Thursday, June 29, 2006

Qualm of the Day

I was thinking earlier about the many qualms that most of us encounter daily. They involve what we eat, what we say, who we hang around with, our secret and not-so-secret sins, what we recycle, where we live, how we spend our time and money, whether we volunteer our efforts anywhere, you get my drift. (I'm sure I've left out a few.)

I like to think that I myself, the nonpareil (the noun, not the adjective) Ms. Kitty, have NO ethical issues that are unresolved. By now I certainly should have all my ethical decisions well in hand, no ethical stone unturned, no ethical birds in the bush or hand. I am, after all, an elder stateswoman. We have few ethical decisions left to make, right? You know, Living Wills, Dead Wills (I guess that's the will they read after you're gone), who we sleep with, or not, who we want to take care of us "when we're 64".

But I find that there are a number of qualms that beset me still and that I struggle with daily, things I never expected to face.

One big one is Food and Being Thin. How much should I, a 64 year old woman, still be worrying about being thin? In my opinion, behind the "being healthy" issue that is the purported reason for eating very little and being thin lurks the old "feminine body image" dragon of sexiness. If being thin and eating little is such a healthy thing to do, how come virtually all post-menopausal women are thick around the middle? Our bodies work that way; very few women escape this condition of poochiness around the middle. What if Nature intended for us to get a little poochy, to lose our waistlines, to carry a little belly fat? What if this was a way Nature intended to shift us from being Sex Kitten to being Sophia the Wise?

Why might poochy bellies on post-menopausal women be a good thing? Just a few possibilities that spring to mind: to provide protective insulation to our internal organs as our circulation slows down and we get cold sooner; to provide weight for our bones to support so that they don't atrophy as quickly as we age (you know, weight-bearing exercise); to take us out of the sexiness gene pool so that younger women can have the babies; and, of course, to make it reasonable for us to wear comfortable clothes. Surely the ubiquitous quality of this characteristic says something about its usefulness! It even happens to post-menopausal women in primitive societies, who have presumably let go of the need to be sexy and are looked to for their wisdom instead.

But nooooooooo, daily I read in the paper and see on the news all the drawbacks of belly fat. And I've tried, I really have tried to erase my poochiness. I exercise, I eat properly, I am not a couch potato. I have dieted successfully in the dim past; since I quit with the hormonal additives, I have gained back every ounce I've lost on a diet. No diet has kept me thin longterm since I was in my 50's. The only thing I think would work would be to cut my food intake in half and double my exercise. And for what? What kind of fun would life be if I was hungry and tired all the time?

So my ethical decision about Food and Being Thin is this: I am going to eat what I like but not overdo it and I will take responsibility for whatever health issues this creates. And I am going to quit worrying about being thin. I think I am meant to have a poochy belly and a big grin, and I will take responsibility for whatever this brings into my life.

Amen, Shalom, Salaam, and Blessed Be.


Joel Monka said...

We men have an image problem about weight as well, it's just not as severe; we're allowed to look like we have a healthy reserve, we don't have to look terminal-illness thin. Still, those of us way beyond the "healthy reserve" size can empathize with what the average woman must go through, with the continual dieting, etc.

Great blog beginnings- you write very well, and I look forward to reading for a long time.

Christine Robinson said...

The older you get, the more extra weight is good for you. (within reason, of course.) It gives you a reserve against illness.

ms. kitty said...

Thanks to both of you for your cogent comments.

Christine, I've been enjoying your blog for awhile and you are one of my inspirations as I set forth on this public journal journey.

Joel, nice to meetcha.

LaReinaCobre said...

It is occurring to me that I don't want to be worrying about my weight for the next 34 years. That means I have to stop worrying about my weight now.

I don't think that thinking about it so much helps at all. My mother is very thin and she says she hardly ever thinks about food. All of us who are on diets to lose weight seem to think and talk about it quite a lot.

ms. kitty said...

Amen, Sister Copper Queen. Thanks for your comment.

Chalicechick said...

(((I don't think that thinking about it so much helps at all. My mother is very thin and she says she hardly ever thinks about food. All of us who are on diets to lose weight seem to think and talk about it quite a lot. )))

I had a political science professor who said we only make rules about what we're afraid of. Only dieters have rules about what they can and can't eat.

Only religious conservatives want to have rules about sex, etc.

It was an interesting idea.


ms. kitty said...

Chalice Chick, what a great insight! You have expanded my universe immensely! Thanks.

Judy said...

I'm 62 and still on HRT (until 65,when my doc says I must stop). It's depressing to think that when I stop those little pills, I will gain back the 20 lbs. I lost this past year.

Yes, still a bit poochy in the middle (I will NEVER AGAIN have a flat belly), but I feel so good--strong, healthy, fewer problems with body (I will NOT go into detail on the Internet...), liking what I see in the mirror instead of going "Yuk!," which is how I used to react to what I saw there.

I went to Weight Watchers, which is the most humane weight loss program in the universe. No fads, good solid healthy rationale, easy to follow.

I agree with you in theory, Ms. Kitty, as a feminist who hates the messages our culture gives women about their bodies. But OTHO, it sure feels good to be putting 20 lbs. less pressure on the world every time I take a step.