America’s Weight Extremes

As I clicked through Shine on Yahoo today checking out health articles, it once again became ridiculously apparent how much pressure there is on women to have the perfect body. Every other article was about how to attain “sexy abs,” how to shed the pounds fast, “drop a size by summer,” so on and so forth. How ironic that America’s #1 weight loss supplement, Hydroxycut, has been re-called because, surprise!, it’s not safe. It’s led some people to needing liver transplants, and has caused everything from excelled heart rates to jaundice.

As part of the Wind Ensemble tour this past week, we visited different schools. It amazed me how many of America’s youth are obese. Based on sheer guesstimation, it looked like one out of every five to seven kids were obese, and one out of those five to seven were extremely obese. Why? Are we afraid to offend parents (especially if they themselves are overweight) and let them know that their children are at risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and a lifetime of humiliation and embarrassment? It’s embarrassing to be overweight! I know; I’ve been there! I was that ugly duckling especially in upper elementary and junior high. Even now, I still need to shed pounds, but my parents made sure I stayed active aaaaaalll throughout my childhood years. I was in softball, basketball, swimming, cheerleading (eh, not exactly a form of exercise), I lifted, my father and I went to Turkey Run and hiked trails quite a few weekends a month, I roller bladed, rode a bike, etc etc. I’ve always been active. It was clear that these children aren’t that way. Many of them couldn’t even wear jeans, but instead wore sweatpants, and some of the girls wore very tight dresses. This is a serious problem, America!

The cause? Ha! There isn’t just one problem. Unlike fifty years ago, we now have Internet, TV, video games, etc etc. Backyard football? You never see that anymore! Families don’t spend days at the park anymore. Something like that is considered “boring” to today’s youth. We can’t appreciate the outdoors and the beauty that God has spread out for us because we’re too busy surfing through Facebook and the rest of cyberspace in order to keep ourselves entertained. Children are wasting hours and hours sitting in front of a screen. Even in schools, we can’t use books for research anymore because it ‘takes too much time.’ Instead, we’re Googling every chance we get because we want answers and we want answers now. I have to wonder how many elementary kids have ever heard the word “encyclopedia.” And of those children who even know what it is, how many have actually used one?

Why? Why are children so lethargic and unwilling to get out and move? Some find it boring, others seem to say, “What’s the point?” Exercise is NOT boring! You just have to find what’s good for you. Not everyone can get out and run a mile; find what YOU like. The self-esteem of some is disheartening. Children/Teens see themselves as worthless just because they don’t look like the movie stars on TV. America has told us females that we have to be a size 0, have long blond hair, perfect skin, and blue eyes in order to be deemed attractive. I don’t know how many times a week I cringe because I don’t look like this. I’m told by people that I’m an attractive girl, but when I flip on the TV or open up a magazine or surf a website, I’m told otherwise: I’m hideous. So who’s to decide the answer? Me. I’m the one that decides HOW I look what I think about how I look.

On the other hand, you have the other extreme: anorexia and bulimia. I’ve watched multiple friends stop eating because they don’t look the way their friends do. You have some children who wallow in self-pity and eat themselves to death, and then you have the ones who starve themselves because they don’t think they’re worthy enough to eat. How sad is this! We’ve said goodbye to personalities and the heart and welcomed in skinny hips, thighs that don’t touch, and sunken cheek bones. This is sad. Girls can’t be themselves unless they can handle criticism and chastisement. Marilyn Monroe who’s considered one of the most beautiful women ever was a size 12. If she were to step into Hollywood being a size 12 today, she would be on the cover of the weekly tabloids as overweight and unhappy. Half of America’s girls are a size 13 and over. This is the norm for half of our girls. Many girls who I’ve seen in double digits (size 10 or over) look HEALTHY. Many of those girls are some of the most active girls I know as well. Not everyone can be a size 2. I have absolutely no shot at ever having a single-digit pair of jeans unless I were to become anorexic; yay for humongous hip bones. It took a very long time to become okay with this. It wasn’t until about a month ago that I started to become comfortable with the way I look. Yet, every time I surf the Internet, I find my self-esteem taking a hit because I’m really not what’s considered attractive when it comes to the way I’m built. Kate Moss who recently gained weight, was deemed “fat” by London Times. She’s about a size 4-6 now. This is fat?! There’s no hope for the rest of us, and furthermore, we’re telling girls who ARE super skinny that they aren’t skinny enough. America is doomed.

So what’s overweight? What’s healthy? What’s considered okay? Our culture has become diseased; we’re portraying beautiful girls as hideous creatures because they don’t fit within a stereotype. It’s almost like a silent holocaust in a sense; we’re ostracizing people because they don’t look like everyone else, and we’re committing social homicide. Happy mediums? No such thing. Either you ARE America’s definition of beautiful or you aren’t. Watch a Miss America pageant and it will reaffirm that. How many girls look the way Miss America looks? Exactly; only the other 49 states who weren’t chosen. Miss America isn’t a representation of the average American girl; she’s a representation of how America WANTS the average American girl to look. Sad, but true.

So, where from here? What does our generation do with it? How do we bring our children up once we start having children? What do we tell them? We should all know the correct answers to this, but maybe we don’t always pay as close attention as needed. Wake up America.. put down the Big Mac and jump on a treadmill. And for those of you who disappear when you turn sideways, go grab some grub; it’s good for you.

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