Am I pissed that she lost all that weight? absolutely not – I think it’s fabulous. What I am pissed about is how they are promoting it and the unrealistic image she is portraying while posing in a bikini. Hey, she looks GREAT! but at what cost? and to what end? as far as I can tell all it serves to do is propagate the unattainable and unrealistic (not to mention completely unhealthy) body image that Hollywood and the media force upon us.
Like most women I know, and don’t know for that matter, I have struggled with my weight pretty much all my life. I have been WAY up and WAY down, neither healthy, and right now I am pretty much where I should be but of course am still not completely happy with it. I lead an active life but think I should be more active. I eat well 95% of the time, but then go through spurts, like right now coincidentally, where a 250 calorie bag of baked pretzels dipped in almost no calorie Dijon mustard makes a perfectly acceptable meal of the day. Yeah, I know, SOOOOO healthy, right?
I had a mini melt-down the other day, thankfully in the privacy of my own bedroom, brought on I suspect by watching an interview with the aforementioned Ms. Bertinelli, tuning in to the Biggest Loser (a show I actually enjoy and think for the most part promotes a healthy attitude and approach to weight loss), and the fast-approaching spring/summer season. Ms. Bertinelli admitted to dropping her caloric intake to 1,200 for several weeks prior to the bikini shot. Well of course she did? If I knew I was going to be photographed in a bikini for millions of people to see you had better believe that I would pretty much stop eating and start working-out 6 hours a day for at LEAST a month.
But then what? What happens when you go back to real life? What happens when you HAVE a real life, with a real job and real responsibilities? Most of us don’t have 6 hours a day to dedicate to working out. Most of us don’t have a weight-loss company PAYING us to promote them thus enabling us to have those 6 hours a day to work out.
Which brings me to my next “issue” – the whole weight-loss company thing. Jennifer Lancaster made this point over and over in her book “Such a Pretty Fat” (which I LOVED, by the way – READ IT!). Sure, Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers work great IF YOU EAT THEIR PRE-PACKAGED FOOD. But then what? Are you stuck eating that crap forever?? Because, yuck. And so not healthy – it’s all processed and full of stuff you can’t pronounce and so contrary to that other dietary trend we are being inundated by – the 100 mile thing (but that’s a whole other topic for a whole other entry). And they don’t emphasize (or even mention in some cases) that exercise is the key.
This is a point that The Biggest Loser makes over and over again – change your life, change the way you eat, change the way you move. Sure the contestants on the show have the luxury of being on a ranch with some fabulous trainers and the ability to work out 24/7 should they so choose. But it’s not a permanent situation and they, for the most part, leave the ranch with a new approach to how they live their lives. They are shown healthy alternatives to their favourite snacks. They are encouraged to MOVE. Their lives and lifestyles change – they are not dependant on a series of pre-packaged “meals”.
But this isn’t about extolling the virtues if a reality television show. It’s about why I am pissed at Valeri Bertinelli. You look great, I’ve already said that, and you do. Really, you do. But how will you look in 6 months? Probably still great, but likely not “posing in a bikini on the cover of a national magazine” great because how could you? unless, of course, you continue on your 1,200 calorie a day regime which is setting such a great example for all the real women and impressionable young girls out there. Does being thin and bikini ready make you a better person? Because that’s the message that’s being sent. thin=better, happier, worthier
Here’s the thing – I love food. I love reading about it, watching about it (bad grammar, I know), talking about it, preparing it, and eating it. Life would be pretty damn boring if I was restricted to 1,200 calories a day for life. (also, I would be ridiculously thin and that’s just not such a great look on anyone over 35 – hello, a little fat does wonders for the wrinkles) Food for me is a social activity and one that I am not willing to give up. The moving thing? I do that – sometimes more than others but on average I am way more active than apparently 90% of the general population. I have 2 dogs that require lots of exercise and that translates into 2 45-minute walks a day during the week (including HILLS – I live in the mountains) and a 2 to 3 hour hike on Saturdays and Sundays. Plus other stuff. So yeah, I am active.
I also know that I feel better a little “lighter” and I am in a better mood when I am eating healthier and when my favourite clothes fit. But I really don’t need the, admittedly mostly self-inflicted, pressure of having to be bikini-ready or risk being shunned or marginalised.
So Ms. Bertinelli and those of your ilk, I am pissed at you (but you do look great!).