Which Is It? Accept Your Body or Not?

I was reading the Tuesday, October 11, 2011 issue of the USA Today and came across an article about large-size actresses in Hollywood becoming more commonplace, and more highly decorated. Case in point, Melissa McCarthy of Mike & Molly who won an Emmy recently. she is beautiful and overweight. Whereas in the past years, the vast majority of successful actresses were size 0 or maybe a 2, these days, you see many more larger-sized actresses.

One actress, Garourey Sidibe, said “One day I had to sit down with myself and decide that I loved myself no matter what my body looked like and what other people thought about my body.”

 She is very beautiful and also overweight. (You notice I didn’t say “beautiful, but overweight” as many people referred to me and other overweight people.)

I found her quote very interesting, because that’s one place where I never could get to in my mind.

Not to say that I did not try. Over and over I tried to convince myself that I was okay and happy with where I was in terms of my weight. I went through periods of time where I bought a few nice pieces of clothing and wore makeup more regularly to try and embrace my new, overweight body.

Then there were other times where I just gave up and wore old jumpers with ugly shirts underneath. I stopped wearing contacts and just put my old glasses on everyday. Even within those “giving up” times, there must have been a part of me that believed I could lose the excess weight.

Where is the line between accepting who you are, and trying to get to a healthy weight? Granted actresses have a special challenge because millions of people access them every single second of the day.

However, everywhere I went as an overweight person, people were judging me too. They just didn’t write about me or take my picture and put it on the Internet. (Thank goodness.)

There are health risks to obesity. We may not all like to hear that, but most medical professionals agree that type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, increased risk of cardiovascular diseases and high cholesterol are often more common in the overweight. Not always, but enough to be statistically significant.

I feel like I can be frank, because frankly – I’ve been there.

It’s not easy being overweight whether you are a famous actress or a regular homeschooling homemaker like I was at the time. It’s not easy losing weight either.

How about beautiful Ms. Sidibe’s comment. I like that she said that she said that she wanted to “love herself” no matter what she looked like on the outside. That is really, really important.

I feel like I never really got there when I was obese. I never would have said that I “loved myself” in spite of my weight, but I wish I had. It’s one of those regrets that I face – even now after 13 years of maintenance.

Where are you on this issue? Can you love yourself and stay at a weight that may be detrimental to your health? Can you love yourself and not lose enough weight to be in a healthy range? Is there one answer for everyone? Diane

 

 

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Comments

  1. Michele T says:

    I think it’s more about accepting where you are at a given moment than it is about actually accepting that you’re overweight and unhealthy. Fighting it and not accepting where we might be today is going to make moving toward health a far more difficult battle than if we stop, assess, and accept where we are today.

  2. In all honesty, I go back and forth on this one. But I don’t totally buy the size acceptance theory as anything other than a coping strategy to try to convince others of something one is unable to reconcile within themselves. If we genuinely love or even like ourselves, we will do all we can to make ourselves the best we can be and that includes finding and maintaining a healthy weight. It’s not about vanity or being a smaller size – it’s about quality of life or early death.

    I like who I am, but I am also very aware that when at goal weight, I am a more confident person who meets each day knowing I’ve faced a huge challenge, conquered it and can encourage others by my example rather than by my words. It’s also about lots of energy, stamina and strength.
    Sharon recently posted…More Observations From the RockMy Profile

  3. I love the person I am on the inside, but I don’t love the house my personality lives in. ;) When I read overweight people saying things such as this, it always makes me wonder if it’s really true. I mean, haven’t we also read about how people that have lost weight tell us how they were miserable, depressed and hated their bodies – but always put on a happy face? I hope she is happy, and that it’s sincere, the most important thing is what she feels like going to bed every night. I know all my worries and fears come up at that time, no matter how hard I’ve tried to ignore them during the day!
    Maren recently posted…Sneaking scales, gratitude and the Hordnes Forest!My Profile

    • That is so true. I remember many nights lying in bed thinking about how unhappy I was with how I looked. It was a hard place to be.

