Wednesday, 27 January 2010

The Weight Debate

Picture from the

As the uproar over actress, Hannah Waterman's dramatic weight loss continues, I'm reminded of a story my father told me...  

During the late 60's, a friend of my dad's was an Aid Worker in Biafra (now part of Nigeria).  He was starting to feel the effects of too much food and not enough exercise, so, like many people in the same position, decided to go for a jog along the roads around the local area.  After a while, he was joined by a local villager cycling along side him.

'Sir, are you ok?' the Villager asked anxiously.

'Yes, I'm fine, thank you' replied the Aid Worker.

'Sir, if you are in trouble, please tell me and I may be able to do something.  I have a bicycle and I can cycle very quickly to fetch help.'

'I'm fine, thank you.'

'Sir, if you are ok, why are you running?'

'Just trying to loose a little weight'.

The Villager stared at him uncomprehending and continued to cycle along side him for the rest of his jog, anxiously offering help from time to time.  

You see, the Villager's life was so tough and he had to work so hard physically that running was something that he only did in an extreme emergency.  As for excess weight, in the eyes of the Villager, that was a good thing.  It meant that you were healthy & wealthy and that you had reserves for the times when food was scarce. 

I find it bizarre that in our plentiful abundant society, women (and it's often the wealthiest women) have chosen to deprive themselves of food & nutrients and to emulate the bodies of poverty stricken, malnutrised Third World women and that this body shape is seen as desirable.  It's almost as we, as a society, are punishing women as a whole, for something.  Being too successful, maybe?

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