sabzi to permanently quitting many unhealthy food, I am doing everything for permanent youth!

When you have time, read my almost jaw-dropping health habits. Click here.

Indian Home Maker said...

@Smita Being fit would be without crash diets, without any herbal medicines and all ... because then we will love our body too much to harm it - which such acts do.
I agree sometimes we confuse wanting to be fit with being thin ...

I have seen your picture you are definitely not fat! And if you walk around with that bag you are also fit :))

shail said...

"Today we wonder at the Chinese binding their little girls feet, or at corsets that made Victorian women forever breathless " Yeah, we wonder about them but never pause to think what we are doing to ourselves, aim to be unnaturally and fashionably thin, which will surely make future generations wonder about us and our obsession. Being healthy is what it should be about.

Rakesh said...

Yup sure, I mean good health anyday over skinny. And I think its just a foolish trend that'll fade away, just like polka dots...

Indian Home Maker said...

@Monika Many people who are trying to loose weight are not medically overweight.

It's fashionable to be thin, and it will take a lot of confidence to refuse to let us believe that if we are fit but not skinny we are still good looking, so many very good looking people people still think they will only look good if they were thinner :(

Many women (men also) believe they must fit in certain size clothes.

Also girls are made to feel, they must look delicate ... though thankfully now even a toned, athletic look is considered pretty!

Pixie said...

yea.. you are absolutely right! :)
It stopped bothering me long back, but sometimes the hurt resurfaces whenever I see pretty little girls being told off my their families because of their complexion...

Indian Home Maker said...

@Shail Yeah and I am sure they will wonder, like Varunavi says Tamil heroines were never skinny and everybody found them beautiful, now suddenly we have stopped seeing any beauty in any shape except some straight lines :)

@Rakesh LOL @ fade away like polka dots!!
:)

@Varunavi I wanted to say the same thing ... couldn't put it in words!!! Absolutely agree ... going for a movie now ... will continue when back :)

mindspace said...

Almost everyone has gotten cautious of health today which is great but some mistakenly link it with being thin. thats where the concern it as u said..
At the same time, being comfortable with oneself might not be enough because over a period of time, one might become comfortable even in their overwgt self in spite of the fact that there are many a things they cant do due to their body type..

I think it should be actually about feeling energetic and healthy. no second thoughts at the flight of stairs is surely a sign of that.

Satyajit said...

Culturally isn't everything in our country about beauty? All South Indian and dark and brain and all north Indians dumb and pretty runs the stereotype. Fair and lovely has the biggest market here.

Healthy is a misunderstood concept. Its all about being thin though u may fall sick all the time. Dont matter.....u look thin.

Aaarti said...

Guess we need to learn the difference between being healthy and being fat...!!!

:)

Chirag said...

IHM, I am in marketing and I too hate all these "Self-Image" ads. I mean all these people telling you how all you are use less and not perfect. I think, we must just let these ads pass. Par my friend who is in FMCG sector, justify, saying "marketing manager ke pet ka sawal hai". BTW, person who we should blame for all these kind of ads is "David Ogilvy"

sunder said...

Advertisers are doing what best they think to make the product saleable...certainly fat is a bad word..may be one can put decently saying the BMG should be less than 25?

Da Eternal Rebel said...

As a guy, I fail to understand girl's obsession with being skinny. If all girls on earth become as angular and uninteresting as the guys then I will desire a different planet. For an obsession which is so unhealthy and potentially fatal, I do not know why so much weightage is attributed to it. When will the girls understand that its the mind which matters more than the pounds.

hitch writer said...

You dont want to look fat, by that I dont mean people strive for figures like Hritik or Angelina Jolie...

But You want to look a bit slim... again an individual choice....

However I do force my wife a lot to walk in the mornings and stay fit... (no this is one place I dont allow her a personal choice)

We must stay fit !


My theory is when we grow a lil older and retire.... we both want to end up in the hills and travel a lot so we must stay fit... must be able to trek down a few miles without much sweat...

She is too lazy and I have to force her... no option here...

Riya said...

I think its completely an individual choice.. If a person is over weight.. And she is ok with it then i think no one has a right to say anything or comment upon her.. But i am a fitness freak.. I dont eat many things just to stay healthy.. Not thin.. Being a doc i should preach health.. But anything and everything which goes according to the standard weight is to height chart is ok.. And that is healthy.. I think instead of being thin people should think of living healthy.. But certainly not obese.. Obesity is the first biggest morbidiz reason in united states.. And in india its on rise amongst school kids.. Lets make a healthy living.. Stop over eating.. And teach the children to eat and live healthy.. Not thin..

dinu said...

not sure if my story will fit in to this .. ;) I am too thin and I have been trying to put on some more weight ;) hmm, yes, I admit .. its about the looks .. I dont want to look thin ...

Indyeah said...

'Healthy ' being the key word :)
I have seen friends become chain smokers to keep off the weight...then there are some who puke their guts out....:(..And its heartbreaking to see them go through it..they have such a low self esteem and such a distorted self image that its hard to get anything in their heads...and most of the time their issues spring up because of the upbringing which did not give them enough self confidence...
So they are unable to believe in themselves..

I am an athletic tall girl who is well almost a giant on both sides of the family considering the cousins..I feel like Gulliver:D..when I attend weddings heels and all..:D

and I have the chubbiest cheeks which do not go even if I fall ill..:)
Sometimes I do wish that Oh god let me be petite..or those gorgeous chekbones that some ppl have...
:)
But then Ma gives me an earful and I return back to reality...
its just about being able to climb a flight of stairs without feeling out of breath as you said IHM:)
anyone who is not able to do the usual activities like these needs to shape up if he/she is overweight or in some cases eat more if they are too thin..

