I was reading in a magazine recently about targeting my ‘problem areas’ – you know, those persistent areas of body fat that are the first place you gain weight and the last place you lose it. And rather than, as the article intended, going away considering my diet and lifestyle options to address this terrible problem of mine, I went away thinking about why we accept and repeat such detrimental language to ourselves. Who created this dialogue, and why do we facilitate it?
The Oxford English Dictionary defines a problem as: a matter or situation regarded as unwelcome or harmful and needing to be dealt with and overcome.
We perpetuate this dialogue because we’ve heard it so often, without even thinking about the words we use, and the impact and effect of them. I for one, have frequently used this term to describe areas of myself with fat deposits which are a little more stubborn to change. Though why did it take me until the age of 30 before I stopped and thought about the words I repeat so readily?
Regardless of whether a person may wish to lose weight, a problem area is simply defining genetics. And specifically, this nasty societal habit we have of negatively framing female genetics.
When I gain weight, I’ll gain it on my bum and my thighs. It loves to sit there, a bit dimply and with the added tell-tale signs of stretched skin. It’s the first weight gain to come and the last to leave; always. The tops of my arms too. The thing is though, it just does this. It’s a natural programming, my bodies natural storage to promote my health and my hormones, and it’s just my shape. Why am I being told it’s a problem? Did I consider that this was an unwelcome situation I should strive to change before I was told that it was one?
Where our bodies store fuel varies across individuals. Some are more typical than others but that’s about the extent of it. It’s a healthy, natural variation and composition. Is it helpful to me to label myself a problem, a part of my genetics a problem, and my shape a problem? Not really, no.
Of course you can strive to change your shape if you wish to or lose body fat if you chose to do that too. But when we’re told our naturally occurring shape is tantamount to a ‘problem area’ we’re telling ourselves that we ought to change it before we’ve even considered if this is a choice we’re making for ourselves.