Do Not Just Go Buy New Clothes

My oldest daughter likes to read fashion blogs and glean all the latest fashion and hairstyle advice from other 20-somethings. I occasionally look over her shoulder as she is examining different fashion bloggers outfits or hair tutorials.

I was reading a fashion blog alongside my daughter the other day. The young, attractive blogger is in her early 20’s. She was lamenting on her blog that none of her fall clothes from last year fit her because she had put on a few pounds. She said something to the effect of, “It’s just part of growing up to gain weight, so I’ll just have to buy some bigger jeans and skirts.” And to be clear, she is not a size 2 moving into a size 4. She is already overweight and may even fall in the obese weight range. (I’m not linking to her blog because I definitely do not want to draw attention to her.)

I really want to open the discussion up on what is the new normal when it comes to weight gain.

When I read on her blog that she was just accepting her new size as part of the maturing process, I had two reactions. The first was “wow” and the second was sadness.

Has it come to the point in our society that gaining weight is just natural and normal? That gaining weight from overeating and inactivity is just to be expected and accepted? That gaining weight is no longer a big deal.

I hope not, but I fear that I my hope is in vain. I actually see this a lot, and did it myself to some extent, although the weight gain did bother me.

I completely understand what this young girl is feeling because I began to put on weight after I was married. I thought to myself, “Well, it’s just part of being married.” However, there was still a part of me that was concerned about the weight gain and I didn’t just buy a whole new wardrobe, but rather bought a few things and joined Weight Watchers. Sadly, I didn’t get the weight under control and just continued to gain.

The danger with just accepting that weight gain is normal and expected is that the numbers of people in the world who are overweight and obese will continue to rise. Not only is that bad for each of those people personally, but it is bad for society as a whole.

I obviously did not say anything to this young woman on her blog because she wasn’t asking for advice, nor do I know her. But I wonder if there is anyone in her life who might say to her, “Hey, instead of just buying new clothes, why don’t you come to the gym with me and work out.”

That’s what I fear is missing from this equation. I fear that society as a whole has accepted overweight and obesity as the norm now, and the majority of people just do not consider it a big deal any longer.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Do you see more and more acceptance of overweight/obese as okay? How do you think this affects our kids and young people? Diane

47 thoughts on “Do Not Just Go Buy New Clothes

  1. Amy says:

    That really is sad to hear, Diane. I do think there is a lot more acceptance of overweight being normal, and while on the one hand that is a good thing for kids and teens who are overweight in that they are no longer ostracized for being different or unacceptable, on the other hand, it is dangerous to look at obesity as a normal aspect of modern life because it causes so many health problems.

    It seems that a lot of young people today have the opposite problem that I had growing up. I always felt that my body was unacceptable and never good enough, and I struggled for years under this feeling to accept and love my body as it was. Has the pendulum swung to the other extreme? Can’t we all find a middle road where we love and accept our bodies yet do our best to feed and exercise them in a way that results in optimal health, which includes a safe, healthy weight?

  2. Karen p says:

    Because the types of foods she is eating, the non hunger reasons she eating creates weight gain. No trip to the gym or moving more can undo poor dietary choices.

    Wearing tight, ill fitting clothes fools no one. Set down the Standard American diet ( SAD) first while you start to move more. The try to the gym won’t hurt, but poor dietary choices will.

    Just moving more is probably not going to work. exercise will help the mental frame of mind , but that has to be secondary. My 2 cents and my life long weight problem started with putting down the SAD. Putting down the candy worked. I walked a half marathon at 60+ pounds overweight. I moved more, a lot more , but did not loose weight until I got rid of the candy, the wheat and the SAD.

  3. Karla says:

    With the tides shifting and more and more people are overweight and or obese, being a normal weight is more often looked upon as the odd man out. Being overweight is more “normal”
    that being a normal weight….. did I make sense?

