There was a meme all over Facebook this week about a woman who reportedly wrote a response to a bulletin posted at a gym. I do not know if any of this is true, so the journalist in me resisted posting it to my wall.
Also, many of the memes included a nude photo of French model Tara Lynn (pictured here) sitting in a wicker chair. While she is certainly beautiful and I appreciate tasteful nudity, I don’t like naked people on furniture. It’s an phobia I have about ass-matter-transfer, one of the multitude of reasons I would never be comfortable at a nudist colony, and totally not relevant to this discussion.
Any old hoo, this is the text of the meme:
A while back, at the entrance of a gym, there was a picture of a very thin and beautiful woman. The caption was “This summer, do you want to be a mermaid or a whale?”
The story goes, a woman (of clothing size unknown) answered the following way:
Without a doubt, I’d rather be a whale.
At a time when the media tells us that only thin is beautiful, I prefer to eat ice cream with my kids, to have dinner with my husband, to eat and drink and have fun with my friends. We women, we gain weight because we accumulate so much wisdom and knowledge that there isn’t enough space in our heads, and it spreads all over our bodies. We are not fat, we are greatly cultivated.
Every time I see my curves in the mirror, I tell myself: “How amazing am I ?! “
OK. There’s a lot going on in that meme, and it has generated a lot of discussion.
For others, this seems to say that it’s OK to be obese, no matter what the consequences to your health. (I follow this blogger on Twitter and she’s smart and funny. I totally get where she’s going here.)
My take, for what it’s worth, is this: If some staffer at a gym really posted that flyer, it’s a condescending way to isolate and shame women and it sends the wrong message. In other words, that person is a douche.
Women should not be shamed into fitness because of their appearance, ever. This is not a way to incentivize exercise, at least it’s not for me. The horrific memories of school gym classes come flooding back and that is one of the reasons I’ve always felt like I don’t belong in a fitness facility. Every gym teacher I ever had was Sue Sylvester. True story.
But I am trying to convince myself now that I do belong. I remind myself that I do not swim to look prettier in my swimsuit. I swim, despite all the cellulite jutting out for the world to see, to improve my health.
To the woman who wrote the response that has now been tweeted and liked around the Internet, I am almost there with you. Whales are not overweight and they are certainly not unattractive. They are powerful, graceful and fit. Mermaids are not real and certainly not aspirational. I want to enjoy food, drinks and ice cream, too. I want to embrace my curves. But I also know that too much “cultivation” is going to kill me.
If losing weight has the side benefit of looking better, then that’s great. But the goal for me is to alleviate my arthritis pain and help my mobility. My current weight is impeding my career and my personal life. I have no illusions that I will ever be thin or look like the images in magazines, which are totally unrealistic and, frankly, unattractive.
I have always had a round ass and chunky thighs, and no matter how much shame is shoved down my throat, I always will be curvy. I was not OK with that when I was younger. I loathed the way I looked and those body images haunt me to this day. It’s part of the reason that, as I became older and less active, I piled on so much weight — I found comfort in food that eased the pain of never feeling pretty enough.
People who do not have emotional issues with food will never understand that statement. Those who do know exactly what I mean.