  4. Great no awesome post Diane…I have gone through all the hoops and stages of this question. Loving myself, accepting myself, respecting myself are all pieces to the puzzle…and if you look at it as you would look at a child or a loved one…can you love them, accept them and respect them when there are still things about them that you don’t necessarily like? Most of us, I think, would say yes…and then there are the deal breakers….

    Weight loss is coming along for me as I stop separating the parts of me into the body part and the emotional part. I accept myself and I am learning to love myself but it has not been until I CARED for myself that things started to change…

    It’s the self-care for me that is turning things around.
    Big Girl Bombshell recently posted…Come Hell or High WaterMy Profile

  5. I don’t think there’s one answer for everybody.
    I too could not accept myself when I was obese. It was just too difficult to accept myself the way I was because I wasn’t happy with how I looked at all. I could never accept myself the way I was and I think that is also something that pushed me through my weight loss. Cause I know that if I don’t, then I will stay obese and not be happy (love myself) like I suppose to.
    blackhuff recently posted…If you work, I have respect for youMy Profile

  6. Diane, this is a great post and a subject very near and dear to my heart.

    I do think there is one basic answer for everyone and that is we need to love ourselves just as we are, but at the same time realize loving doesn’t mean not taking care of ourselves. Unfortunately, I think we as a society want to love ourselves, but not to the point of admitting we need to change (gosh, in many areas..not just weight).

    It bothers me greatly how the media’s recent acceptance of larger women focuses on the very unhealthy, obese women. They bounce between two extremes – unhealthily thin and unhealthily overweight. I’m glad they see beauty in very large women, I know some very beautiful overweight women myself, but that’s not healthy, nor is it a good example.

    I know I’ve still a long way to go to reach my goal/healthy weight, but I also know that the beginning of my weight loss journey was the day I learned to love myself if I never lost another pound. Soon after I came to that point I began to realize that loving does not equal allowing myself to overindulge and not take care of my body. Whether I liked admitting it or not I had a self-indulgence problem that needed correcting or it was going to lead me down the path of joint problems and diabetes like the women in my family history.

    Many people say their self-hatred is what motivated them to lose the weight, but I’ve seen repeatedly where those are the same people who continue to be unhappy with how they look even though they are at their goal weight. I always worry that if the motivation to lose weight is to finally love yourself what will happen if sickness, pregnancy or stress in life causes some weight to come back on? Will you hate yourself again? It makes me sad to say that, yes, I’ve seen people who fall back into thinking they are ugly because they put some weight back on due to those very circumstances.

    I’m sorry for taking so long..like I said you hit a subject near to my heart. I do wish we as a society could learn to see the beauty in all shapes and sizes of people and love them for who they are, but I feel the media has not found the balance between loving large figures and condoning overindulgence.

  7. Losing weight and getting healthy was not because I loved myself, but because I loved my daughter. I realized that I was a terrible role model for her. She is what gave me the motivation to do something about being obese. I began my weight loss journey when she was 5. She really does not remember me at my heaviest. Now that I am healthy the motivation comes from me loving myself and the life I have. I continue to be a role model for my daughter, but I have learned over the years to love myself and respect myself. That is where my motivation comes from now. Do I wish I had loved myself- perhaps- but I don’t know if it would have been a strong enough love to put in all the hard work and dedication that was necessary. The love of my daughter was enough!
    Jill recently posted…Scratching my HeadMy Profile

  8. Be happy where you are and strive to improve has worked for me. The many health problems associated with excess weight are, unfortunately, a given.

