Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Girls are meant to be curvy....

and that's ok. Perhaps we should be celebrating that. Before I start writing this, for full disclosure I will cite Robin:

 "This is a post that is going to talk about weight, specifically me worrying about my weight and body size even though I am a thin person. So you might not want to read this if you struggle with disordered eating or body image problems or even if weight talk just makes your eyes roll."

 This post is part of the 2011 Love Your Body Day Blog Carnival

 I just started reading this book (thanks to Marcela, who recommended it to me a short while ago), and I am so thankful I laid my hands  on it. Already on page 9 it knocked me right off my socks. You see, I am a healthy eater. I love food. I try to eat a balanced diet. But still, and I don't know if it is a girl thing, I am guilty of obsessing about my weight and about my rounded girly forms. Yes, I am a slender person. But I also have hips, a bum and well proportioned legs.

 I am lucky enough that even when as a teenager I would feel self conscious because my legs were not as thin as most of the other girls' in junior high school were, my parents would always compliment me on my legs, say they were nice, and so I grew up to learn to love them. Thing is, I am quite certain that with age come changes in metabolism, and in body form. When I was 19 I weighed around 8 kg less than I do now, and the first big weight change came a year after I started university. I am pretty sure this shift can be attributed to the fact that I was living by myself for the first time in my life. I was in charge of cooking and taking care of my diet and that involved lots of pasta, cereal, cookies and ice-cream eaten directly from the 1 L pots that my friends and I would just eat while studying. Yeah, we also ate salads, but I am guessing not enough. Those first 2 years I put on some 12 kg (!!!) and I was at my heaviest.

 In the meantime, without any real plan I lost some of that weight, but I had been obsessing about losing these 4 kg that just won't go away, that are maybe part of me, but that I didn't want to acknowledge because they didn't use to be there in the first place, you know, when I was 17. And yes, also about that muffin top that you can see when I am wearing bad jeans or a bikini. I don't know if all of this has to do with the images that the media constantly bombards us with, that end up creeping in into the minds of girls, but I don't like the blame game. I think this thing we do of "feeling" fat comes with periods, menstrual cramps, swelling, and the general bloaedtness of  those days. And so I wanted to lose those 4 kg, in order to lower my Body Mass Index back to 18.5, to force myself to be healthy, but in the limit of thin.  Yes, crazy, idiotic me. (Not that I was actually doing anything about it, because I am super lazy when it comes to exercise and I am conscious enough to not stop eating).  Anyway, back to page 9 of the book:

"As a result of extensive research, fertility expert and Harvard professor Rose Frisch maintains that only 10 percent of women are fertile with a body mass index of 18. She says: 'Many women who maintain body shape made popular on the catwalks throughout the world are completely infertile '. Even if you are underweight and still have periods, your diet can affect your fertility. This is because your body needs a sufficient intake of fat (albeit the right kind) to produce the hormones required for ovulation". 

Do you realize? That means that 90 % of girls with a BMI of 18, which is supposed to be healthy, who are having regular periods could be sub-fertile. Wow. Yay for the "happy weight". I don't want to lose the extra kg. anymore. I should have known better. But IT has to stop. The pressure on girls to be thin. To believe that if you don't look like Kate Moss you are not as pretty, as valuable, worth it. And I thought I was smarter than all of that. With my silly "I want to be as thin as possible within the healthy standard" reasoning I fell right into that trap. The cultural messages have to change. Girls have to learn, to be taught to embrace their naturally curvy bodies, because they are like that for a reason. For a good, healthy reason. If you want to read more about the subject here is an article about Dr. Frisch (mentioned above) or you can read what these smart girls have written on the subject: Robin, and Lauren. It is up to us girls to break and fight these damaging, toxic stereotypes that drive us crazy for no good reason.


  1. Interesting. I am nowhere near an 18 bmi but also obsess about losing some kgs I have put on. I wonder what part of our brain makes us obsess about being skinny? Maybe we should all have some sort of skinny labotomy (might lose weight in the process too).

    Enjoy Brussels this weekend.

  2. I am happy the book was useful! My doctor always told not to go below BMI 20, that it was way too risky on many aspects to do that. As a teenager I wanted to be as thin as Kate Moss even though there is NO WAY I could ever be like that. During pregnancy I loved my body because it was nesting my babies, but after took me 22 months to get back in shape, and this time I did it with a nutritionist. I find that when we have had a history of not-so-healthy body image, working with a nutritionist to achieve the right weight without endangering our health is very useful.

  3. I had no idea that weight could affect fertility so profoundly. Another reason why we should learn to embrace our bodies in their natural (and healthy) state.
    Will you be in Brussels this weekend? So sad I'm not here! But we'll meet in a few weeks time :)

  4. @ iripple, Yeah, I really wonder what it is that make us obsessive about it. I would like to know if it happens, say, in cultures not influenced by the media, or if it is a more general girl thing.

