Posted by: *carrie* | April 2, 2010

Body Image & The Challenge

The lovely ladies over at 90s have a post up about awesome 90s stomachs. I’m really only referencing it because (a) I love that blog and its deliverance of 90s awesomeness and (b) to use this as an introduction:

I know everyone thinks it is annoying and privileged and white to think about body image–which it partly is–but a lot of political energy can get siphoned off obsessing about the contours of ones stomach!

I have to admit to having a major lack of body image issues. I attribute this to a number of factors. My parents never explicitly focused on my looks. Sure, my mom had moments of dressing me in pink and Easter bonnets and calling me cute. But she also praised other attributes, like being smart or inventive or adventurous. The only magazine I subscribed to as a teen was Dirt Rider, a magazine about riding dirt bikes, as in, motorcycles. (I do kind of wish I would have come across Sassy, but even that was probably too girly for me back then). In my twenties I briefly read Jane, but it was too full of beauty and fashion to hold my interest.

I guess I opted out of a lot of media designed to create those negative images in the first place. And in the other place, I just have never much cared. I’m average build, and while my weight fluctuates, I’m generally a little overweight. I exercise pretty regularly and eat pretty healthy. I don’t see a problem with the occasional indulgence.

So when I’m at a bookstore or library, and I’m scouring the “women’s studies” sections, I inevitably come across books on body image. I usually even pick them up and look them over. I read references to them in other feminist writings. But I cannot make myself be interested enough in the issue to commit to reading any of them. Which sometimes make me feel like I’m brushing off the issue. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to look at media images and imagine how and why it reeks havoc among girls and women.

I’m telling you all of this, to tell you that, at the age of 33, I am on my first ever ‘diet’, although I prefer not to use the term. It started because my coworkers entered a local weight-loss challenge and I joined them. My motivation is not to lose weight, or ‘look better’, or event be healthier. It is 100% about winning all of the awesome prizes.

I am tracking all kind of information; how much I exercise, what I eat, the fat, calorie, sugar contents of food… This just started last week, and it’s a 10 week long contest. Tomorrow will be the first time I weight myself to measure my ‘progress’.

Of course I have posted a few times on my facebook about the challenge, and friends & family comment with support. What is almost disturbing is how often those comments seem to be implying that I should be actively trying to lose weight. I don’t mean that my friends are calling me fat. It’s more that the message is out there all the time that losing weight is important, society places a high premium on it.

My partner asked me last night if I was going to continue doing all of these things after we win (he’s also on our team). My answer? Hell, no. I have better things to do with my time. And, really, while it will be awesome to lose some of this excess weight, I’m still happy with the person I am.


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