  9. I don’t think loving or accepting yourself means you should be satisfied with being overweight and not make efforts to lose weight. I think it’s quite the opposite. You need to love yourself enough to take action and lose weight. Improving yourself doesn’t mean you don’t love or accept yourself.
    Laura Jane @ Recovering Chocoholic recently posted…Beware of large packages!My Profile

  10. Well this one is a huge question. Certainly being happy and being thin are not mutually dependent. However, I see all too often the “I’m big, beautiful, and love my huge body” is an outward statement to excuse poor habits more than anything else.
    Joe recently posted…Ask A Running CoachMy Profile

  11. Unfortunately for me it was a health issue. It wasn’t about “loving my body as it was” it was about being obese with serious medical issues. I was killing myself with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.
    Lisa recently posted…Traveling SmartMy Profile

  12. I think you can love yourself at a higher weight, but I also think that you can eat properly to take care of yourself and your weight will come down. That is part of loving yourself.
    You may never be stick thin, but you can be much healthier.
    Lori recently posted…YTWL and victory meal!My Profile

  13. I think sometimes people seem to confuse acknowledgement with acceptance. Whatever physical situation someone is in, all people deserve human respect, but there’s nothing wrong with picking something about yourself that you want to work on. I’m currently killing myself to learn to play a viola, but no one’s told me that I’m obviously not satisfied with and loving my non-viola-playing self. It’s something I want to do, and it’s worth the expense and time spent on doing it, and the obsession I need to cultivate. Weight is so connected to the physical being one lives in that it’s hard to tease all those threads apart sometimes; in any other self-improvement project, the distinction is more obvious.

    I guess that’s why people say that getting to a healthy weight is something you need to do for yourself. If you’re doing it to make nasty people like you, that IS an act of self-hatred or believing that the people who have given you a hard time are right about you. I’ve never been put through hell for NOT playing a viola, so refusing to learn isn’t some statement against oppression. I can easily see how refusing to work towards achieving a healthy weight could feel like an act of bold defiance in that situation. But ultimately, it’s not the nasty people’s pancreases that are going to give out if someone stays at an unhealthy weight.

  14. I have to say also — and this may be a controversial thing to observe — that all of this stuff seems to attach itself in a particularly sticky way to women. When large men achieve a healthy weight and become more fit, oftentimes women will really praise the living daylights out of them and call them inspirational. When a large woman does the same, she can sometimes be accused of making other women feel bad about themselves. I’ve seen more than a few instances of women leaving “your successful weight loss oppresses me” or “how dare you not accept yourself” types of comments on other women’s blogs, and I’ve never seen a similar types of comments left on a man’s blog by a woman. (It may happen, but not nearly as often.) Women’s blogs will also sometimes talk about some “skinny blond b*tch” even in an ironic way, but I’ve never seen a woman talk about fighting resentment for a skinny UPS delivery guy, for example.

    There are sometimes some poisonous ways in which women keep one another down or interfere with each another’s projects for self-improvement, sometimes even without intending to, and I think this can surface in this situation. It’s a shame.

    • I found that for myself as well. A LOT of my acquaintances made me feel bad about losing weight. Not because I lost the weight, but because they hadn’t.

  15. It’s such a find line with being healthy and being obsessive, and with having good self esteem and overlooking your health. It’s a balance I think every woman (and maybe man?) struggles with these days!

    I really, really like Leah’s comment above and couldn’t have said it better myself.
    Lara recently posted…An Open Letter to Kate MiddletonMy Profile

  16. I can love myself and still want to change my behavior …not just in terms of weight but also in terms of whom I want to be as a person. I don’t feel like I hated myself and that’s why I gained weight … what I did do was give up on working to keep myself healthy. And I didn’t give up because I didn’t think I was worth it; I gave up because it was easier to not exercise and to eat whatever I wanted whenever I wanted.
    Siobhan recently posted…2 of 21My Profile

  17. I think you raise a very interesting point. And as much as I agree that loving one’s self regardless of size or appearance is a good thing, I also do think of the health aspects.
    Karen@WaistingTime recently posted…I’m All ThumbsMy Profile