    On the buying new clothes topic…. when I was bigger I would find something I liked and buy 2-4 of the article of clothing, 2 in the size I was now, and 2 in a size bigger. My thinking was I never ever tried on clothes (too embarrassing and depressing) so IF I would actually try on a garment and I liked it, SCORE!! and I had to be REAL, I knew I was only getting bigger so I would get 2 in a size larger than I currently was for a few months down the line, and of course there was the shrinkage factor…. all my clothes seemed to shrink an entire size…lol 😛

    I am so glad to have discovered the weight loss blog’s…. they are REALLY what saved me and helped me to get and stay on track

  4. Jody - Fit at 54 says:

    I am not sure we accept being overweight because there still is stigma out there. I think people themselves just accept it & maybe don’t want to do what you have to do to be healthy… for kids – that is the issue – their surroundings & home life – HUGE impact!

  5. Mannie says:

    I guess it depends on the age of the person. As a guesstimate, people’s bodies stop growing around the age of 23, although a search through Google images show that height stops increasing at an earlier age, but not muscle mass. Of course Diane has said that the blogger in question was already overweight.

    As to what is the “new normal”, 25 years ago I was wearing size medium mens shirts. Now I’m about to order my first size XS shirt. I weigh the same as then, but sizes have changed.

    I believe that young people need to be educated on something that some of them don’t know (yet), that is losing weight is extremely hard to do and has an extraordinarily high failure rate. In a similar way to telling people that cigarettes are addictive so maybe you shouldn’t start smoking, losing weight is extremely difficult so maybe you should actively try to maintain rather than passively gain weight and expect to lose it after Christmas/New Year. Of course that opens a large can of worms about education and I’d expect many people to disagree with me.

    • Megan says:

      I absolutely agree with you Mannie! As someone that has spent a lot of time around children, through family, friends and now work it is heart breaking to realise just how little they know and understand about what they are eating or how exercise can be healthy and fun. As with many other things it is a matter of prevention v’s the cure.

  6. Samantha Greene says:

    It’s pretty sad to me. I know exactly what you are saying because I’ve seen people do this. They just go from a size 14 to a size 16 or more and just say, “Oh, well – that’s what plus sized stores are for.”

    There doesn’t seem to be a huge incentive to stay at a healthy weight anymore – both for young people and older people.

    I agree with some of your readers that teens can be cruel, but it seems that once we pass the teen years (like this girl you are talking about) then there is no longer any real stigma associated with being “pleasingly plump.” Morbidly obese – yes, but not just slightly overweight.

    If it doesn’t change who knows what will happen. After all, people who are at a healthy weight are in the minority in America and in other parts of the world. Maybe the stigma will turn on them.

  7. diane s. says:

    Very complex question, as I just recently upgraded my wardrobe from a size 10 to a size 12. Believe me, I didn’t want to do it. But killing myself trying to lose the wait and stuff myself into my old pants was making me miserable.
    My boss and I were just commiserating about the fact we’ve each gained 15 pounds total over the past 3 years. I just don’t know how to manage it all. For two weeks this summer, I worked out 5 days a week. The stress got so bad from trying to keep all parts of my life in order that I started working out 3 days a week. This week I’ll be lucky if I make it once.
    I am aware I have a lot of work to do. I don’t eat fast food but I recognize that I eat a lot of sugar. I comfort with food and it’s a vicious circle. I am not obese, but if something doesn’t change, I will be. I just don’t know how to sustain the change. I don’t want this, but in the short term, upgrading my pants made the most sense.

  8. Lori says:

    It’s kind of hard when reading a blog to see what goes on behind the scenes. Maybe she was just acknowledging the weight gain in public. I am glad she didn’t beat herself up publicly, though. That is worse to me than being accepting. Of course, not having read it, I don’t know what her tone was.

    I find it more disheartening when I read people saying “I suck, I am a failure, I am a fat pig”.

    I hope that behind the scenes she is moving forward to be healthy. I am sure someone is going to comment on her blog. There is always someone to say something out there.

    I have decided that accepting something doesn’t necessarily mean you aren’t trying to do something about it or will to. However, there is that fine line between acceptance and complacency.

  9. Catherine M. says:

    I know that it can be hard to know what’s going on with someone, but I too like to read fashion blogs and think I know who you are talking about. The blogger I’m thinking about admits to eating lots and lots of restaurant meals and really does seem to think that gaining weight is just part of life as you get into your 20’s.

