When I think about what I can do to change how the world looks at itself, I always get tripped up by 1 minor detail: self-image has been tripping us up since the beginning of time. You can blame it on the models and MTV and "today's standards" all you want, but "today's standards" centuries ago were the same. Women were literally breaking their ribs for "skinny". If you think about it, though, we are always moving forward. As I've learned from the following e-mail, we are improving. We have more information than we've ever had before and we're using it.. and, more importantly, we're talking about it.
I received this e-mail a few days ago from a faithful reader, and one of my biggest fans of 22 years. She's one of the most beautiful people I've ever known and it meant so much that she shared this story with me. I knew weight has always been a problem in my family (does anyone's family not have that problem??), but this was a story I had yet to hear.
I want you to know that you and your generation are so fortunate to have nutrition know-how. When I was growing up, [I had] a mother that only worried about getting food on the table, and food that she was used to in europe. I didn't have a clue as to what to eat or fats or sugar or anything. My mother was so frustraited with my being "SO FAT". I was so unhappy and lonely in grammar school. Everyone validated the fact that I was different. That's where i developed my humor and kindness and always befriended the people that were not as cool as the beautiful ones who lived off their attractiveness. I never could figure out what they had. They were not kind. They grouped together. So i guess that was a good thing to have: to rely on what was inside of me.
When I got into high school, [my sister] Jeanie was married and she put me on a "diet," or "program" as they would call it today. I started to lose weight and I ate only what she told me to eat. I can remember being at a girlfriends house and she offered me an orange. I actually called Jeanie to see if it was allright to eat it.
When I got married, there was a period when i was in my 30s that I lost a lot of weight and my hair got long and i was "HOT". I can remember being out with Grandpa and we loved to dance and I would catch the looks of the guys sitting at the tables and all I could think was, "I'm the same person as i always was. Where were you then... BASTARDS (I'm still angry). I went to dances at school and would be excited, but all the time knowing that I would have to keep walking around the place so i didn't look like a wallflower. What hurt was when my parents would ask if I'd had a good time and I lied and said "yes".
Anyway, as I said, the girls today have wonderful information at their disposal. Some have eating disorders or whatever, but their problems come from different directions of their life. I know today it isn't about" food".
I hope they have programs in the schools for girls and boys that come from a busy home that have no time to check what anybody is eating and their only company is a computer or a game thing and snacking.
I think the food pyramid was upside down then. Oh wait... we never had one. Just "meat and potatoes".
[my gramma, Natalie B, age 69]
[edits made with permission.]
I guess we sometimes take our progress for granted.