  18. I love what DR. J & Lori wrote & yes this is a sensitive subject. Glad you wrote about it. I think there were a couple comments about loving yourself first. I have to say that I did not even like myself when I lost my weight. I just wanted to get it off & be happier & at my young age when I did it, I wanted to date & all that type of crap. Yes, losing weight does not solve those probs but I do think you can start the process without “loving yourself” first & hopefully with time you will learn to like & love yourself no matter what size you are…
    Jody – Fit at 53 recently posted…Skinny ChocChip Cookie & Skinny Apple CrispMy Profile

  19. I think it’s important not to let your self worth be determined by your weight.

    I don’t think accepting your self and loving yourself as a larger person is a pass to not do something about being over weight for health reasons.
    Tami@nutmegnotebook.com recently posted…Split Pea Beef & Barley SoupMy Profile

  20. Health is alot better than being skinny….
    But we don’t know until it’s going… going…. gone!
    Even a little bit “less healthy” makes a big impact!
    Still the debate goes on!

    • Don’t you wonder if it will ever stop? The debate I mean. Even a 10 percent weight loss can make a difference for a lot of people. Great point.

  21. LovesCatsinCA says:

    “Where is the line between accepting who you are, and trying to get to a healthy weight?”

    Diane,

    I think the answer is different for everyone. If you’re a member of a big framed family where every single member in generations past has been rather generously proportioned, but you’ve grown up on lots of lean protein and vegetables and unprocessed foods and you are active, and no one in the family has a history of diabetes, cancer or heart disease, then I see no point in trying to achieve something that probably isn’t in your genes to achieve. I also think that a thin person with a fast metabolism and healthy BMI who smokes and eats junk food and is sedentary, is probably less healthy than the technically overweight person who is active and eats a healthy diet.

    On the other hand, I don’t agree with the “health at every size” folks for this reason: At my very peak weight, I was overweight by American BMI standards and obese by Japanese (my heritage) standards. (Asian BMI standards are more strict because disease occurs at lower weight thresholds statistically than for other races, probably because the frame size and natural build tends to be more slender, so normal is 18 to 23, overweight goes up to 25 and any BMI over 25 is obese.) And I did pay for it with really high blood pressure–what is called “stage 2″ that is normally only controllable through medication but which I lowered with losing weight.

    Now, this didn’t happen in my 20s, when I was gaining a little weight… or in my 30s when I gained a little more…I only had quantifiable health repercussions once I was in my 40s. And gaining “only a pound or two” when it happens year after year, adds up. So for those who have healthy blood tests who are young, I say–but you’re not going to stay young. And odds are, your weight will continue to creep up unless you do a lifestyle change.

    BMI and weight numbers also aren’t everything. When my weight crept up a point on the BMI scale (which only takes 5 pounds of relaxed vigilance, unfortunately…) my blood pressure hit 140/90 recently. So I’ve been working on getting the weight back off–but I was at a BMI UNDER 23, the top limit of “normal” for those of us with Asian heritage. If I can have negative health repercussions for gaining 5 pounds within what is statistically “normal” and eating 85-90% “healthy” and exercising regularly, then unhealthily overweight for me is within “normal” for others…I think there are people for whom being 30 or 40 pounds overweight will have no negative health repercussions at all–and perhaps that higher weight for them is healthy even if it’s not considered within the “normal” range. But statistically speaking, you’ll find a lot less people who are normal weight who get type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure–but there will be some–and you’ll find more who are overweight and obese–although you’ll find some in that category who are healthy.

    So yes, love and accept your body please… but also love your body enough to take good care of it if you have a family history of any overweight/obesity related diseases. Some people can be healthy and 10 or 20 pounds or 30 pounds overweight. Some people need to be, like me, extra vigilant–which can be a challenge if, like me, you tend to eat when stressed. Also, I can’t eat the same amount of food I did 28 years ago if I want to weigh the same as I did then–which happens to be the weight I need to be to have blood pressure that my doctors are okay with… I’m not in school, I don’t have the luxury of being able to work out 3 hours a day, I’m older, and I carry less muscle.