    I thought that too because all of my friends did the same thing after we graduated from college. It seemed normal, but I know that just because “everyone does it” does not mean it is a good thing.

    I’m glad you brought this up Diane because too many people don’t want to address the issue and seem to want to give everyone a free pass because there “may be more going on.” Please, the truth is that’s what’s going on is that our society is in love with Big. Big food, big cars, big movies. And as a result of the big food era, we are all getting bigger.

    The greater issue is addressing it and not sweeping it under the rug.

  10. Mark Adler says:

    I see this a lot, both among men and women. There absolutely is less of a stigma on being overweight. I think it is so discouraging to see young people just accepting it and buying bigger clothes rather than thinking about what their lives may be like in 20 years if they continue down the weight gain road.

    Believe me, I know. I have struggled with my weight for years and have suffered health-wise because of it. I really enjoy your blog and appreciate your honesty.

  11. Meg (@LadyMegSoprano) says:

    I think what there *is* a stigma on is putting that offer of help out there. People are worried they’ll offend this young woman if they say, “Hey, let’s work out together sometime!”

    My own mother knew that if she said anything about how worried she was about my weight gain that I would just shut down and ignore her. I had to be ready to hear it, and before I could be, I had to look at myself in the mirror and say, “This has gone too far. Let’s fix it.” And before I did that, I had a long streak of just accepting my weight gain as a normal part of post-college life, and of my “genetic makeup.”

    It’s a vicious cycle!

    • Diane Carbonell says:

      Good point about people hesitating to offer to workout or suggest healthier recipes. I had one friend who wasn’t afraid to offer to help, and although I didn’t appreciate it too much at the time, her words came back to me over and over again during the years I suffered with obesity. When I finally lost the weight, I told her how I really did appreciate how she always had confidence that I would lose the weight and was always encouraging me to keep trying.

    • C says:

      Diane now that I am losing weight I wish I had a freiend like yours for support but I agree with Meg that before I was ready to make that change myself any help offered would have made me feel bad and would likely put distance between me and that friend. Its a very difficult subject to approach with anyone no matter how close of a relationship.

  12. Sarah says:

    I’ve seen this too. The prevenence of obesity where I live in the South is very high. It’s so high that I’ve started to notice any restaurant we are in, the obese outnumber the normal weight people every time. Everyone wants you to eat more so they feel better about doing the same. And even as a doctor, I’ve started being excited when a patient is only overweight by BMI instead of Obese. Sad. I really notice a peer pressure among obese family members to “don’t feel bad about it” and relax.

    • Diane Carbonell says:

      I live in the South too and see the same thing. I have written before about how it is easy to overeat when you are in a group of people who are all partaking of fried foods, desserts, and high calorie appetizers. It takes discipline to stay true to what you know you should be eating.

  13. KarenJ says:

    I definitely believe that there is greater tolerance for overweight than in the past and that it has become almost acceptable. Sometimes I feel that as a slimmer person I am actually outside the “norm” for my age group (over 50). When I started my weight loss journey this last time I was a size 12 but none of my friends considered me to be overweight even though I weighed 152 at 5’3″. Now that I’ve lost 22 pounds, with a few to go, very few people have noticed or at the least commented on my lower weight. I also noticed that last time I weighed 152 I was a size 14, so I think the clothing sizes have changed to accommodate our new tolerance to being overweight. It doesn’t quite sting as much to be a size 12 or 14, so there’s no motivation to lose weight. I also think that many of the illnesses that are associated with being overweight such as diabetes and other physical ailments are also becoming more acceptable especially among people my age (it’s just a part of getting older). Scary stuff!

  14. Joy says:

    I will have disagree with this although most of my friends are at a normal body weight even my friends and family including me who are overweight/obese are trying to lose weight or put exercise as a priority. I think this girl must know what she looks like and it is sad that she has not trying to do anything about it but it looks like she is not “ready” to do anything about it yet but that is just my opinion. Great Post !

    • Diane Carbonell says:

      Yeah, you are right. Like I responded to someone else, there is nowhere on her blog where she discusses healthy living at all. She is definitely not ready and I hope she has a change of heart before she becomes so overweight that her health suffers.

