According to the media, it’s impossible to be fat and female with high self-esteem. Over the years, we’ve watched Monique, Jill Scott, Raven Symone, and Jennifer Hudson represent the “big” girls with valor, style, and heads held high. They were confident, gorgeous performers, reaffirming Jill Scott’s mantra of “beautifully human.” As each of these women has lost considerable weight, the media’s coverage has focused on weight loss as a self-esteem booster instead of a health priority.
While slimmer, healthier figures are empowering, it’s quite possible that many women would choose to be fat and healthy if the two could coexist peacefully. Admittedly, mainstream magazines, TV programming, advertising, and films are saturated with images advocating “skinny as sexy.” It’s rare that you find an editorial spread that promotes fat as beautiful.
If humans could be fat without transforming into a disease magnet, surely the health community would embrace a variety of figures as healthy and acceptable. But unfortunately, human bodies were not built to harbor excess weight and retain health optimization. Clearly, Monique, Jill, Raven, and Jennifer have accepted this reality as they strive to keep fitness and nutrition as a high priority.
There’s no need to speculate whether or not these women lost weight for self-esteem versus health. Monique continuously credits her husband’s soft nudge to get her to lose weight, saying he wanted her “for a lifetime.” Jennifer Hudson has a similar story, claiming that she didn’t even recognize her weight as a political beauty statement until she started working in Hollywood; all of the sudden, she was representing the big girls. As overweight people surrounded her as a child, she cites her son as the reason that she chose to pursue weight loss. She wanted to be a shining example of good nutrition, active fitness, and a healthy lifestyle.
Similarly, Jill Scott became open to a leaner diet and workout regimen for her son. Reflecting upon her decision, she exclaimed, “There’s a world of discovery in his eyes, and I want to be around to enjoy it!” As motherhood and family have inspired each of these women, it feels as if “weight loss for health” continues to take a backseat to “look at [insert name]’s sexier figure.” Raven Symone shares, “I find it funny that people now come up to me and say, ‘Wow, you are absolutely gorgeous’. I’m like, ‘I was beautiful before I lost weight’. Egotistically speaking, I thought I was amazing.”
It’d be incredible to see the media refocus weight loss as a health issue instead of a beauty choice. While healthy always will be sexy, it’s more important that people recognize fitness, nutrition, and slimmer figures as a necessity instead of a political choice.
I had this exact same experience when I lost weight. For most of my teenage and adult life I have been a “bigger” girl (size 10-12). I put it in quotes because I know that’s a norm for a lot of women and it only ever seemed big because of my career – dance. When I lost weight (unintentionally) because of a lifestyle change (i was in grad school and had an intense movement schedule) all of a sudden people are talking about, “don’t you feel so much better about yourself?” umm, excuse me? That would imply that I always felt bad about myself. I always loved my body – had no issues with it. But all of sudden now my self esteem MUST be so much better. PLEASE! check out my full thoughts on the issue here: http://lovestutter.blogspot.com/2008/10/too-fat-to-dance.html
Thanks for pointing this out! It was bothering me, too. Slimming down for one’s health is a more positive and empowering message than slimming down in response to mean media. I think the mindsets of the women above will encourage young women to value themselves and their lives and, more importantly, to practice that value by taking care of themselves.
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I have to worry about the media obsession with children from parents of two different races, and the effect it has on my own family’s psyche and esteem. The last thing I’m worried about is weight.
Did anyone else notice how Simon looks an odd pale grey and only has one leg? I’d feel a lot better about every body type if the moment it reached paper it wasn’t obviously photoshopped or made up to fit into a beauty standard opposite of the person in the picture.
Simon isn’t healthy if her pallor is that of a dusty ghost. It seems there is a lot of bleaching of dark skinned women these days.
I do appreciate that these women aren’t trying to be stick thin. Healthy comes in all shapes and sizes.
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Good article, even though I think it s little miss guided. The media has reported on the risks involved with the excessive body fat for years. Not only has media reported on it but just about anyone that is overweight that has gone to a Dr has been instructed to loose a few pounds for there health’s sake.
This has been repeated over and over for years and still obesity has become an epidemic. I have been a fitness consultant for more then 20 years and from the thousands of customers I deal with only a small % are motivated by their ekg, glucose levels or blood pressure. No one wants to admit that they are ruled by vanity, but we all are.
So who cares what the reason is, lets be thankful for the results.