My wife and I are raising four children, two of whom are girls. That’s why I’m increasingly alarmed by the number of women affected by eating disorders. The two most common ones we hear about are anorexia nervosa and bulimia. I read that there are a
bout a half a million deaths per year due to complications from eating disorders. The illness affects mostly women and primarily adolescents. In 2006, the National Disorders Association indicated that an estimated five to 20 percent of those who have anorexia nervosa will not survive complications from it. Also in 2006, the Eating Disorders Coalition reported that between 40 to 60 percent of high school girls diet, about 30 to 40 percent of middle school girls have concerns about their weight, and 40 percent of nine year olds have dieted.
These statistics are disturbing, but not surprising, when you consider how the media and entertainment industry tend to embrace only rail-thin women. I think those stick-figure models look like they need to head to the nearest fast food restaurant for a burger, fries and milkshake! Unfortunately, our society has determined that thin is in and anything else is out. This mindset makes it difficult for me, or any parent, to convince our daughters that they are okay at any size. I recently heard an announcer say in a radio ad, “Are you a woman who has sometimes said to yourself, I feel overweight?” And I thought, yeah, I’m sure that ad applies to every woman. It angered me to think that some company would communicate that idea to a woman to persuade her to buy the product it was selling.
Most, if not every woman, have wondered if they are overweight, even those who are incredibly thin. With that in mind, I want to say to you today what my grandpa told me once when I was a little boy. He said, “Son, when you get married, make sure you marry a woman you don’t have to shake the sheets to find.” At the time, I remember thinking, “Say what, Grandpa?” Although I didn’t get it as a child, I now understand what he was saying. It’s okay for a woman to have a little meat on her bones. In fact, sometimes my grandpa would greet my wife, Jane, by saying, “Aah Jane, you look healthy. You must have gained a little weight.” Now most women reading this are gasping because it’s not something women typically want to hear, but my grandpa meant it as a compliment, and it’s how my wife took it. It was an encouragement.
If you’ve got a little meat on your bones, don’t be ashamed of it. It looks great! There are certainly boundaries and guidelines with body weight that can adversely affect your health. By not eating enough or purging your body of needed food, you can suffer from an eating disorder. Just like eating in excess can lead to health concerns like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and hypertension. There needs to be a healthy balance, which woman find difficult in this day and age where outward appearance determines inside appeal.
It’s important for all of us to be health conscious, but not to the extreme. If we spend all of our energy exercising, dieting, and fretting about the results, we’ll have nothing left for our spouse and children. We may garner compliments and attention from strangers, but our families will feel alone and disappointed.