  15. Babbalou says:

    To some extent I think you could argue that we are more likely these days to try to justify ourselves or make excuses to justify doing what we want instead of looking more critically at our own behavior. So rather than reduce portions and alter the foods we eat, we’ll say, “oh, it’s so hard to lose weight when you’re post-menopausal” or “I’ve just got a slow metabolism” or “I guess I’m just built like my mother (who may be obese)”. In other areas of life we’ve all heard people make excuses for infidelity “well, I knew he was married, but they’ve been unhappy for years” or “I just don’t have enough money to save for my retirement” (yet they have cable, a smart phone, a newer car, etc.) I know there are a lot of thoughts out there regarding why people are getting fatter and fatter, in the end it’s all about the choices we make and not the excuses we come up with. I think it’s utterly sad. But then I’m old….

  16. vickie says:

    The place I am seeing this topic most often (probably because of my age which is 51) is in older women accepting belly fat. I hear time and time again that it is just inevitable.

    If someone’s weight stays exactly the same and their body shifts to sort of rearrange itself, that might be some what inevitable.

    If someone’s weight is increasing and they carry excess weight in their belly, that is a whole different thing.

    Very good topic/post.

    • Diane Carbonell says:

      Thanks Vickie. I’m very near your age and I hear/see the same thing with regards to peri and post menopause. It does take work to stay in shape and that’s why I am trying my best to eat a clean diet and exercise vigorously.

  17. Taryl says:

    An upgrade due to hormonal wright shifts or different shape (like after one’s first pregnancy) is understandable, but beyond that I definitely believe it is the wrong message to send that upsizing is a better solution than losing the excess and being self disciplined with habits. I know that’s how I maintain – I refuse, REFUSE, to upsize clothes anymore. That is my absolute last stopgap against regain and it has worked very well so far.

    • Diane Carbonell says:

      It is different to gain weight because of aging hormones or pregnancy – I completely agree. My body has changed after having seven children, but my weight is about the same.

      For me, it is very concerning when young people just don’t care, but instead just buy new clothes. If you read her blog you would see nothing in there about working out, trying to make healthy choices, or anything like that. She is likely just living a basically sedentary lifestyle and making some poor food choices. At her age, it would be relatively simple to make some positive changes that could be taken forward into the rest of her life.

  18. Lydia says:

    I have not read the comments here, but I think you need to own and wear clothes (including gym clothes) that fit you, make you feel comfortable and attractive – this may lead to taking care of yourself and losing weight. Either way, you need to have clothes that fit, so I am not sure what choice this person has?

    • Diane Carbonell says:

      I agree that is it great to have clothes that fit you and make you feel attractive, no matter what your weight. I also believe that it is a mistake for a young person to just accept being obese as part of growing older. (And this young girl is in her 20’s.) While she can look great on the outside with cute clothes, her extra weight will eventually have detrimental effects on her health. That makes me sad.

  19. Stacy says:

    I see that a lot with fashion and “body acceptance” bloggers. I am glad these ladies aren’t feeling awful about themselves, but accepting their current state without trying to fix it is only going to shorten their life. When you are obese in your 20’s, where will you be in your 40’s, 60’s…

    Upsizing clothes is usually my big motivator to lose weight. I’ve got a plentiful wardrobe and buying a new one would be spendy. Right now my jeans are pretty tight, so I have to figure out what to do to get rid of these awful sugar cravings. I haven’t been able to workout for a week and a half due to being sick, so that is not helping.

    • Diane Carbonell says:

      You said this so well Stacy. Where will the teens and young adults be when they are middle-aged? I think a lot of them will be relying on medications to deal with these lifestyle diseases.

      Clothing is a motivator for me as well. If something is getting tight then I know I’ve got to pay closer attention to what I’m eating and workout a little harder.

  20. Emergefit says:

    “Has it come to the point in our society that gaining weight is just natural and normal? That gaining weight from overeating and inactivity is just to be expected and accepted? That gaining weight is no longer a big deal.”

