There, I've gone and said it. After all the hoopla about the advertisement of LWM I do think that the obvious has to be stated. Compared to the Honkies, Singaporeans are on the chunky side of things. A local explained it to me that it was based on where their forefathers came from and that they in turn had been a stocky, hardy farming race. I like that, I can use that as my excuse some time.
I think what is rather closer to the truth is that it seems to me, based on my 6 week view of the SG world, that it's more a case of SG people really and truly loving their food, loving eating it, loving going out to eat, loving talking about food, preparing it, exchanging recipes and restaurant tips, planning going out to eat etc. etc. And here's the thing about it. I've met many many people who look pretty similar to that lady in the advert, but who don't seem to have any hang ups about either themselves or their weight. And nor do the people around them seem to have any problems with them or their weight. I guess that was one of the things that really riled me about the advert, that it was presuming an attitude on the part of society that doesn't really seem to be there.
Now in somewhat slimmer HK, I've noticed WAY more prejudice against chubbier people. More comments from anorexic shop assistants, more pressure from friends and colleagues, and much more emphasis on appearance. When we did our look-see here, I was astounded when the realtor met me in a crumpled shift dress and fit-flops. I remarked on the fact to a well-groomed lady I met doing the school tours. "Oh" she commented, the locals don't care much for what you wear or how you wear it, and shoes are utterly unimportant. But you just have to have the right handbag and the right car, and then you'll be ok." I clicked back to the home viewing, check, the BMW latest model and check the LV handbag.
I think at the end of the day, what the advertisers don't want us to know, is that, beyond first impressions,the people around you care more about you than your weight. Or your hair. When you're married, you marry for reasons other than appearance, and those are the things that sustain you when the going gets tough and the pounds creep up. Same with the kids. My son will quite merrily say, "mom, you're getting a fat tummy" and then cuddle me, and say "but I can still feel your ribs, so you're ok, and I love you" Friends are your friends, and often someone around me would have to either gain or lose a tremendous amount of weight (well over 10kg) before the comments start flowing. Not the 2-5kg that most of us obsess about.
Yes there are health issues. Yes there are self-esteem issues. The self-esteem issues largely disappear though if you quit buying women's magazines and don't watch much TV. After reading 12 steps to a compassionate life, and my latest foray into understanding Anger and Irritation (*see very good way to analyze your emotional incidents from the book below *) because the helper is still around while we process a new helper and try and get her motivated to find a new job and she's irritating the hell out of me, I came across a wonderful book yesterday "The Compassionate Mind" by Paul Gilbert which I've started reading - and have found so much of relevance. I have to share a couple of quotes with you:
"A key problem with a sense of self and self-awareness is that just about any problem can become linked to it. If I put on too much weight because I don't control my eating, if I make mistakes, if others reject me, if others criticize me, if I struggle to understand how my computer works when others seem to do this easily - just about anything can become a way of judging and experiencing myself negatively. I then have two problems: the annoyance or disappointment about the thing itself, and the experience of me as inferior, bad, defeated, unloved or inadequate in some way. The annoyance or disappointment over the thing itself may dissipate quickly, but my ruminations about myself as inferior, incompetent, lacking willpower or whatever can stay with me for hours, days, weeks or even years, constantly underming my happiness"
and here's one for all of us who keep on moving house, country, home, life - at last a real psychological / brain research reason for why we feel the way we feel (sometimes, and why I started off calling myself Gweipo) :
"So we have positive feelings when we are succeeding at these things, such as gaining status and friendships, having a sense of connectedness to friends and family, having our own families. But we can experience very negative emotions when these important aspects of our lives are blocked and we feel like outsiders, disconnected from family or friends, and / or feel as if we have been reduced to a lowly status and are inferior"
I don't think anyone consciously choses to be overweight or obese (except for Morgan Spurlock). It's something that creeps up on you, usually when other things are busy making life tougher than it needs to be, like moving house and country, like giving birth, like falling pregnant and moving house just before or just after giving birth, like losing your identity while moving, like losing a job, career, lifestyle. Reading "The compassionate mind" I'm beginning to realize the times that my weight has been in a good old normal range (i.e. normal BMI right where it ought to be round about 20 - not that of a super-model or yummy mummy, just that of a normal fit human), have been the times that I've been the happiest and most personally fulfilled. I've been in "the zone" with myself. It's the times when I've been nice to myself, taking good care of myself. Compassionately feeding myself healthy meals, setting boundaries on myself, like a good mother would, making sure I get enough sleep and regular exercise. Times when I've not been beating myself up with "woulds" and "coulds" and "shoulds".
I'd like to get back into that space.
|From: Overcoming Anger and Irritability - William Davie|