Mermaid or Whale Tale?

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October 5, 2011 by Darlene McC

I’m going to tread lightly in this post because I think it has a lot of potential to get me in trouble ~ and not the fun kind of trouble; the fingers slammed in the door kind.

This morning on the face-party I noticed a bit of a trend: a few of the ladies I love were posting the copy of the “Mermaid or a Whale story“.  I poked around the inter-webs trying to find the origin of the copy but didn’t find anything satisfactory.  If you’re not in the mood for reading it the gist is that a gym ad had a picture of a twiggy girl labelled “mermaid” and begged the question “This summer would you rather be a mermaid or a whale?”.  An unknown woman replied that she would rather be a whale for a number of reasons, mermaids are fictitious, and (this is kinda my favorite part):

We women, we gain weight because we accumulate so much wisdom and knowledge that there isn’t enough space in our heads, and it spreads all over our bodies.
We are not fat, we are greatly cultivated.

Belle

In response to the rapid re-posting of this (along with the luscious french plus sized model Tara Lynn) women are crawling out of the woodwork to applaud the sentiment: that mermaids are fictitious and we should love ourselves as whales.

This is where I get myself in trouble:

You’re right.  We should love ourselves.  We should do our best to cultivate a culture where women are respected and revered for who they are and what they can contribute as members of our society and culture; not just valued for the dimensions of their thighs.  But to what end?

We have a national obesity epidemic.  We have a national Type 2 diabetes epidemic.  For the first time in human history we have people dying from too much food.  I want people to be happy and of course I’m always touched when someone is completely happy with who they are – but I want people to be healthy too!  To this you may declare “I am healthy!” – despite that extra 20 lbs because you’re in your 20s or 30s and haven’t yet developed diabetes or heart disease…. but those things develop over time.  In the decades between now and when you’re 50 those extra 20 (or 30 or 40) lbs are contributing to the accumulation of junk in your cardiovascular system – not to mention what your diet may be doing to your liver and other organs.

Another sentiment expressed in the post:

At a time when the media tells us that only thin is beautiful, I prefer to eat ice cream with my kids, to have dinner with my husband, to eat and drink and have fun with my friends.

It is absolutely possible to do those things in moderation, balance them with a healthy diet and exercise, and maintain a healthy weight.

I agree with the sentiment that we should love ourselves and be happy; but the devil is in the details and the idea that there isn’t “enough space in our heads” to hold everything women know so it “spreads all over our bodies” makes me want to punch my monitor.  It sounds as if she’s saying we’re so simple-minded that we have no choice but to over eat to compensate for the overload of the modern world.  That is, frankly, bs.  Besides, exercise has long been proven to be an effective stress reduction tool (here’s some scholarly references if you’re not a believer) and certainly better than eating to allow our knowledge to spread all over our bodies (what!??!).

You have a choice ladies.  I’m not saying I want you to be “mermaids” ~ we’re not all super models (lord knows I’m more of a porpoise).  But I grew up with the expectation what I had to be plus sized because that’s what I always was and all the women in my family are too.  Here I am, no longer shopping at Lane Bryant and resolving serious joint problems and chronic pain.  I thought I was “loving” my body when I just accepted it as “god made it” – you know what really loving your body is?  Taking really good care of it and making it last.

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