    @ Marcela, yes thank you, so so much. I love the fact that it has all the references (often this kind of books don't cite their sources, which, thank you very much, I don't find so useful). I never knew a BMI under 20 was risky... since everywhere you hear that 18 is unhealthy and I was actually (naturally) around 18 as a teenager.

    @ Fiona Lynne, yeah we will be there just for the day..... I was gonna let you know but wasn't sure if it was short notice ! But we will meet soon enough. And yeah, I had no idea that weight had such a deep effect. I mean, of course I knew that the age when a girl gets ger period the first time depends on the proportion of body fat in her body (that is the signal that her body is "ready"), and I also knew that olympic athletes such as gymnasts lose their periods, but I always thought that 18 was healthy, and healthy in all ways at that. Quite a shock.

  5. Efectivamente. Creo que los medios son los que mantienen esa creencia de que las mejores mujeres son las de talla 0. Especialmente si las cincuentonas salen con ese cuerpo de quinceañera y rostro de 20!
    El cuerpo cambia con los años. Nadie te lo dice, así que terminamos interpretandolo como un cambio malo. Aunque sea normal.
    Yo siempre he pensado que, no hay mejor manera de saber como va a ser tu cuerpo con los años, que viendo el de tu mamá! Así que ahí tienes un pequeño ejemplo de lo que serás! jejejejeje
    De todas formas, no está de más cuidar de la alimentación y agregarle movimiento aeróbico al cuerpo!

  6. @ Ley, tienes toda la razón. Creo que es un dicho no? Eso de que les recomiendan a los chicos fijarse en la mama y ver si les gusta porque lo más probable es que cambiemos así. Y definitivamente, hay que comer sano y hacer ejercicio ejem (bueno yo camino todo lo que puedo y cuando podemos vamos en bici... pero activamente ir al gimnasio o correr.... me aterra nunca fui muy deportista.... si tengo los tennis y todo, el plan era hacer ejercicio pero nada, prefiero ser activa, por ejemplo, caminar al trabajo y subir escaleras.)
    Y si que miedo, las cincuentonas operadas, el culto al cuerpo joven en vez de tratar de aprender a aceptarnos.

  7. While I am usually very happy with my curvy body, I do want to say that it's equally ok for women to be naturally not curvy- I would hate to see there be a pressure for women to have curves, especially as some of my lovers have been quite slender, boyish, and healthy/fertile. Natural bodies are lovely in their diversity!

  8. @ Kitty, yes of course 100 % agree with that. And my intention was not to imply that naturally slender bodies are not healthy. What I was going to, and I hope it was clear, was that we should accept our bodies in their natural form, without obsessing with losing weight, and I know there are perfectly healthy girls who are thin by nature because of their metabolism. Even I tend to the thin side of the spectrum. But yes, natural bodies are lovely in their diversity.

  9. Have no idea what happened to my comment to this post. Oh, well, I don't know What I'm doing this days!

    I was going to say I could just borrow (read steal) this post into my blog and change the picture for one of myself and it would make perfect sense. Growing up in a thin body, the weight gain at college (10 kg, and I'm only 1,60m) and then slowly and naturaly recovering till those last 4 kg that don't want to go.

    I do like my body as it is, well a bit more exercise here and there would do wonders, but (warning, this is going sound like I have some kind of anorexia) when I look at pictures I shock myself how my face looks chubby. And honestly, I don't like how it looks. And then I look at the pictures minus 3 or 4 kg (like the wedding ones) and there's a huge difference. Can this be?

    You know when woman say all they eat goes to their hips and belly? Mine goes strait to the cheeks! Well... a little to the belly. :)

    One must learn to live with what we have. And be happy with it. It's harder when you know you could look different (and better according to our own standards) but must accept not having it for healthier issues. It's a struggle.

  10. @ Ines, oh that is funny, but you are here ! ANd wow it is amazing, I have exactly the same happening to my face with weight. I think my face is like a barometer, as soon as I am putting weight you see it in my cheeks, they just get rounder, specially when I smile. And in pictures or moment where I have been thiner, you do notice the difference. It is funny because I notice that change first in my face, and then in my hips and legs, and then belly. But yes, let's just accept ourselves how we are, and I believe harder yet, accept that our bodies will change with age, it is a process, a slow one, but it is happening everyday.

  11. Thanks for the great post! I'm currently obsessing over what I eat because I've broken my foot, hence I can't exercise. it's a slow process coming to terms with the fact that I will never be 105 lbs again, but I'm finding that as I get older, small women get infantalised a lot more than women who are naturally healthy. And that really sucks! I already look quite young, and I'm fed up with people patting me on the head. Time to embrace the jelly I guess...

  12. @ camillapeffer. Well, when your broken foot heals, you will be able to exercise a bit, but yes, I think the difficult thing is to accept that our bodies, our whole selves change with age, but that is an ok process. I am glad this could somehow help or offer you insight. :)


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