Boy, You Really Buck the Mainstream

I was at a business networking meeting where everyone gets to give a 30 second introduction.  I talked about the work that I do with Health at Every Size.  After the meeting, someone came up and asked me what my “schtick” was all about.  I explained that my goal is to let people know that one option that you can choose when trying to be healthy is to focus on healthy habits rather than focusing on having a smaller body. He furrowed his brow, tilted his head a bit and said something I’ve heard many of times before: “Boy, you really buck the mainstream”.

Yup.  No doubt about that.  But let’s not talk about me.  Let’s examine the mainstream for just a moment, shall we?

According to sources sited on the non-profit National Association of Anorexia and Associated Eating Disorders website:

•47% of girls in 5th-12th grade reported wanting to lose weight because of magazine pictures.

• 42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner.

• 81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat.

According to a Study (warning:  Link leads to a Glamour magazine article that can be triggering)

• 97 percent of 300 women reported having multiple negative thoughts about their own bodies. The average number was 13; many had as many as 35, 50 or 100 per day.

And it’s not like we’re hating ourselves thin or healthy, all we hear about is how we are more omigoddeathfat and less healthy each and every day.

So someone will have to explain to me, using very small words, what about the mainstream I would not want to buck.  The mainstream seriously sucks.
At least it did for me.  I used to be in the mainstream. It was a whole lot of hating myself, desperate to be thin, sure that if I just tried harder I could change the size and shape of a body that I despised and was ashamed of, and win the approval of a fat hating society.  That lead me down a very bad road to self-hatred, unhealthy behavior, even an eating disorder when I completely forgot to be healthy in the pursuit of thinness.  So yes sir, I had to bite scratch and claw my way out of the mainstream and I will fight to stay here because I’ve never been this healthy mentally or physically and I’ve never been this happy.

Have you ever heard the phrase “If everyone is thinking the same thing then somebody’s not thinking”?  I have.  I tend to agree.  And when everyone’s thinking 13-100 negative thoughts about their body a day, I will damn sure be bucking the mainstream.

18 thoughts on “Boy, You Really Buck the Mainstream

  1. You are an awesome role model and not just as a woman, but also as a critical thinker! I am so glad I get to read your blog posts.

  2. I have been thin (although I thought I was fat) and am somehow less miserable actually being fat and learning to accept myself, even though my self esteem is still pretty lacking. The mainstream does indeed suck. Why the hell anyone would want to be part of it is beyond me, although I still find myself sometimes jumping through hoops to try and be accepted. Old habits die hard.

  3. *Sigh* I never quite felt I was in the mainstream in the first place. But I’m more of a quiet bucker, not an in-your-face one.
    The negative personal thoughts women have – is that primarily about weight? My personal negative thoughts don’t concern weight these days (although I’m undeniably fat), they’re usually born of frustration about some part of me that isn’t working quite right.

  4. Greetings from Munich!

    Sooo…according to your piece, the mainstream is populated by unhealthy and unrealistic attitudes toward body image. That is absolutely unacceptable and appalling. I had no idea it was so bad.

    Y’know, this last year I have put a tremendous amount of effort into two things: raising my new daughter and older son, and trying with ever last bit of strength to silence all the voices in my head telling me that because I’m fat, I’m worthless. It’s been like that ever since I was 9 years old, and the genes decided it was time to release the fat hounds. And that’s also when girls start getting competitive, so I learned pretty fast where I ranked.

    I grew up with such hatred of my body and my shape that it has physically changed the function and structure of my brain. It’s only in the last year, as I’ve said, and it’s a daily fight, smacking down the old thoughts that click into place as a matter of practice. When I turned 40 this last January, I decided it was time for it all to stop. It’s a slow process, but like so many of you good ladies, I’ve actually never had such a healthy relationship with my body shape before, and it’s the weirdest thing: ever since I adopted this new attitude and outlook, people keep telling me how wonderful I look…how fit, etc. Absolutely bizarre.

    Keep fighting the good fight. Your blog is so inspirational.

  5. Thank you for pointing out some great facts. Until finding your blog I didn’t know “Health at Every Size” was an option, although that was what I have been trying to do my whole life. It’s great to have an expert to learn from! Negative self-talk and emotional eating are still issues of mine, but it’s getting better, and I find your posts, link’s and readers’ comments so supportive! The Glamor article was mostly helpful, I feel less on-my-own about the negative thoughts, and the suggestions for ending the cycle are solid. On the other hand, I could *smack* somebody at Glamor for using a naked, “perfect” model for the image. Would it have been so hard to use several, smiling, happy women of different sizes/shapes/colors?!?

  6. I absolutely love your blog, and hope that some day I will be where you’re at: loving my body.

    I’m getting there, but I’m still in the “has at least 13 negative thoughts about her body a day” group, unfortunately.

  7. To quote Krishnamurti, “It is no sign of health to be well-adjusted to an inherently sick society.”

    The image that just popped into my mind was of you wearing a t-shirt that says “when it comes to bucking the mainstream, I’M A BRONCO”. *very big grin*

  8. Fabulous post! So glad you have found health and happiness at your natural weight. Fat, thin, or somewhere in-between, beauty is every size! I too was anorexic (in my teens) and a lifelong restrained eater in constant pursuit of a weight much lower than what my body wants to be. Found healing in my 50’s through the wisdom of the wonderful Ellyn Satter. Her website is amazing. Helped me to learn eating competence and body acceptance at last.

  9. After reading this, I asked my 10-year-old daughter how she feels about her body. I went carefully because I didn’t want the question to cause any doubt. “I feel fine,” she said. I asked if she liked her body the way it was, or if she wanted it to be any different. “Pretty much the way it is.”
    “Pretty much?”
    “I wish I could fly. Or jump really high. Or maybe turn invisible.”

    She doesn’t want to be thin; she wants super powers!

  10. I read an article this morning that this post reminded me of. Bucking a similar mainstream and getting a similar response:

    The author discusses how only talking to a little girl about her appearance sets her up for self-esteem hell, and the general consensus in the comments is “OMG this crazy PC intellectual is telling me I can’t say my little girl is cute anymore!”

    My only conclusion at this point is that people just really hate it when they have to think about anything.

    Also, that Glamour article made me sick. I didn’t even read the first full paragraph. The fact that they started it out with those phrases was enough to show that they either a) don’t understand the issue they’re addressing or b) are just trying to profit off their readers’ self-hatred.

  11. I’m with you too in bucking this mainstream! I’m sick and tired of it. When I was little, I used to punch myself in the stomach to make it flat. I do not want anyone else to do that or feel the way i did when I did that.
    Keep up the excellent work Ragen, you’re amazing xx

  12. Those statistics are truly depressing, but this week they impinged on me in a new way: heard that my husband’s 13 year old niece is dieting. Her school is apparently sending those stupid BMI letters home. Her mom does Slimfast. BIL and wife are split up and I see her and her sister only once in a blue moon at the MIL’s, and I wonder how anything I say or do in front of them can possibly have any influence. Sorry to go off-topic, but family are all on Facebook and I needed to go ‘aaaaargh!’ about this somewhere where I’d be understood.

    So, anyway, yeah, if this is the mainstream I want no part of it, thanks.

  13. “my goal is to let people know that one option that you can choose when trying to be healthy is to focus on healthy habits rather than focusing on having a smaller body.”

    gosh, you are so gracious. my instinct is to grab people by the shoulders and sob, “you’re throwing your life away dieting!” until they absorb it or hit me. kudos to you, dancer ma’am.

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