    I don’t think people should be unhappy with their bodies because they don’t look like an airbrushed model. But I’m not sure anyone can be longterm healthy if being 80, 90, 100 pounds over the norm–even if other systemic diseases don’t happen, there are things like arthritis and the strain on one’s back and joints.

    What does your BODY want to look like? Feel like? Be able to do? I’m willing to bet most peoples’ bodies, if they could talk, would want to be able to move easily. They would want to feel good. They would want to have vitality and energy and be able to have fun. That can happen within a range of shapes and sizes, but it’s probably not the most extreme people at both ends of the spectrum who feel the best.

  22. This article hit too close to home for me. I have overweight daughters. I find they both love and accept their bodies even at their larger sizes in ways I do not understand because at my larger size I never accepted my body as beautiful – never. I still struggle with it more than I like to think about.

    Knowing the pain of obesity and never wanting them to experience the rejection I felt from others, I keep after them about their weight and in doing so, I am the one who causes the pain and rejection because my comments equal not accepting them as they are today.

    How does a mother watch her older children (late teens and 20s) becoming obese and NOT say anything that will cause them more anguish. Does anyone have an answer for that?

    Jane~
    Jane C recently posted…Changing TrainsMy Profile

  23. I have struggled with this same question all my life and even now after losing my weight.

    Should we love and accept ourselves knowingly we are killing ourselves silently? Why would society want us to accept this? I think if we were completely honest with ourselves we wouldn’t accept what society teaches us and listen to what our heart has always said “your overweight and you know you should lose it”.

    You brought out some thoughts that I might need to post about, thanks!
    Sheri @Motivation Health & Fitness recently posted…Go The DistanceMy Profile

  24. I have come to the point where I think health is pretty. Health isn’t the same size for everyone.. every person has different needs and body types! There are some people who eat junk food all day so they can have “pretty curves”, but that is not respecting one’s body by any means. If a person feels they are doing what is right for their body, I think that’s beautiful.. no matter what size! Awesome and very insightful post :)
    sarah@spinach and spice recently posted…Spreading the Love (Grown Foods)My Profile

  25. I believe that I am beautiful AND overweight. To me, that helps me to lose weight. I try to work from a positive place because negative motivation doesn’t work for me. I believe that a woman can be beautiful at any size, if she puts the effort out and tries to look her best. And believes that she can be beautiful. And from that place of confidence, she can be better motivated to lose weight.

    You have posed a very interesting question! With some great discussion.
    Sharilee recently posted…Back On The Road AgainMy Profile

  26. I see young women, and some not so young, maybe 30s and 40’s, who are4overweight, and this is what I think to myself, “Yeah, you’re moving fine NOW, your health is okay NOW, but wait until you’re 60!”
    Because I was that overweight young person and continued to be overweight through my 30’s, 40’s and most of my 50’s, before realizing that it didn’t matter if I liked myself or not (I DID NOT–I was just ashamed of what I had let myself become and humiliated and embarrassed), if I didn’t lose some weight, I was headed to an early grave. I would not be able to enjoy my retirement because I would be a prisoner in my own home, unable to walk on my own, forced to use a walker or even worse a wheelchair. My wonderful husband would be my caregiver instead of my companion. The thought of having to be dependent upon someone else for everything, made me say, “Enough is Enough.” At 59 years old, I started my journey to get healthy. Today, almost 2 years later and 185 pounds later, I am at a normal, healthy BMI and truly do love myself. I always loved the person I was inside I guess, but I simply could not get past the horror of what I had done to my body by overeating.
    I’m saying–yeah maybe she can like herself–and that’s great. I’m all for self esteem at any size. I’m just saying like yourself or not, if you lose the ability to move, or worse, end up dead from obesity complications, it doesn’t matter what you think of yourself.

  27. Karl Tisdal says:

    Since my latest trips to the doctor I have been a lot more concerned about my health.