Indyeah said...

height to weight ratio(in pounds)

http://www.disabled-world.com/artman/publish/height_weight.shtml



How to calculate BMI

http://www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/



kilograms to pounds conversion

http://www.teaching-english-in-japan.net/conversion/kilograms

Monika said...

u are tagged
http://monikamanchanda15.blogspot.com/2009/02/cursed-tag.html

Chikki said...

Ok, I must be weird.I read your post and surfed some comments.If everyone feels so, I must be wrong.

But for me, It just boils down to your INSECURITY about your looks. I really don't think a kid will like his/her mother just because she is thin.(Mind you, we are talking about Kellog's Ad and they just promise to reduce 2 and half Kgs, thats it, it won't make you look thin).And, in this case I realy believe it is just one's insecurity, and what caused it?Just an Advertisement?Common, we can do better than this, can't we?

Also, Thin is not unhealthy in any way.It's only an Indian myth.Trust me.I know it, because I thought it so too.But after coming here, I am amazed to see that, women here (almost all who come to the field) run at least twice of what I do (Mind you, I run 3kms without stopping for a second), and No Kidding, but even the old ones do ( Might sound unbelievable, but you gotta see it to believe it).But if you look at their size, you will mislead yourself into believing that they are weak.

"being too thin or even undernourished"

What are you uncomparing?Do you know 6 out of 10 women in India are anemic?being thin is definitely no same as undernourished.

"Good health does not mean being size zero."

Who said so?And you can expect yourself to be healthy at size zero (though, need not be), but please FAT means UNHEALTHY..100%.

I think, I will create a separate post in my blog for your post.(:-(, can just not avoid it, its this feeling inside me which doesn't let me not analyze)

Indian Home Maker said...

@Chikki I am not saying being fat means healthy. I am just wondering HOW THIN and HOW FAT is okay.

And I agree it IS about being insecure about your looks. But what makes someone so insecure? More women wish to lose weight for LOOKS, less, in fact very few, for HEALTH.

Will get back to you ... you are not weird!!! I eat for health and watch my weight - as much if not more to fit into some favorite clothes ...

Despite all the awareness it is difficult to not think of looks also, and it is possible that a few extra kilograms will be a healthier option for many women? but they don't care ...

It isn't always insecurity it is just the way we like to dress, because (no matter how much we deny) we do become victims of present day trends.
Your post made me think of all this... this post is not an answer to your post, it is just one thought leading to another ...

Balvinder Singh said...

IHM, Good looks are right amount of fat at right places. And good health is supple and flexible body. A mix of balanced diet and exercise regimen makes it possible. And then age plays a great role too. After certain age one has to draw a line what to eat. But a lot also depends on one's attitude towards life. B + always.

Anrosh said...

this conversation is meant only for adults.

Numbers on a weighing scale do not lie and numbers on Wall street always lie. I learnt that the hard way.

Sandhya said...

Ads of this kind do sometimes leave an unwanted affect on many of us, even if we are wise about our health and know all the ins and outs of nutrition. Our society gives so much importance to looks and appearances and might make a mother insecure when her 7 year old says she is fat. My 4 year old asked me few days back "mamma how does one become fat?" It was a simple question from a curious mind, thankfully, I was not in one of those moods and could respond intelligently by explaining different body types and the role of food and exercise.

Piper .. said...

IHM, I`m fat and I`m extremely insecure because of it. Sometimes I think the best possible solution is to lose some weight so I dont have a coronary everytime I go out and interact with people. But easier said than done I suppose. I dont know the reason, but thin is always in, dont you think? I wish more people had your mindset. That, it isnt so much about being thin as being healthy. But they dont. I actually know people who treat me with contempt because I`m fat. Either that, or its my imagination working overtime when I`m around thin people :(

Charakan said...

I think this craze to be very thin is mainly in Urban India. In my practise recently married girls and those who are about to marry generally want to gain weight.Only the grossly over weight girls or those who have irregular periods due to PCOS wants to reduce weight. Older women/men wants to reduce weight not for looks but for health.
In a society were food is scarce and there is heavy manual labour,fat is considered as good as it helps in fighting the main killers of poor,the infections.
When the food is in plenty and no need for physical work, fat is dangerous as it can cause morbidity/mortality due to cardio vascular diseases and Diabetes.

Varun said...

Size zero is a fad which is gonna die as soon as one of the size zero dies without eating food :). They all look anorexic.

Majaz said...

lol Lohan is extremely anorexic. Achmed the Dead Terrorist jokes about her if you note. :P

I hate this new age of being thin. I'm five foot two and the pressure to stay thin is crazy. :(

Charakan said...

This is to Chikki, I am due to some technical reason is not able to comment in your new post.

Both you and IHM have some valid points. You are talking about a fat person not wanting to admit she is fat while IHM is talking about non-fat person wanting to be super thin. Thats why the difference in perception.
Ads do have an impact on public.The health related ads describing unproved wonder remedies cause harm to the public. Being a doc I had several such experiences. If Kellogs are claiming 2.5 kg weight lose ideally they should publish the references of the clinical trial that proved it.A non partisan body should look in to it and should certify it genuine.Then only such ads should be allowed.Unfortunately no such law is followed in India.
Chikki, you have trained yourself not to be swayed by ads.But most of the ppl are not like you.

Reema said...

Agree with u totally!

Mama - Mia said...

i am sure all of us accept in theory that only good health should matter! but thats not the reality and the peer pressure is tremendous!

i cant even get clothes my size in most places and i am not THAT huge. i am by no means near thin,but still!

it will take a looong time for such notions to change. we still havent gotten over our fairness bug, have we?!

sigh!

cheers!

abha