Friday, November 18, 2011

Vanity



Yesterday a Tweet from the newspaper The Age happened to catch my eye. Don't ask me what it said now; I have no idea (short-term memory loss, anyone?)... BUT it linked to this article by health writer Paula Goodyer, which is an absolute ripper.

The topic is one that's been discussed innumerable times by health and fitness bloggers, including yours truly: In a nutshell, that a little vanity can be a good thing, and can help you to stay motivated when it comes to exercise and eating well. She makes the point that there are extremes - witness some of the crazy and obsessive behaviour of models and other celebrities in their quest to become or stay stick-thin. But a healthy level of vanity - I'd probably call it pride in your appearance - can be useful.

This passage of Paula's had me nodding my head in agreement:

....when does accepting your body for the way it is become not taking responsibility for looking after it? If staying in shape can be a convenient cover for a destructive eating disorder, can loving yourself as you are be an excuse not to act against excessive weight gain? 
 

I do agree with the popular line that we should love and appreciate our bodies, whatever size or shape they are. I certainly don't want to look like a supermodel. But I have a problem with people who use the "We're all beautiful, no matter what we look like" line as an excuse for not doing anything about health-threatening obesity. Or the idea that if you want to lose weight, you must hate yourself. I've certainly written about that before.

It's a tricky topic to discuss, because you can be seen as unsympathetic, prejudiced or just plain nasty. It seems it's not acceptable to be critical of fat people - but hey, go nuts picking on thin people; they're apparently fair game, as are "obsessive" exercisers and "health nuts". Whatever, that's a whole other topic of its own.

Go read the article and tell me what you think. Oh, and be sure to read the comments too. The one by Old bag is a real eye-roller.


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6 comments:

project-frankie.com said...

Kekster, Vanity is the ONLY thing between me and a size 22!

Kek said...

I hear ya, Frankie!

Sara said...

While good health, a lowered disease risk, improved mental clarity and stress relief are all major reasons why I live a healthy lifestyle, I would be lying if I said that being able to fit into my wardrobe had nothing to do with it. Fortunately, what I do to feel good inside also helps me look great on the outside, and I think it's perfectly fine to WANT to look fit. :) Good post!

Kek said...

Yeah, Baby! Perfect summary of how I feel, Sara. x

Sara said...

Vanity WAS my driving force until I got arthritis. Then I had a little think, ditched the 'doing it to get into an 8' mentality and realised that being fitter, very well nourished and lighter was probably my only chance of avoiding a painful middle age. No matter how fit my heart and lungs are, it's the weight on my frame that I carry every day on my joints. I also think it's about feeling good in yourself. I 'could' feel good about myself overweight and slightly arthritic, but the level of mental effort required was definitely more than just putting my mind to eating better and losing a bit of flab!

Kek said...

It's funny how health issues can change your perspective on things. It seems to go one of two ways though:

1. Realise that your weight and/or lack of fitness is causing or exacerbating your disease, and frickin do something about it.

2. Use your arthritis/asthma/PCOS/whatever as an excuse for NOT doing anything. "I can't help being overweight; it's my disease causing it" (a.k.a It's not my fault) or "I can't exercise because of my disease, poor me".

Unfortunately, I see a lot of #2 going on amongst my family, friends & acquaintances. :(

For me, vanity definitely played a part in busting the lard, but so did health, as I've written about many times before. So far, the osteo-arthritis that runs through my family is leaving me alone, apart from a few twinges in finger and toe joints. #WINNING

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