    I see evidence of this every five minutes, and in every direction I turn. I truly believe the larger, less healthy person is our destinity. For that, I am sorry.

  21. Adina says:

    I definitely agree that people think gaining weight is part of getting older. That’s not true! Especially for someone in her twenties! Now is the time to get your body in shape, build muscle, bone mass etc. I’m a huge advocate for staying active and taking control or your life by being more nutritious.

  22. Beth M. says:

    Wow, this post (and the comments) depress me on so many levels. I didn’t think of you as a judgmental person before. Really? You think young people don’t feel stigmatized being overweight? What – they don’t feel enough shame? The clothes available to them even in larger sizes are too pretty, so they don’t hate themselves enough for having to wear them? Who are you people??
    Certainly we want to help young people in particular avoid becoming overweight, or more overweight. But the best way to do that without making things worse (triggering a shame >> overeating >> more shame cycle) is a complicated and difficult issue. I’m shocked that so many of you fail to recognize that just because someone is overweight, and even gaining, doesn’t mean they aren’t struggling to change. That’s what I find sad.

    • KarenJ says:

      Beth, I don’t think that anyone is saying that overweight people don’t want to lose, or that they are accepting being overweight. I’m certain there are many people working hard to get their weight under control. I think the point is that being overweight is becoming more acceptable in society in general, so it’s becoming more of a norm as it is easier to become complacent about your size when so many people are the same size or larger than you. And yes, I believe among young people that it is less stigmatizing to overweight than when I was a child, but of course it probably depends on the extent.

      • Diane Carbonell says:

        Thanks Karen. I do believe that it becomes easier to accept ourselves as being overweight when 66 percent of the population is just like us.

        It makes me think about the days when smoking was everywhere – on television, in magazines, on billboards, etc. Once people realized the dangers of smoking it became less and less the norm. My hope is that we can make that same shift in today’s society when it comes to our weight. All this obesity/overweight is so bad for our nation’s health.

    • Diane Carbonell says:

      I appreciate your concern Beth and if you really knew me you would understand that I never intentionally hurt people. The point, as KarenJ so rightly said isn’t to call people out, but rather to discuss how sad it is that the new normal is overweight. Not sad from an appearance point of view, but sad from a health and longevity point of view.

      All kinds of medical research points to the dangers of obesity to our health, from high blood pressure to heart disease. That was my point in opening this discussion – not to encourage a shame cycle.

      I’ve been through the shame personally. I broke chairs in front of my friends, had people call me names, couldn’t fit in rides at Disney World and had tons of other shameful experiences that only an obese person can understand. I would never encourage shame. But because I’ve been through the hurt, I also know the dangers of just accepting the obesity and try to encourage people to make small, positive changes that can have hugely positive impacts on their health.

  23. Diane Carbonell says:

    When I was overweight Lane Bryant really had ugly clothes. Before I “outgrew” their clothes and had to make my own, I struggled to find anything that remotely resembled current fashion. (I was in my 20’s and early 30’s at the time.) Now, it is completely different. I think it is good to have attractive choices, but it also does make it easier to accept being overweight. I’ve been roundly criticized for saying that before, but I still believe it. People call me a hater, but the truth is that I absolutely understand what it feels like to be obese, and I also know how much differently we can feel if we are at a healthy weight.

    • maryann says:

      Yes, there are more clothes options for plus size women than before, but it can take a massive amount of effort to find pieces that are truly fashionable. (Prada isn’t making plus sizes) And anything remotely fashionable costs quite a bit more than the same item in a straight size. And it is often cheaply made with not-so-great fabrics. So, now that I’ve moved out of true plus size into “inbetweenie” size (and going down), my options have opened up even more. I suppose I could rest on my laurels and just stay where I am since I can find nicer clothes, but if anything, the opening up of options has made me even more determined to keep on my weight loss/health journey. I guess I figure if I like how I’m looking (and feeling) now, how great will it be when I reach my long-term goal? As for the expansion of plus size options making people more accepting of their own weight gain, I can’t speak for others’ experience, but being able to dress well and feel good about my appearance has always been important to me. Feeling good about how I looked, even when I was heavier than I wanted to be, helped me feel confident enough to try new things (like going to the gym or taking a dance class). That confidence I felt when I looked in the mirror while wearing a great dress spilled over into other parts of my life and made me far more willing to take bigger steps. Not that looks or clothing/fashion are everything, but whatever works, right? That was my experience, anyway. May not be the same for everyone.
      Whew, that was pretty long-winded for my first post on your blog (Which is great, by the way). But fashion gets me a little chatty.

