December 20, 2010 what is health?
ah, school and work free mondays. does it get any better than this? not really. spent the morning with k in the little town named sebastopol just north of us. drank a hemp milk latte and got some christmas shopping out of the way! tackled my dad’s gifts today and i am happy to report i scored! big time. bought my dad a lovely spread of grateful dead items…
(you can’t really read it but on the hoodie it says “san francisco somedate 1975…the year in which my dad graduated from high school in san francisco. he was and is (clearly) a dead head till death!)
and i indulged a little for myself, too…
(and yes, i’m feeling mighty feisty and fierce today if you couldn’t tell from the gestures and expressions!)
yes, i am born from a hippie. it only makes sense i am a little hippie, too 🙂
but, alas, hippie-ism and christmas presents are not the point of my post today. today i want to talk about health and what, exactly, it means. in the world of western culture, health tends to take on one main purpose: appearance. ever looked at those magazines lining the checkout stands of your local super market? you know, the ones doling out tips for flat abs and tips on how to avoid cravings and tips for being better in bed, at the work place, at the gym? the ones that thrive on telling you you’re not good enough? at anything.
can you tell i feel passionately about these magazines?
a few months ago candace and i subscribed to some magazines. we ordered yoga journal, vegetarian times, and women’s health, believing whole-heartedly it dealt with just that: women’s health.
imagine our surprise when we received our first issue. what type of “health” related articles did we discover? the same old shit we found in the pages of glamor and elle, two other women’s magazines: “how to blast belly fat!”, “how to get that dream bod — without any work!”, “ten diet DON’TS!”. we both found ourselves disappointed. severely disappointed. i mean, take a look at what came in the mail today…
(i originally had four saved from the past few months and they ALL LOOK THE SAME. but i couldn’t find them. so i apologize…just one and no comparisons :()
what did i tell you about those ab tips? and the looking better naked tips? and the 375+ smart new nutrition weight loss, health, fitness & style tips? in my (ridiculous, humble, unimportant) opinion, these magazines only serve to point out things for you to unnecessarily worry about. example? before college i never worried about the size of my pores or of my arms. come freshman year, i read an article about those two things and found myself fretting over my suddenly “large” pores and “chunky” arms. where’s the logic in that?
yes, i am aware that i happen to be a woman who is sensitive to these types of magazines (given my history with self-confidence) and i know not everyone reacts in the same way. and yes, i am also aware that these magazines do indeed help some women. but, again, it is my personal opinion that these magazines do not focus on health. they focus on shit like “looking great naked”.
additionally, today, while shredding it with jillian michaels, i noticed the shit she was saying: “if you wanna go jeans shopping, you gotta commit to this workout!” or “if you want to go bathing suit shopping, you gotta commit!” or my favorite: “what do we want? MORE CALORIES BURNED.” what, we don’t want to just simply feel good, strong, and healthy? every motivating thing she said relied on the physical. it was so. LAME.
my point is this: there is so, so much more to health than your overall appearance. what about the health of your insides? your mind? your soul? are these things not equally important? yes, these magazines do have articles about these aspects of your life as well but the articles do not have as many words dedicated to them as say, the fucking flatness of your abs.
if there is one thing i have learned it is this: flat abs do not, i repeat, DO. NOT. determine one’s overall health. i had flatter abs in the past. but i was also binging and restricting and compulsively exercising in the past.
over the past year i’ve learned so much about health and how personal it is. to me, health is how you feel internally. it is matching the beauty of your outsides to your insides. it is feeling strong, happy, and confident, in body, mind, and spirit. it is laughing, crying, dancing, smiling. it is finding your passions and chasing your dreams. it is everything these magazines try to make you forget.
it depresses me see just how much our society values a “beautiful” appearance. because beauty is objective. a few months ago kate, authoress of the incredible blog eat the damn cake, wrote about beauty. as a culture, we have these standards we silently hold everyone up to. we all believe the person sitting next to us finds what our culture thinks to be attractive, well, attractive. however, if you took the time to talk to that person, he or she would most likely answer with something along the lines of “eh, actually, i’m much more into x, y, and z.” we all hold individual ideas about beauty. that’s one of the best parts of humanity: we’re so diverse.
i just wish our popular magazines expressed that.
see anything about flat abs or diet tips? neither do i. and that makes my heart incredibly, incredibly happy.
what is your definition of health?