by Melodie Davis
for release January 21, 2000
A Sensible Approach to Weighty Issues
If you are like me, you are ready to take off a few pounds after the holidays. Last May I wrote about "weight prejudice" and promised a follow-up column using stories from readers. Not surprisingly, a number of readers wrote emotional descriptions about struggles with weight-both too much and too little, as this first story points out:
"Weight prejudice goes both ways," says June (name changed). "As an extremely thin person, overweight people resent me, have no qualms about saying with disgust and resentment, 'You are so skinny, eat something.' I have heard: 'Let me fatten you up.' 'It's sick.' 'You make me sick.' 'I hate you.' 'You're anorexic.' 'At least I'm not flat-chested.' 'I just can't relate to you, I'm not comfortable around you.' 'You exercise? Oh come on, like you need it?' 'You don't know what it's like to have a weight problem.'"
June concludes, "Never in all my days would I dream of hurting a heavy person by saying similar comments to them. Why is it OK for people to ridicule thin people, remind them of health issues, demand that they change their bodies, treat them as little children? There is such a thing as being too thin."
Today many adolescent girls especially grow so unhappy about their weight they develop eating disorders. While I have no first hand experience with that, my heart goes out to anyone who does. As Kay shares, an eating disorder can be an ongoing struggle:
"I suffered a lot of trials growing up and have an eating disorder. My [healing] from bulimia, though a year old, is still very fresh and new. It is still very hard to get the right image of myself, though I read and meditate on scripture. It is so hard! I was feeling so strong for awhile but now [it] is harder than ever this season."
Many people struggle with weight gain after quitting smoking. Lynn says, "I quit smoking over seven years ago. Needless to say, I gained about 30 pounds. I have tried several things, but just recently began to think a little differently about how I could lose some of this weight. I try not to eat anything after 6 p.m., and have all but cut out the pop (I'm a coke-a-holic). I lose better if I also exercise. I think you have to reach a point where you are really determined and therefore have the willpower to do it!"
Finally, one mother, Sharon, says she doesn't allow her teenage girls to read the teen magazines because "I believe they teach all the wrong things. I teach them that their bodies were made by God, therefore we should not pit our bodies against each other in competition. I want them to know it's what is on the inside that counts. What counts is how you treat other people and the value you put on them, instead of putting greater value on yourself." I admire one woman, whose doctor gave her the easiest diet (that is, easy to remember) when she was in the eighth grade, and it has worked beautifully for her all her life. She was what she called "chubby" as a girl, and in the 8th grade one of her favorite teachers brought her to attention to it. Susan went to the doctor and he said, "I'll give you a diet that will work the rest of your life if you follow it: at every meal, help yourself to one moderate serving of everything that is served-you can have something of everything, including dessert. But no seconds, and no eating between meals." She shed those excess pounds and has maintained a slender body her whole life, and she is now approaching 60.
In some ways we could say that paying too much attention and constantly obsessing about weight and body is a bit self-centered. On the other hand, we know that we are to take care of our bodies and keep them as healthy as possible. Skip the wacky diets. I'm always amused by rigid fat gram counters who don't seem to worry about calorie count. Balance and sensible approaches are what I recommend.
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Melodie Davis is the author of seven books and has written her column since 1987. She taught feature writing and has won awards from a number of organizations including the National Federation of Press Women, Virginia Press Women and the American Advertising Association. She and her husband have three growing daughters.
NOTES TO EDITORS: text = 705 words; end material = 105 words
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