      • Diane Carbonell says:

        I completely relate to the struggle of finding attractive, well-fitting clothes because it got to the point when I was over 300 pounds that I had to make 90 percent of my own clothes. And although I could sew well, I had a hard time fitting my body.

        I’m so happy that you are doing well on your weight loss journey and finding your expanded clothing options motivating! Thanks for your first comment!

  24. Siobhan says:

    I think it is sad to just accept weight gain, no matter what the age or the gender, as though one has no choice. One might choose to do nothing about it, but it’s still a choice.

  25. Ame' says:

    As a twenty-something myself who’s battled weight and self-esteem issues since I was eight, I’m turn but ultimately optimistic about bigger girls starting to accept themselves for who they are. I understand the concern that they aren’t accepting themselves but accepting unhealthy lifestyles. That is a very serious concern, and kids need more education on how to be healthy. However, I think it is way to early to say that being fat is the new normal and people are going to stop trying to lose weight cause everyone is fat. Have you been to a high school lately? Trust me when I say none of my peers are really “comfortable” with their weight. I’ve seen so many eating disorders, depression, bullying, and general all-around angst about weight over the last several years to last for a life-time. I know for myself, personally, I couldn’t start losing weight until I learned to love myself and accept myself weight and all. Once I realized I was beautiful, strong, and worth the effort, I actually wanted to take care of myself. I honestly don’t believe education about healthy living is going to fully change the tide of childhood obesity in America. Most kids and teens think they are invincible. Even at 23 I don’t think about my long-term health. Heck I’m losing weight and getting healthy because I like to travel in more comfort. (I also discovered a love for fashion and kicking butt in my kick-boxing class). I say don’t freak out and don’t get all sad. I’m actually really proud of this blogger for not beating herself up and having the confidence to have a fashion blog even though she is bigger. I think that’s better than a lot of girls blogging on their latests diet craze/eating disorder/body bashing. That is what makes me sad.

  26. evilcyber says:

    Living in Germany, I can indirectly add to the topic of fashion and body size: a US size S is a European size M. It seems that in the United States, the perception of what the average body size (“M”) is has already shifted.

  27. Sarah says:

    Yes I understand this. I thought this as well. I thought it was natural that as you got older, your metabolism slowed up and you got bigger. I’d always assumed I would end up the same size as my Mum – she’s not huge by any means, but she’s always had a BMI of between 25-30.

    It was only when I attempted to lose weight I realised that I could control my own future, as it were. That sounds a bit dramatic – but its what it felt like at the time!

  28. Stephanie says:

    Very interesting post, Diane! I’ve been on both sides of this spectrum. I was in my late 20s when I got to my heaviest, and I remember my thinking very clearly. I felt that I was married and getting older, and I was “allowed” to stop worrying about my weight. That’s how I saw it–it was my “right” to gain weight and not care about what my body looked like. Like I had “earned” it or something! And for a few years, that’s what I did. I bought clothes at Lane Bryant and felt like the fact that there was a store that offered “trendy” clothes in my size supported my new beliefs. (I actually chuckled a little when I saw that as your featured pic for this post, because I have LONG had a love/hate relationship with that store!)

