Monday, August 31, 2015

The "Fat Chic" Trend

I haven't actually come across this phrase I am using--fat chic. But it's an obvious trend nonetheless. I also think it's a dangerous trend, every bit as harmful as the size 0 standard of high fashion models. I don't envy the flat-chested, hipless, dull eyed girls in the magazines. I have no desire to emulate their emaciated frames. What is tempting to me is the growing glamorization of obesity.

It used to be that a plus size model was about five foot, 10 inches tall and a healthy size 12. I'm an inch and a half shorter than that, and at my age and wearing a size 12, I'm about 7 pounds overweight. I am in fact usually one of the slimmest people I see out in public, even among those significantly younger than me. But do I really want to be in good shape only if compared to most people? I look far better even than some 12-year-old girls. This is not a good thing. This is scary. 

According to, "The average height and weight of women varies around the world, but in the United States in 2010 the average adult female height was 63.8 inches -- approximately 5-foot-4 -- and 166.2 pounds, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This number is higher than in the past and corresponds to a body mass index that is classified as overweight."

In other words, the average American woman is not simply "pleasantly plump" but is downright fat. And it goes beyond that, with obesity becoming a national crisis. (A BMI of 30 or greater is considered obese, overweight if it’s between 25-29.9, normal if it’s 18.5-24.9, and underweight if it’s less than 18.5.) Not only women suffer from the health risks associated with excess weight, but men too. It's a heart attack waiting to happen. And of special concern to me is childhood obesity. This is a mark of failure in our society.

So why is the media celebrating size 22 models? Why are magazines increasingly featuring extremely overweight bloggers? I am all for loving yourself exactly as you are, because that is the starting point toward better health and overall wellness. But the current spirit of glorifying obesity is deadly. And it is diametrically opposed to the Christian philosophy of the body as a temple of the Holy Spirit.

If I follow in my mother's footsteps, I could be looking at menopause next year. I recently read that after menopause, a woman has to eat 200 some calories less per day just to maintain her current weight. Weight around the middle poses the greatest risk to health, and that is precisely where I gain it. There and in my naturally ample bosom. The "girls" simply cannot get any bigger. I couldn't bear it, either literally or figuratively!

Today is the 31st of August, which is 2 months to Halloween. In the next 8 weeks I could safely lose 2 pounds per week, for a total of 16 shed pounds. That would put me eight pounds below the high end of a healthy weight for my height and age, giving me some wiggle room for that menopausal phase coming in the near future.

It's time to fight the fat chic trend promoted in the media. Do not give in. You will not feel glamorous. You will not be healthy. Your clothes won't fit well, and you may even require breast reduction surgery. You won't be a good role model for your daughters or anyone else. I'm not going to fade quietly into the dark night of gross obesity, no matter how normal or sexy the magazines portray it to be. Are you?

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Toxic Accumulation

Let us refer to the period from the 1920s to 1965 as the Golden Age of the modern American housewife. This will save me from repeatedly referring to those specific decades. When you see the words Golden Age from now on, you will know what I mean!

What I have been thinking about today is the multivalent character of toxic accumulation. This is my umbrella term for the various ways in which we have not only too much, but too much of the wrong stuff and not enough of the good things in life. The many ways in which we are over-burdened, over-scheduled, cluttered, and blocked are destroying our health and our serenity. We are a society slowly but surely killing ourselves. And in some mysterious way, it all comes down to honesty.

The phrase "full of poop" comes to mind, more often using an expletive, but I'm trying to be polite. We say someone is full of poop when he is not being honest. Maybe he is outright lying, or exaggerating, or we perceive him to be self-deceived. Now think about being full of poop in the literal sense. What is the cause of constipation?

When my daughter Beezy was a toddler, she was afraid of poop. At age three she was potty trained in terms of peeing in the toilet, but she would only poop in a pull up, and evidently she was holding her poop in. This resulted in a chronic case of constipation, a very painful condition. For over a year we made trips an hour away to a poop specialist, and Beezy had to stay on prescription Miralax. Occasionally she still has recurring bouts of extreme constipation. According to the doctor, such cases of children who are afraid of poop and experience these consequences are not unusual.

So where is the dishonesty in this case? It's hidden in the adult response to potty training. In our hurry up world, parents are pressured by the media and people in their daily lives to make sure that their children do not get "behind" in any way. There is a rush to wean from breastfeeding, to walk, to use the "big girl" potty, to read not only Dick and Jane, but Shakespeare. Children feel the stress of their parents acutely. Due to outside pressure, I told my daughter at one point that she must use the toilet to poop, that I would not put a pull up on her anymore. She went four days without a bowel movement. Worried, I called a nurse, who encouraged me to let her poop in the pull up in order to avoid a trip to the emergency room. I was relieved to have not only a voice of reason supporting me, but an "expert".  I knew no one would argue with the nurse, and I was right.

Ignoring a child's needs and hurrying developmental milestones is dishonest. It is denying the truth of who the child is and what is natural to expect of him. Bucking under outside pressure instead of trusting your motherly instincts and feminine intuition is dishonest. We do not do the thing that we know we should do. When I become constipated, it is because I have been dishonest with myself. I have continued to eat food that is unhealthy, or failed to get adequate exercise. Perhaps I've drunk too much coffee and not enough water. I sometimes ignore my body's signals that I'm becoming ill. When I do make the effort to go to the farmers market, and I increase my intake of fruits and vegetables, what was stuck inside finally gets released. And then I have to admit to myself that I have toxic accumulation that negatively effects the quality of my life.

There are many forms of toxic accumulation, and this is a theme I will continue to explore in the coming week. In the Golden Age of the modern American housewife, I think there was a lesser occurrence of such factors. Contemporary efforts to simplify life are directly tied to eliminating toxic accumulation. So how is your stomach feeling today?