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A Favor for the New Year

By now, my friends and family are most likely tired of hearing me talk about TV. That is, how I’m not a fan of it. At most mentions of new shows, I’m quick to remind others just why I don’t like it, up to the point of being obnoxious. I tell them that my roommate and I chose not to have a TV in our room this year, for example, and that we’re happier for it. It’s not a secret that I’m unfamiliar with current actors, shows, movies, etc., and I can be a bit vocal with my indictments of both television and media in general.

I won’t list all of my reasons here, but unfortunately for everyone who has to listen to me (that includes you), this winter break has only solidified my opinions. Being home, I’ve been around the TV a lot,naturally. And spending so much time in front of the screen after a semester without it, I’m noticing something more keenly than before.

As I’ve sat in the family room for the past week or two something has struck me; the realization that I never actually noticed just how thin the women on TV are. How disproportionately thin. And I feel like it needs some addressing.

As I sit here, Jessica Simpson tells me on the Weight Watchers commercial that this year I can start a completely new and better life by signing up for their program and losing weight. A group of girls wiggling around in bikinis tells me that if I buy the South Beach diet bars I’ll be just as thin and happy as them. Special K is sure to inform me of everything that I’ll gain when I lose- confidence, power, moxy, everything I guess I don’t have on my own. And NutriSystem bombards me with near unbelievable before and after pictures (Marie lost 50 pounds!) that I can mimic if I buy their specially designed meals. In between The Big Bang Theory reruns I’m introduced to the next miracle pill that will help me shed two pants sizes. I learn that Planet Fitness has a special  2014 membership discount, you know, to help me be a thinner me in 2014 for only a few dollars a month if I sign up in these next few days.

All the while, these weight loss advertisements are intermingled with commercials for Pepsi, McDonald’s, Lay’s, Taco Bell, and Hood’s ice cream. It’s no wonder our country is so messed up when it comes to weight. Continuing its legacy of ironic paradoxes, America fights an obesity epidemic, while surveys of pre-middle-school girls report that many of them are already unhappy with their appearances and wish to be thinner.

Something is very wrong here, and commercials are only part of the problem. We see unspoken encouragements to lose weight everywhere- in TV programs, movies, shows, magazines, online catalogs and in shopping centers. Little by little, it adds up. In 2013, the Weight Loss Market took away $66 billion. That’s right. $66 billion made by savvy folks who line their pockets with all of your insecurities. Enough, enough, enough!

new-years-resolutionMy purpose here is to ask you for a favor. Please, don’t fall for it. Whoever you are- male or female, whatever age, whatever lifestyle. Don’t listen to these people. Don’t listen to the ones who are literally selling you what they call a better you- which in reality is only a thinner you. We all know that the most popular New Year’s resolution is usually to lose weight in the year to come. It’s Christmas all over again for those people who have taught the population that it isn’t good enough. I don’t want to pretend that I’m above it. I’ve struggled with my weight, my body and my appearance. But let’s be real, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t… especially within BC’s little corner of society.

I ask you to make other resolutions for 2014. Don’t resolve to lose weight. We’re told that our lives will be better if we strive to fit our culture’s impossible standards of beauty, and it’s a lie. Thinness is not an accurate measure of happiness or quality of life or content of character. Think of the people who inspire you. Family members and friends, authors, historical figures. What is it that you admire about them? Courage, integrity, humility, and creativity are some common factors. What never does come to mind, though, is their BMI. Resolving to make your life better is a beautiful thing, and it need not include any Jenny Craig undertones.

Here are some ideas instead. Nurture your relationships. Donate more. Take charge in your classes. Cross some things off of your bucket list. Make more lunch dates. Floss every day. Save more of your paycheck. Learn how to cook something new. Apply for that internship that you think you’ll never get. Go on a road trip. Take time to reflect. Read a book for leisure. Build up healthy habits. Pursue the things and people that make you feel alive. Play. Because let’s face it, there are much more desirable adjectives to achieve than thin, and many worse things you could be than not-the-thinnest-one.

Here’s to a 2014 spent loving ourselves for everything that we are.

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