Since I was 13 years old my New Year’s resolution has been to lose weight. Sad, I know. Such is the plight of the insecure female. Granted, I have lost weight and gained weight and lost again over the years but never because of my New Year’s resolution. It kind of discredits the whole resolution concept doesn’t it? Yeah, for me too. For the past couple of years I just stopped making one. On midnight of December 31st of every year I would kind of mutter to myself in a wishy-washy way “yeah, I’ll lose weight this year, yeah I’ll eat healthy, yeah I’ll stick with it.” Wow, sounds so convincing, right? One of my all-time favorite quotes is a super famous one by Goethe. Brad introduced me to this quote when we first started dating and it’s one of the reasons I knew he was a keeper. Actually what happened is it the quote was framed, hanging on his bathroom wall. Kind of a strange thing to read as you’re going to the bathroom, but inspiring nonetheless:
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”
“Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.” I mean, come on, who writes this stuff? It’s amazing. I have never been fully committed to weight loss and that is the reason I have never achieved it to a satisfying degree. However, I have a pretty good reason for never committing. It’s not an excuse, but it’s a reason.
I hate that women are plagued by the pressure to lose weight. It’s as simple as that. I hate it. Here’s the part where you say “Oh dear, here we go, another journal entry about the unjustness of being a woman. Woe is me. Oh the humanity. Real women have curves.” Blah blah blah. I know you’ve heard it all before, but not necessarily from me. I think that this is an issue we need to consider. I believe that we lose an ounce of power with each ounce of weight that we agree to lose. Whoa! Rebecca is getting all super-feminist on us now, AND she’s talking in the third person. Be afraid. Get out your barbecues out cuz I’m ready to burn some bras! In all seriousness, please read on, dear reader. This is important to me.
Yes, health is important, I get it; but come on ladies, it’s not health we’re obsessing over, is it? Health is the acceptable excuse when what we’re really all thinking is, I want to look thin. For some people, health is the reason. I totally get that. Some people have obesity, diabetes, certain types of cancer that run in their families and even a little bit of extra weight can exacerbate those risks. To those people I say yes, it’s fantastic that you are taking precautions to avoid disease. Good on ya! But let’s get serious. Almost every woman I know would like to lose weight and most of said ladies are pretty gosh darn healthy. I know it sounds cliche but why are we ladies so uncomfortable with our bodies? The funny thing is, there’s this huge gap on the spectrum of confident women. It’s never girls like me, who are maybe a little bit overweight, pretty curvy, and also pretty average, who are happy with their bodies and singing its praises from the rafters. It’s usually either the stick thin Malibu Barbies who are flaunting as much skin and silicone as humanly possible, or it’s the Monique’s of the world who just want to jiggle their junk with pride until the cows come home. What’s wrong with we average ladies? Why aren’t we proud feeling average? Average is what women through the centuries have looked like. Average is beautiful. Have you ever seen a Botticelli! Can you imagine Kate Moss making that impression in the Renaissance?
Most of the world’s population of women wear between a size 8 and a size 14. Come on ladies, we’re the majority, let’s own it! I really see this as an epidemic. The masses of women in the western world have been programmed to want to lose weight for really no other reason than conditioning and peer pressure. Am I wrong?
Disclaimer: this post is obviously from the point of view of a girl who has been curvy all of her life, BUT, I know there are plenty of ladies out there who CAN’T gain weight no matter how hard they try; and that provides its own set of insecurities. You ladies are gorgeous too. In a nutshell, I think women are frickin’ gorgeous and awesome in any shape or size and I want us to embrace the fact that we’ve got one body to live in. Let’s enjoy it. End disclaimer
Now let’s venture into the lion’s den, Hollywood. Most successful ladies, especially in the entertainment industry, are much thinner than average. I get it. I feel the pressure, believe you me. It keeps me up at night. But you know what, the only way that Hollywood will ever begin to reflect what an average woman looks like is if we average ladies are truly satisfied and happy with our bodies. Then we wouldn’t pay to see stick-thin bobble-heads on the big screen because we would snap out of the Splenda-induced coma we all seem to be in and realize that those girls look TOO skinny. We have all drunk the Diet Kool Aid and Hollywood will continue to exploit that until we realize what strength in numbers means. I again must reference the Bug’s Life metaphor I used in a previous blog entry. We outnumber those stick-thin Hollywood starlets about a million to one, and the day we realize that and demand some representation, that could change the Hollywood game in a major way. We’d see a lot more Christina Hendricks’s, Jennifer Hudson’s (before she sold her soul to Weight Watchers), Toni Collette’s and Kate Winslet’s all over the place and a lot less Keira Knightley’s.
I’ve been wishy-washy about my New Year’s resolution because secretly I resent it. Or I guess not so secretly now. I not-so-secretly resent that almost every woman I know is trying to lose weight. You look beautiful gals, you do. And if you’re worried about romance, don’t. The guys think you look great too. I won’t speak for all guys, but I do believe that most guys care MUCH less about a few extra pounds than we do. MUCH LESS! When I drop or gain 5 pounds and point it out to my boyfriend, he has no idea what I’m talking about. Men will never scrutinize us women as much as we scrutinize ourselves. Forgive the hetero-centric nature of this comment. I say this merely from a personal reference point. Most of my life, I thought in order for a guy to like me I had to be skinny. I actually thought that. I can’t believe how many years of my life I wasted thinking that. Ironically, I met the love of my life at my most opposite of skinny. Go figure.
So why am I talking about this? It is related to running, I promise. As I’ve struggled over the years to lose weight for my acting career, various people have suggested I look at it like an athlete. I could go on and on about how offensive that is to me. A swimmer can’t perform at the same level as Michael Phelps without accomplishing a low BMI as part of his training, it’s true. That makes sense. But to compare that to acting? I’m sorry, I thought acting was about telling human stories, and not about looking a certain way, fitting into a certain size, or being a certain shape. It makes my blood boil. Basically it’s like saying that a prerequisite for being an actor is you have to be thin and you can’t even get in the game until you are. I understand why it would be impossible to win a Gold Medal for speed skating if you had an extra 20 pounds on you; but I don’t see what my hip size has anything to do with whether I can play my objectives. So please don’t tell me to compare losing weight for my career to being an Olympic athlete. If you do one of those SAT analogy tests it looks like this, a low BMI is to Professional Sports as Losing Weight is to Being an Actor. That’s annoying. See paragraph 8.
Things have shifted for me this year. I have always been resistant to losing weight for my acting career for all of the reasons I stated above. Now that I’m a runner, however, I understand the need to lose weight for the athletic output. So there, I said it. After that diatribe about empowering the ladies to embrace their booties, I’m saying that I need to lose weight. I just wanted to make it exhaustively clear that it’s not because of Hollywood, pop culture pressures, or my “health” (I haven’t been sick in over two years, my blood pressure is insanely good, and I can run a Half Marathon, so I think my health is pretty stellar). I need to lose weight because I am obsessively frustrated with my running time and I know what’s holding me back is weight. I can’t cut an 11 minute mile. When I was in college and weighed 10 pounds less, I was breaking under a 10 minute mile. The reason is clear. My aerobic health is great. I don’t feel painfully tired after a long run, my legs feel strong, my breathing is strong, that’s all great. I cannot get my body to move as fast as I want without weighing less. It’s simple, painful, annoying, physics.
So that’s my story folks. I’m going to lose 20 pounds this year because I want to beat last year’s time at the Disneyland Half Marathon. I want to perform at the most optimal version of my athletic self. If you want to send me encouraging words about losing weight as a recreational athlete, I’m all for it. Just don’t say anything about acting 😉