How to avoid being shallow

I have always disdained those who love their appearance too much, those who cultivate a beautiful body, which they use as a bargaining tool. My revulsion with the beauty cult started in seventh grade when a cluster of my female acquaintances, with perfectly nice 13-year-old bodies, shared that they were dieting as I surveyed their bare lunch trays, with a sprinkling of red apples and low-fat yogurts, as we sat in our sunny cafeteria. These were the popular girls. They were already richer and better dressed than I. I remember thinking that they were totally ridiculous for dieting when there was nothing wrong with their bodies. How neurotic. How weird.

My disavowal of body-focused inwardness (of the female variety) has been in many ways quite useful and in many ways compromising.
I have striven to accept myself. I have refused to buy into the culture of anorexia and self denial.
I have refused to pass the cake slice at parties, as so many of my friend did. I ate the cake.

But after four decades of single minded individualism, coupled with a pleasure-seeking, celebratory disposition that loves food, drink, and fun, I’ve ended up not fitting in my pants.

So I’ve decided to be more healthful, and this means doing things like joining, my employer’s wellness challenge, and (they could really use some re-branding) Weight Watchers–I mean after all, watching my weight go up is what got me here in the first place.
I’ve been trying to understand my aversion to nutritional self control, and I’ve finally figured out two really helpful things thanks to my friend Jessica:
1) I’m not being punished, I’m being healthful and taking care of myself.
2) Being careful with your health does not equal being shallow.

Voila! Let’s hope this new perspective translates to action. It’s certainly helping my attitude (constantly wondering, “why am i being punished?” makes it hard not to eat chocolate.)

One thought on “How to avoid being shallow

  1. Those all sound like good ideas. Other things I’ve found helpful are doing yoga for exercise (because it’s like learning a craft, rather than simply running in circles or picking up heavy things then setting them down again) and avoiding restaurants.

    Don’t dimiss shallowness, though. I find it to be a huge help in my fitness regime. I have all kinds of high-minded justifications for my consciously healthy behavior–yoga and weight lifting are ways to experiment with being present in your body, not overeating is a part of a broader practice of mindfulness, etc. etc.–but in the end for me it’s all about shirts. What matters is that I fit into my nice ones and look good without one. In the long run I’d find high-mindedness by itself enervating–it’d transform exercise into just one more goddamn thing to work hard at-but having looks and sex as the ultimate motivator makes good health an indulgence.

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