When I was a kid, my Dad used to criticize my body. I was too big for his liking. Considering the fact that most Asian women are thin, I was a bit of an abnormality in a size 12 body. I remember him telling me that I should be able to wrap my hand around my ankle and that my fingers should touch. When I was in college, my roommate was a very thin woman who said, “Fumiko, I’m a size 0 and even I can’t make my fingers touch.”
I remember those days of criticism and even as I heard them, I knew that my father was wrong. I knew that if there was one thing he was wrong about, he could be wrong about a lot of things.
I grew to hate diets. But I confused diets with good eating and ate terrible food with unregulated abandon. Only years later did I find a good place for me in terms of food and enjoy my healthy options with such gusto that I could cry at a well-prepared sandwich.
But that unrealistic tape measure that society sometimes uses is still prevalent and quite dangerous.
Enter the thigh gap: the gap that became the Holy Grail of supposed beauty and a measure of thinness among young girls. All I see is fodder for unhealthy practice and imagery. And unless I’m a gynecologist, I don’t look between my legs to see if I’m a nutritiously-balanced example of good eating habits. I look at my speed output on the treadmill. I look at what I’ve eaten and see if I can last a two-hour workout on that energy reserve. I see if I can bench press more weight for at least a set. I check with my new best friend, my dietitian.
And I have a doughnut once in a while. The one with rainbow sprinkles on top.
I have known people with eating disorders and I just wish people would stop with the comparisons with the unattainable, the unrealistic and the unabashed shamelessness with which society has reworded, “You’re ugly.”
Because that sort of attitude has a young 17-year-old coming up to me in the gym, saying how she wants to be like me because she does not think she is pretty enough just the way she is.
Shame on you for teaching people the ugliest form of supposed beauty.