If all the mirrors in the world were suddenly to break, if we could no longer look at ourselves in reflected surfaces, if vanity were taken out of the equation, would you still work out and try to lose weight?
Think about that for a minute…I’ll wait.
Would I worry about my weight if I had no idea what I looked like? I don’t know. How much does vanity play a part in my desire to be fit and healthy? A lot, I’m afraid. More than I’d like to admit, really, but it’s the truth.
I read an article on Today’s Christian Woman called “The Year I Became a Total Hottie”. The article was about a 50-ish woman who lost a bunch of weight and suddenly she was getting all kinds of attention, and she readily admits it went to her head. She was in love with herself – the image in the mirror in front of her and all the trappings it brings with it. The focus of her article was pride and how it can take over and before you know it you’ve turned into Narcissus, pining away for your own reflection. Sometimes when you look in a mirror, you don’t notice certain things, but sometimes you look and see the whole ugly truth: this article was a mirror for me and I cringed at what the author wrote because it looked so familiar.
Last summer I got down to 152 pounds – the lowest weight I had been in years. Planning for my 20 year high school reunion was also just starting and I was so excited that I could be going as a thin woman. I wouldn’t have to worry that people would be judging me, whispering to each other, “Wow she got FAT!” I wanted to show my old high school boyfriends what they had missed out on by breaking up with me (not that I ever wanted to marry any of them). I wanted to be the Belle of the Ball and have everyone gush over how good I looked. Sad, but true – that was my main reason for wanting to go.
I gained a little weight back, but I’m happy to say that I am losing weight again, and I’ll probably (hopefully) be back down to the 150s by the time the reunion rolls around at the end of July, but now I am trying to decide if I really want to go or not.* If I take vanity and ego out of the equation, what other reasons do I have for wanting to spend the time and money to go? Suddenly, my original reason for wanting to go seems pathetic and selfish, and I really don’t want to be THAT person at the reunion – you know the one I’m talking about, I’m sure.
So, aside from the reunion, this article got me to thinking, “is vanity an okay reason for wanting to lose weight?” I think partly, yes, it is okay. Speaking as a married woman, it is a well known fact that men are visual creatures, and right or wrong, most men like their women at a healthy weight (I don’t for one minute believe that men want their women to look like rail thin supermodels – just ask the men in your life who they prefer: Kate Moss or Kate Winslet?) So of course I want to do what I can to keep my husband interested, and getting to a trim weight is just one of many things I can do (cooking a meal that doesn’t taste like sawdust is next on my list). I want his eyes on me, not the hot neighbor next door. (And just for the record, there is so much more to keeping a marriage interesting than just how we look, but for the purposes of this post, I focused on this one tiny aspect, k?)
What would happen though if we did take vanity out of it? Even if I could never visually see the results of my weight loss efforts, I’m pretty sure I could feel them. I think I would notice the increased energy, and the ease of movement, the improvement in my mood. And then there are the health aspects of it: lowered cholesterol, lowered rates of cancer, lowered rates of just about every disease versus that of overweight people. Longevity of life and being able to be active during that longevity are things I would appreciate also.
So, while I think it’s perfectly fine to like what you see in the mirror, don’t let it become your sole reason for losing weight. To be quite honest, I’m still struggling with this. It’s hard to shift my thinking, but vanity and ego really won’t get me very far and I want to go all the way with this.
*more on this in my next post! Ooooh, a teaser!