Beauty, Part III ~ The Lengths We Go To

Earlier this year I saw a documentary called ‘The Truth About Size Zero.’ In it, a UK celebrity, Louise Redknapp, underwent a horrible crash diet and fitness boot camp to drop two dress sizes in just 30 days in a quest to become a US Size Zero (UK Size Four). The point of all of this was to highlight the dangers of our cultural fixation on thinness, and the day by day real consequences that extreme methods of dieting and exercise has on our bodies.

It was sobering to watch. The message was clear that it is not just our bodies that are altered as we drastically cut calories and tax ourselves with exercise, so is our emotional wellbeing, our relationships, our health and even our personalities!

We saw the physiological changes – the drop in energy levels, the lethargy. We saw the emotional rollercoaster that typically goes hand in hand with such regimes – the fragility, the tearfulness. We saw the mood swings and relationship consequences – at one point during that the documentary Louise’s husband, Jamie Redknapp, commented that she was “snappier” and more “sharp” than normal, because her body was not receiving enough food!

One part that really made an impression on me was a scene between Louise and her photographer. Although I can’t remember his exact words, he made the point that in his encounters with her over the course of her crash diet, she had somehow become more vacant towards the end.

This really struck me. That as our bodies shrink, so can our personality. As our strength wanes, so can our thinking and vitality and spark. If the price of our cultural physical ideal is becoming vacant and lifeless as a person, then surely that price is too high.

And what about the physiological problems that some of us endure in our lengths for thinness? Dizziness, insomnia, fatigue, headaches, irritability, dysentery, constipation, stomach cramps, nagging hunger, heart palpitations, weakness, body aches and bad breath. This list is not it either!

And what about the funds we part with to be beautiful? I read statistics such as the average woman in the UK spending in excess of GBP175, 000 (USD350, 000) on cosmetics and beauty products over her lifetime! And also that estimates of spending on diet products in the US alone is very possibly in the vicinity of USD100 billion!

If nothing else all of this points to the seriousness of our desire for cosmetic appeal, and the lengths we are prepared to go to.

So up to now we have looked at some of the reasons why our looks are so important to us. We have unravelled some of the issues which flow from linking our identity with our appearance. Today we’ve seen the toll that a focus on outward beauty can take on our bodies, our minds, our relationships and finances. We are aware of the problems, but are there answers? Is there any realistic possibility that we can be free of our cultural pressure and personal prisons? You may be surprised that God has a lot of encouragement and guidance for us on this whole issue. Come back tomorrow to hear more in the post, What Does God Say?

© Copyright 2007 Birgit Whelan

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~ by Birgit on August 12, 2007.

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