Weight in the Balance

I admit it; I’ve always been a little too obsessed with health and wellness. Some would say that this obsession tends toward an unhealthy mental state, but I beg to differ. I feel that I’m preserving the health of my family in a world of insanity. What we, in the U.S., put in our bodies and call food is complete garbage. The list of chemicals and carefully hidden poisons in packaged foods is astonishing. Although more and more parents are aware of the hidden dangers of feeding their children such national delicacies as Cheetos, too many simply don’t care. It’s no wonder, then, that we are growing into an obese nation.

I would never have thought this an appropriate subject for my writing blog, it being my own private and familial frustration, until I read this article. I realize that it’s a Guardian UK article, but that makes very little difference. What’s true for them is also true for so, and we are, perhaps, a fatter nation than the UK. If you didn’t click the link and read the article, I’ll clue you in. Within the genre of chick lit, the size and shape of the heroines is changing to reflect the population. Rather than skinny Bridgets worrying about their weight, we now have heroines who are overweight–fat, even–and not worried about it at all.

Female readers are rejoicing at this trend. After all, fantasy is even better when it involves a heroine molded in our own image. What I find disturbing about it is the mantra, which I’ve heard dozens of times, and which comes from the movie thus-called, real women have curves. Do they, indeed? The trend, here, is not just to be curvy, but obese. From what I’ve gleaned on the CDC site, the average height for women in the U.S. has increased to 5’4″, and the average weight has gone up to an astonishing 164 lbs (see this article if you don’t believe me). I’m three inches above the average height, and I can’t imagine feeling well while carrying that much extra weight.

Many of my female friends battle with their weight, and I think there is nothing wrong with them, or the way they look. These are the kind of women who have birthed a few babies and deserve to have a little extra on their hips and thighs, and they generally do, despite their attempts to eat well and exercise. Obesity is a different problem, though, and I don’t think we should whole-heartedly accept it and revel in it. Instead, we need to look at the problem and find a cure for it. I don’t give a flying fig about negative body image; all women, fat and skinny alike, have demented minds when it comes to their own bodies. What is needed is a diet overhaul. We need to eat whole foods and nix the chemical additives and stay active and happy.

As for chick lit, a heroine is as a heroine does. Personally, even though I’ve read Bridget Jone’s Diary a dozen or more times, I think she’s a pathetic heroine, and it has nothing to do with her weight. She’s clueless and addicted to everything; she has no self-control and very few skills. Whether she’s skinny or fat makes very little difference to me. What I want is a heroine I can relate to on an emotional level, not a physical one. Clearly, I must relate to Bridget, or I wouldn’t have read the book so many times. So have countless other women of all body types and sizes.

But don’t listen to me. I’m nothing but a skinny cow. What about you? What appeals to you in a heroine?


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