Saw the title of a novel “Fat is the New 30” and it made me laugh. And then not laugh. Haven’t read the book yet, but I think there is way too much truth in the title. It pains me.
I remember growing up and hearing the phrase “Never trust anyone over 30.” I didn’t totally understand it much at the time, but since I think I was born hyper-analyzing most things, I did spend some time trying to figure it out. I was rather sheltered, so the people I knew over 30 were for the most part good people who cared about other people and kept negative stuff away from children, so it was a bit confusing. They didn’t seem untrustworthy. I never quite got it.
I learned later the “distrust” came from the student uprisings in the 60s on a wide variety of topics….Vietnam, racism, the lack of opportunity for women. All areas I agree that those over the age of 30 at the time were not doing enough to stop. And all areas where those students started moving our society to talk, and argue, and work through some messy issues. I salute these students and admire them for what they did. But overall, I don’t think it was about the age. I think it was about the mindset.
I believe that years often bring wisdom and perspective and an understanding that is more developed than the young. But for some it only results in them completely shutting the door on their mind. So those over 30….some are to be trusted, some not. The rule applies to those under 30, too!
But what did all of this “30” talk do to people? It made people fear turning 30. It made aging a horror. It made people old before their time. It made them obsess over a natural process. It made them think they needed to slow down and stop living a little.
We’ve since changed a bit lately about the idea of aging. Or maybe it’s just my perspective changing. I’m aging and finding that each year seems more of a gift than a death sentence. I know people in their 90s who are not only gifted conversationalists, but still active, vital people who inspire me every time I am around them. And that’s multiple people….not just one or two! Life seems good and fun and to be enjoyed at any age.
But we’ve changed for the negative, too. Some want to have the same body and face as their 20s. I could say that logically that is impossible….but it actually is not impossible these days. We have to make decisions about everything from the color of our hair, to botox, to plastic surgery. The options are endless. Though sometimes the results just make people look sadder and desperate (and, well, weird) rather than young. Personally I think we have to make a happy contented face be the new goal, rather than one without wrinkles. But I have friends who feel differently….and who want to take advantage of all of the possibilities.
And so we come to the fat. Weight is something I have struggled with all of my life. I never had that time when I was among the slimmest of any of my contemporaries. And people were cruel back then. They are so much more cruel today. It’s become an acceptable area of ridicule and discrimination. And that ridicule doesn’t start with the kids…. it starts with the adults. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard an adult insult a person with a “fat-related” adjective (and the issue they are upset about is NEVER about their weight.) And they do this even if they are overweight themselves! What is wrong with people? Does pointing it out seem to be helping? No, people are getting fatter. We’re moving less and eating more and yet obsessing about our weight all at the same time.
The last few years I have decided not to be ashamed of my body. It’s strong, it is not sick often, and it is forever changing. More often than not these days, I think changing for the better. I try to eat well, and with variety, and not obsess over every calorie. I’ve done the obsession thing and it doesn’t produce longtime results that keep me healthy. It just gets me angry about who I am, makes me hate the way I look, and well, starts me overeating.
I also try to exercise and am trying to change my mind about hating it. OK….I still pretty much hate running, but I love that I am improving and don’t hate it every time I do it. And if I look at where I was and where I have come, I am proud. Not great if I compare my progress to that of others….but I have learned I don’t do well when I do that. I try to only compete against my self, and my goal is not a finish line. It is to continue to be active throughout my life. I get to hike and kayak and bike (if there are no hand brakes involved) and do all kinds of fun things that are flat out fun!
I was out with a group of girlfriends a couple of years ago, listening to music at a local winery (Daveste….the music of Rick Edminsten, to be precise.) Though we were celebrating my birthday, I actually knew very few of those ladies before that night. My friend Barb has just planned an evening and since it happened to be around my birthday, it was a reason to celebrate. Barb had brought cupcakes and every single one of the 12 ladies ate one. You may wonder why I mention that, but it had been a long time since I had been out with that many ladies and every single one felt the freedom to eat dessert (and I don’t recall it happening since.) It still makes me smile, because I know these ladies a little better these days and what I admire about them is their joy of life. They spend their time dancing and laughing and having fun. Few have issues with weight, but they also are not the types who would point out yours. Instead they would pull you out to the dance floor. Laughing all the way. And that spirit is what I want for both the women and men and boys and girls in my life….that we would eat lots of kinds of good food, be active together, and celebrate life. And I have a feeling, that it would make the fat fall off, make the age not matter, and make life more fun to live.