I’d hoped this blog would have some positive effects for others as well as for myself, and indeed it does appear to be doing so. Sharing my own experiences on my weight loss journey is inspiring some of the people in my life to take more active and/or positive steps on their own road. It’s wonderful to know that I’m doing good. Unfortunately, with good there is always bad.
A friend of mine is having to censor themselves around other people. Bringing up the subject of weight loss apparently hits a nerve, which honestly doesn’t surprise me that much. It hits a nerve with me, too, and rather obviously. This blog and my having bariatric surgery are direct proof of that. But this friend’s motivations for losing weight seem to be causing particularly intense discussions and it got me thinking.
What are your motivations for weight loss (if you have any)? What would you say are bad motivations for weight loss? And how do you define “bad”, exactly?
Of course ideally we should all want to lose weight to be healthier, and not because we’re caving under the pressure of a society that wants everyone to be waifs. However, this is not an ideal world we live in (or society wouldn’t put so much pressure on, well, everyone) and I can’t help but think it’s more healthy to acknowledge and own all of your motivations for losing weight even of some people might classify them as “unhealthy” or “bad”.
For example, I very much want to be healthier. I mentioned in my first entry that I have some pretty nasty diseases on both sides of my family, many of which are known to be caused/exacerbated by obesity. But I also listed vanity as one of my motivators. I’ve been feeling kind of ashamed that that’s the case, but now that I stop to think about it, I really don’t think I should be.
We are taught that vanity is a Very Bad Thing (though we praise celebrities for it, so good luck figuring out which lesson to go with). I agree that vanity, in excess, can be the cause of some nasty trouble. The dictionary defines vanity as:
“excessive pride in one’s appearance, qualities, abilities, achievements, etc.”
So yes, all things in moderation, don’t let it go to your head, etc. But there is a point before vanity crosses the line where being vain is actually a good thing. It’s the point that makes us keep ourselves clean and presentable for work (or public appearances in general), that drives us to practice a sport or an art so we’ll be good at it when the next tournament or concert comes, that causes us to make sure the house is clean before our parents stop by for dinner. It’s necessary to take pride in one’s appearance and oneself because our exteriors are a huge part of how we interact with the world around us. As long as you don’t cross the line, vanity is ok.
It’s taken me a lot of years to figure that out, by the way. I tend to think of people beyond the vanity line as being very shallow and repugnant. I hope very much never to become one of them. But in high school I had trouble recognizing the fact that liking yourself enough to feel good about yourself on a regular basis is not crossing that line. I know that now.
But so vanity is, in essence, all about liking oneself. I think it’s safe to say there are a lot of overweight people out there who don’t like themselves too much for one reason or another, and the reason I think it’s safe to say that is because I’ve been there. But ever since I’ve had my surgery…I like being me more and more every day now. And that’s a really, really nice change.
So yes, I had surgery in part because of vanity. I had surgery because I wanted to be able to like myself. I don’t see anything wrong with that. Doing something for vanity’s sake is not, I feel, intrinsically a Very Bad Thing. I have to live with myself all of my life. I would like to enjoy being me.
But honestly if you’re overweight and you want to lose weight, more power to you. I don’t really care what your motivations are. But I do recommend you be honest with yourself and that you be kind to yourself. You are the only you you will ever have.