Friday, June 11, 2010

Whose Ideal is it Anyway?

I'm sure many of you have read lately about American Apparel and their refusal to hire anyone who doesn't fit their ideal of perfection which includes anyone over a size 6. The company also refused to hire anyone wearing Uggs, Vans, Moccasins, Converse sneakers, and Keds. The company stated they are trying to move into a more "sophisticated, expensive, classy direction." Well excuse me American Apparel but the last time I checked your company is a chain who sells clothes through advertisements that look like they belong in the over 18 section of a video store. And furthermore, who are you to say that a woman over a size 6 can not be sophisticated or classy?

Here are some American Apparel advertisements. If these don't scream classy and sophisticated, then I don't know what does...

More so than American Apparel's warped sense of reality, I am completely appalled by the standards set by the industry and media today. I fully believe in leading a healthy and active life, and that's where I want to stress the word healthy. To me, being healthy means everything in moderation. Without enjoying the things that you love to eat and allowing yourself to have them, you will become completely miserable. After all, no one wants to come home after a long day and curl up on the couch with a nice glass of wheat grass.

Unfortunately, the ideals being fed to us by the media are almost impossible to achieve without taking extremely unhealthy measures. Almost every model and actress we see today has a body mass index (a healthy weight range for your height) lower than normal (normal being 18). These celebrities have the luxury of round the clock nutritionists, and personal trainers yet they still look less than healthy. The worst part of all is that when they do fess up to their diet and fitness tips, it is either all or nothing. We get one handful of celebrities claiming, "I eat whatever I want and never exercise," while another group confesses to juice fasts and exercise regimes lasting up to 4 hours. Both attitudes are extremely unhealthy for women and especially adolescent girls to hear. Being underweight is just as dangerous as being overweight. People who are underweight are just as likely to suffer heart attack, stroke, and several other consequences of depriving their body of essential vitamins and nutrients.

Here are some unfortunate words & stories I have seen/read to further illustrate how obsessed our society is.
  • 22 year- old Urugay model dies on the catwalk of heart failure after not eating for days. She was 5'9" and weighed 98 lbs which gave her a BMI of 14.5. The World Health Organization considers a BMI of 16 to indicate starvation.
  • "No one wants to see curvy women. You've got fat mothers with their bags of chips sitting in front of the television and saying that thin models are ugly."- Karl Lagerfeld, fashion designer
  • Pregorexia. A new trend inspired by the celebs who stay thin during pregnancy where pregnant women partake in extreme dieting and over exercising while expecting.
Ralph Lauren Model, Flippa Hamilton (Below) was fired for being too fat.

I know I sound like I have all the fitness and diet answers, but I don't. I'm just an average sized girl who has felt the pressure like everyone else. On my quest for a healthy body I have overexercised, tried slimfast, atkins, etc., and all of these things only lasted a few days because they are unrealistic and unhealthy. Trying out fads may work in the beginning but no one wants to nor should live off of slimfast shakes forever. Being healthy is an everyday thing. It is all about the choices you make and it should be a lifelong commitment. One meal or even day of unhealthy food is not going to change the scale permanently.

Here are a few tips to stay in check:
  • Don't have an all or nothing mind frame. I used to think, "oh well I ate a piece of cake, I may as well eat everything else in my path." This is a very bad idea. Not only will you feel bloated the next day, but you could also feel defeated which could lead you back off track. Instead, eat the cake, savor it, and afterward be done. Trust me, your third piece of cake will not be as enjoyable.
  • Wait it out. It takes 30 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain that it's full. So eat slowly and wait 30 minutes before you go back for seconds.
  • Balance it out. One or two slices of pizza is not "bad." What is going to get you into trouble however is having a bagel for breakfast, pizza for lunch, pasta for dinner, beer, ice cream, etc. No one needs that many carbs. However if you are having carb cravings, go for complex carbohydrates which include things like: oatmeal, brown rice, whole grain breads.
  • Fill up. Foods high in fiber and water will make you feel fuller for longer. I love snacks like apples with peanut butter, dried figs, and watermelon.
  • Listen to your body. If you are craving red meat, chicken, cheese, chocolate, then eat it. If your body is telling you it wants something, that usually means it needs it. Actually giving in and eating a burger will taste much better than depriving yourself by eating fruit instead. By giving into your craving (in moderation) you will end up eating less because you will feel satisfied.
  • Move it. You don't have to be a madman on the elliptical but getting at least 30 minutes of exercise everyday will make you feel much better. This can be walking, dancing, taking the stairs instead of the elevator....Exercise releases endorphins and will make you feel healthier even if your diet isn't quite there yet.
At the end of the day, the most important thing is that you are happy with yourself. So stop comparing yourself to others because that won't get you anywhere. Not everyone has the body capable to be a size zero and that's alright. Honestly, the world is becoming somewhat of a twilight zone with everyone going out and buying body parts that all look exactly the same. So go on, be healthy and enjoy your life! What's going to keep you healthy and youthful for longer is doing everything in moderation. That means eating everything: carbs, fats, sugars, and getting your body moving for at least 30 minutes every day.