    But although I bought clothes at Lane Bryant and convinced myself that I looked just as good as the other girls who shopped at “normal” stores, the one thing I couldn’t deny was that there was an issue with “plus” size clothes that had never been truly addressed: you were allowed to be short, and you were allowed to be plus-sized, but you could not be both short AND plus-sized. I am 5’2″, and no matter how hard I tried, I could not find plus-sized clothes that did not require some kind of alteration (even if they were listed as “short” or “petite”). And I do not sew!! Eventually, that and a whole lot of other things led me to lose the weight. I wear a size 6 now, and I can’t deny that I still have a little moment of thrill when I am able to find clothes that fit both my body size AND my height. 🙂

    When I read this post, I thought about the Dove commercials that showcase all the women of different sizes, shapes, and ethnicities (in their underclothes, but don’t get me started on that). Although I like the idea that we should all be comfortable in our bodies, I do think that we need to remember that “comfort” can not come before “health.” It’s okay to be “not skinny,” but it’s important to still be healthy. You CAN be both, in my opinion.

    Your posts always make me think, Diane!!

  29. J says:

    Hello Diane,

    I just came across your blog while searching for some advice. I thought I would comment, since I think it’s still a relevant topic (and I have some ‘out-loud’ pondering that could use some other food for thought from you or other viewers.)

    A co-worker (let’s call her Jane) recently shared (in the presence of another co-worker, let’s call her Mary) that she needed to lose weight and buy larger clothes. Mary told Jane not to worry about losing weight and that she didn’t have to. I’m fairly new to the workplace but given my role at the company with a health-related role said, “I don’t think you should buy larger clothes,” which was to be followed up by reasoning. However, Mary then gave me a look like I should stop talking because she didn’t think that we should focus on the fact that Jane had a concern, and expressed that she really doesn’t like hearing women obsess about their body image. I’m not a dietician or a nutritionist. I have never had real issues with eating and I will admit that I happen to fit into that small percentage of a population whose weight may fluctuate but looks exactly the same because all of the clothes continue to fit. I come from a Public Health perspective and wellness perspective… What I was trying to reason out to Jane and Mary was that:

    1) Buying new clothes won’t make you really happy
    2) Obsessing over a number on a scale won’t make you happy
    3) How you feel you look and feel health-wise (i.e. have energy, feel like you’re able to participate in different physical activities, or even just not feeling ‘blah’) will be more likely to make you happy

    I use “happy” as a relative term… as in your self-esteem won’t go down to the point you’ll get depressed and/or feel the need to start doing negative health behaviors like becoming bulimic or anorexic.

    Because Mary tried to dissolve the conversation and Jane became pensive, the conversation just stopped. Knowing what I know of these two women (even in a short time), I know that they are still thinking about the issue but will most likely not bring it up again because they have read each other. It’s not going to be an ongoing topic in our workplace. … at least not out in the open. However, in that moment, I felt like there was a lost opportunity.

    – With Jane: the knowledge that aging is a process but it’s about feeling healthy for your body type. If you don’t feel healthy or your health check-up shows you’re not healthy, there are things you can do at work and at home that can help you have a better health outcome. Buying larger clothes will not be the solution, especially given the process — different stores fluctuate in size, what is age appropriate, finding pants that fit is a royal pain, and then spending a ton of money and time on experimental clothes could create another issue.

    – With Mary: it was having an open conversation. Mary may have had body image issues in the past; she is currently looking like a beginner-body builder. Mary works out and is proud of her body type. All women should be, but it takes time to get there and it can definitely be a struggle. I can understand that she may just not have wanted to engage in the conversation because of her past struggles and how she feels now, and that’s completely fair, but I think it (albeit unintentionally) cause Jane to feel like she couldn’t or shouldn’t talk about it. … Though, it’s possible that Jane had mentioned something to Mary in the past and Mary just didn’t want to engage…

    There is a famous quote by Paracelsus: “The dose makes the poison.”

    I feel like we all should accept that weight gain is inevitable. However, how much of that weight gain will affect your quality of life or give you adverse effects (i.e. diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, low energy)? A person who is perceived as slim or healthy could still suffer from those symptoms… but I don’t think that it should be a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” attitude. We should be able to talk about weight, with men, women, LGBT or straight in a respectful manner that does not just objectify them.

    Eventually, I hope to hold a lunch and learn to communicate recommendations about how to make good food choices (by a registered dietician or nutritionist with a public health background and balanced perspective), and perhaps a lunch and learn on dressing for success could help address body image. ……?

    It would be great to hear anyone’s thoughts. I know I was kind of everywhere on the topic…

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