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Kings Mountain, North Carolina, United States
"A mind lively and at ease" is a blog by a first-generation Russian-Ukrainian immigrant Maria K. (Maria Igorevna Kuroshchepova). An engineer by education, an analyst by trade, as well as a writer, photographer, artist and amateur model, Maria brings her talent for weaving an engaging narrative to stories of life, fashion and style advice, book and movie reviews, and common-sense and to-the-point essays on politics and economy.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

You can be anything you want

The subject came up in the comments both from one of my own sites and from one of my subscriptions: is it really all that terribly wrong to be thin? The comments were made in response to the pushback by so many women against the super-skinny modeling industry. As it frequently happens with just about any group, it only took a few to give the rest of the thin people a bad name. Sadly, those few are the ones that get all the publicity: the books, the TV spots, the interviews, the botched plastic surgeries, the model suicide stories, etc.

My personal stance is that you can be anything you want... as long as you are not hurting yourself in the process. This applies to people of all shapes and sizes. It's completely fine to be thin, if you are that way naturally. High metabolism does happen, and there are plenty of people out there who can eat anything they like and never gain an ounce. I can understand the frustration of those naturally-slender gals who get bombarded by questions as to whether they are bulimic or on a diet.

By the same token, I vehemently disagree with those who starve themselves or take pills to get down to and stay at a size they weren't meant to be to start with. I am not sure what it would take to finally get the message through to the fashion world that we are tired of looking at what Edna Mode of The Incredibles describes as "stick figures with poufy lips". However, until models start coming in all shapes and sizes, please use common sense. If constant dieting and kill-yourself exercise is driving your life, then you probably shouldn't be doing it.

On the other side of the spectrum are the big gals who are healthy and fit, yet no-one ever talks about them. Yes, a lot of our population is overweight - and much of it has already had health set-back because of it. However, there are those who are just naturally larger. A few years ago one of the MSN.com contributors has written a wonderful article on the subject. She was a big girl, yet she was a long-distance runner and has been on a volleyball team since high school, she had no issues commonly associated with weight, such as diabetes or high blood pressure. The authors frustration came from being badgered by people who barely knew her, telling her she should be on a diet.

To some extent, I can relate to that woman. I lost inches around my waist, but became larger at the shoulders and gained weight as a result of martial arts training and other exercise. Muscle is heavier than fat, but for some reason the BMI tables everyone seems to rely on don't take that into consideration. So, now, based on my height and weight, I am considered overweight as are many other athletes, are heavy for their height because of muscle mass. This means that, when getting life or health insurance for example, people like me could get rated up because of the BMI that falls into the "overweight" portion of the table. How is that fair?

The same principle applies here as with the thin group: if you are a healthy, fit, physically active person who just happens to be large - big kudos to you! Keep it that way! But if your extra pounds are causing you to have high blood pressure, shortness of breath, diabetes, or any other health problems, it's time to start keeping a closer eye on what you put into your organism and what you do to burn it off. It's time to set aside the potato chips and start parking at the spot as far removed from the mall entrance as possible.

Extremes are good for anyone. So, make it your mission to find your own natural balance, where you can maintain a healthy lifestyle and a positive self-image. If someone makes a comment based on prejudice and lack of information, do your best not to get frustrated but educate that person instead. If he or she takes time to listen and understand - great! And if not? Then you are dealing with persistent ignorance, which is not worth getting frustrated about.

2 comments:

Julie said...

"Your own natural balance" is certainly the key. Healthy body shapes come in all different sizes - not just thin. The sooner we all realise that one the better!

Maria K. said...

Apparently, our ancestors knew this as recently as 19th century. The whole thing about 17" waists is a fallacy. Listen to this - this is from "The Etiquette of Dress" assembled from style experts of Victorian and Edwardian era, "If you lace [your corset] tightly, nothing can save you from acquiring high shoulders, abnormally large hips, varicose veins in your legs, and a red nose!

"No adult woman's waist ought to measure less in circumference than twenty-four inches at the smallest, and even this is permissible to slender figures only."