30 comments on “On Display: A Feminist’s Tale of Getting Healthy and Losing Weight

  1. Ice_Badger says:

    this is a very interesting post, it aligns with what i was thinking aftermy lunchtimejaunt into the shops. I am on a get fit and healty mission, primarily to be fitter and secondarily to lose weight, not vast amounts, just enough that makes fitness easier to achieve. I thought I might buy a fitness magazine to find extra inspiration. Every single “women’s fitness” magazine was full of “how to lose weight fast” “how to get your bikini body” “best diets” articles. “Men’s fitness” wasn’t much better, all “how to look bulky with minimal effort”. What happened to a world where people could get fit and healthy without all the pressure of conforming to a gender stereotype…

    sorry, my comment turned into a mini rant! I meant to say, I agree and you put your point across in such an interesting way. 🙂

  2. Nora says:

    A similar thing happened to me in the years after college…I gradually gained 30 pounds. I decided to put the focus on getting more fit rather than a number on the scale, and that worked for me. I feel healthier/happier when I am fit and strong.

  3. richhell says:

    “I was on display constantly, whether I talked about it or not.” – Unfortunately, women in our culture are “on display” whether they want to be or not.

  4. I can really identify with this struggle. I had also gained about 30 lbs over the years (based on the comments, it sounds as if there are a few of us!) and I also chose to be slimmer and fitter with only health in mind. But I worried that I was sending a message to other women I knew that “You’re not OK the way you are,” and sure enough, after a while, some of them started to feel “You’re not one of us average folks any more.” Any public evidence of self-discipline, such as turning down a brownie at work, was frowned upon. I tend to throw myself whole-heartedly into nutrition and fitness programs, and I was terrified that I’d set a bad example for my teenager, who is gender-non-normative and already fraught with body issues. The whole process was, and is, a big deal. PS – I consider myself a Feminist with a capital F as well!

  5. Very interesting post. I myself am very independent, but I love being feminine. That said, I too battled with weight–being nearly anorexic while on my college cross-country team, to gradually gaining weight to over 160 pounds. (I have a muscular body, so it’s not completely evident that I’m “so” overweight.) I’ve discovered along the way that 140 is an ideal weight for me (I’m 5’3″). Just recently I mentioned to my mom that I’d like to get back to 140 pounds, and she said, “But shouldn’t your ideal weight be 125?” I could be 140 pounds and no one would realize that I might be “overweight” for my height. Weight is not all that it’s cracked up to be. But I do feel healthier since I’ve been exercising–there’s nothing like the feeling of walking up a long flights of stairs and not having to catch your breath!

  6. This is very interesting, thanks for sharing. I read the “about me” section in the sidebar and can definitely relate to your mentality. I’ll be back for more of your insights : )

  7. Roar Sweetly says:

    Great post. Since my mum died of cancer earlier this year, I have made big chances in my eating habits and a concerted effort to get into my healthy weight range (which has meant a goal of losing 5kg). I don’t look ‘fat’ to other people but I am overweight and to improve my health and my odds in life I should be in my healthy weight range. I have found that people have struggled to accept this, saying “you don’t need to diet”, “you like fine” etc as they assume I’m doing it for vanity/appearance reasons. I am now about a kilo outside of my healthy weight range and meeting that goal will be a very rewarding achievement for me. Though having a daughter, I am conscious of the messages I send her when I stand on the scales most mornings, particularly as she has started to mimic me.

    • Thanks for sharing this. It sounds like regardless of how difficult it is, you’re striking a good balance for you and your daughter. I wish you the best and healthiest of wishes!

  8. lexa says:

    @Ice_Badger – Your rant was a good and necessary one. I am so sick and tired of reading ads in print and online about unrealistic “gimmicks” on how to loose weight quick. The solution is to live a healthy lifestyle: Eat healthy meals & incorporate some form of physical fitness into the routine.

    Move, Eat, Create… Excellent post! Like you for most of my life, I had a small frame. A few years back, I had surgery and could not workout for a few months. I gained weight and weighed more than I did when I was 9 months pregnant with my oldest daughter. For the first time in my life, I moved up to double digits in clothes size. I felt horrible, lacked energy, and hated the extra weight. Regardless, some people (including family) told me they “liked me with the extra weight.”

    Once I recovered, I went back to a better diet and slowly went back to running. As the inches dropped not all comments were complimentary and I was also asked, “why?”

    Feminists or any other woman should NOT have to justify or explain why we chose to take control of our life. Thanks for a great post!

  9. saltedplates says:

    This is an amazing post, kudoos to you for sharing. As another strident feminist, I often feel I need to play down my opinions in the blog world. Health is health and no one should be concerned that you care about yourself.

  10. plainmama says:

    So, crazy how weight centric our society is. I have been on both sides of the coin. As a teenage girl wanting to emulate all the images in those glossy patriarchal magazines, I developed an eating disorder. One I will probably always battle. When getting pregnant I knew I could not even allow thoughts of food restriction into my life and, therefore, threw all caution to the wind. Four pregnancies of such behavior does not to a body well. It was running that changed my perspective. It made me see food for what it really is, fuel. And it showed me how important it was to our bodies. If I eat too little, my energy suffers. If I eat too much, I suffer with bloated heavy intestines while trying to move. Similar to Just a Running Chick, my weight is not what people would expect. My size looks much smaller than what my weight actually is. So keep doing what your doing and find what is healthy for you 🙂

  11. Joanne says:

    LOVE this post and I think it’s something so many women struggle with! The balance between being confident and happy with themselves, while still wanting to change themselves a bit.

  12. Stephanie says:

    Thanks for sharing. It’s challenging, especially because I know professionally that excess fat tissue (i.e. being clearly obese rather than being 10 lbs overweight) is inherently inflammatory and damaging to most if not all people’s long-term health, to wrestle with the fat-acceptance movement. yes, not fitting the crazy model of corporate beauty should be socially accepted by all, however you break the mold. But it’s also really important to respect your body as a tool and, honestly, how it functions. Should there be stigma or bullying? No. Should people b paid less, or be less likely to marry? Absolutely not. On the other hand, society also needs to provide a healthy eating environment (infrastructure and social structure) that supports maintaining a normal weight and just “accepting” isn’t going to get us that healthful environment. I had a group of people not pressure me to accept a piece of cake recently, and it was honestly really unexpectedly wonderful. They just went on serving cake to other people. They didn’t ask why, they didn’t say “just a bite”. This is so rare, but why?

  13. Loved this post. It completely resonated with me… Although I was sad when I saw the sock photo was a stock photo. I want socks like that. 🙂

  14. colossalgarbage says:

    Fantastic post! I can definitely relate. And it took a conscious decision on my part after hitting rock bottom to say, “Ok, Laura. Time to make a change.” Staying active and involved with other runners definitely helps, not only for helpful info but just plain old positive reinforcement.

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