The Ideal Weight

Social media has been part of my daily life since 2007. Next year will be ten years since I joined Facebook. My Instagram and Twitter accounts started a few years later. While I wasn’t first cab off the rank, I’d say I was an early adopter. I wanted in. I wanted to be part of the conversation. It started by hooking up with friends on Facebook who lived on the other side of the world to me and has now resulted in me having conversations with people I’ve never met who enjoy my writing or who simply want to have a chat to me about something we have in common. I love it. I mean… I FUCKING LOVE IT! That’s humanity. Connecting with fellow humans about shit that concerns us. Stuff that we’re equally passionate about. Stuff we want to change about the world we live in.

What I don’t love. And what I simply don’t understand is the trolling and the haters. Why oh why follow and engage with social media accounts that you clearly don’t enjoy or disagree with. I’m not talking about healthy debate because I absolutely believe that there should be space for people to discuss opposing views in our world. Embracing difference makes us good humans. No, what I’m talking about are the people that feel the need to bring others down. People that feel the need to hijack conversations and incite debate about content they ostensibly know NOTHING about. Mostly they hide under pseudonyms and behind their keyboards dishing out advice and judgement.

I make conscious decisions about the accounts I follow, what posts I comment on and how I engage with my social media life. For example, I don’t follow any Kardashian-esque type people. I have zero interest in their view on the world. The products they promote. The relationships they’re in or what they call ‘normal’. Lifestyle and social commentary from people that live with privilege adds no value to my own life so I just don’t engage.

I didn’t engage with anything American politics (until I fucking had to, November 9 was a dark, dark day that required lots of wine) and I don’t follow right wing politicians because I’d rather spend my time and energy learning and debating things I understand or can at least empathise with. I cannot empathise with people who are intolerant of peoples right to choose how they live, who they love, who they worship, how they die, or how they raise their child.

 

The media and our consumption of it plays such a big part in our lives that often times we are unaware of exactly how much it influences our version of normal. It’s so easy to assume a level of authority when we read something in the press, hear something in the news or see a photo with a good filter on Instagram.

We’ve always had the mainstream media and their so-called ‘professional’ judgement but over the past decade this voice has become amplified by the cacophony of keyboard judges from all over the world. People who have little experience and even less empathy now pass judgment on what they see on social media. Worse, these people set trends and make a living by dictating what is cool, what is acceptable and what should make you happy. Making us feel that anything less is simply a lesser life

I call bullshit. This is not reality.

We see smiley happy people on social media all the time.

Photos can be deceiving. Of course we smile for the camera! That’s what we do. That’s what we’ve been taught to do since we were kids (tell me you don’t make your kids pose every single day for a quick selfie?).

I met a friend yesterday who I hadn’t seen in years. I’d been keeping up with her life through her great Facebook updates that told me she’s been travelling a lot, having a wildly successful career and her child is a happy growing cherub. When we met up I learned that her Facebook posts were her way of staying sane and putting on a brave face in what had turned out to be the worst year of her life. I get that. I think it’s definitely OK to put your best foot forward and help heal any hurt by painting the picture you want, instead of sharing every nuance of the rough times with people who you don’t see that often (I love my Facebook friends, but I actually only get to hug a handful of them every year!).

So, with my friend’s story in mind, I ask why do we continue to compare ourselves to others by what we see on social media? Why do we benchmark our lives, our happiness and our weight loss goals on the lives of others?

The ideal weight is not that which you see on the Instagram account of a bright 20 something model. It’s not the size 10 off the shelf at your favourite clothing store. It’s not the newsreader with professional hair and makeup applied daily. Hell, it’s not even what the BMI indicator tells you.

Your ideal weight is the weight that makes you spring out of bed in the morning because you’ve had a restful night’s sleep. It’s the weight that sees you making good food choices most of the time. It’s the weight that makes you spread kindness and inspire tolerance with all that you meet because you have patience, understanding and a good heart. It’s the weight that makes you achieve your life goals – whatever they are. It’s the weight that helps you travel the world. Raise your kids. Get that new job. Learn a new skill. It’s the weight that allows you to do absolutely nothing and be happy and confident in that choice. It’s the weight that lifts the burden of a society norm and empowers you to say ‘fuck that, I’m doing it my way’.

Your ideal weight is yours and yours alone. Noone can understand what it feels like to be you. Losing ten kilos may make the same difference to one person as gaining 10 kilos does to another.

When it comes to fitness and weight loss, the ideal weight is not something that you can see. It’s something that you feel. And that’s something you’ll never get from a photo on Facebook.

4 thoughts on “The Ideal Weight

  1. Another awesome post, hitting the nail on the head as always Kim :). Far too often we, with an unhealthy mix of ignorance and arrogance, push our opinion of “normal” on others. We judge them by our own standards. Standards we could barely ever achieve ourselves.
    The ideal weight is a completely subjective and highly individual notion. It can never be compared to any general, arbitrary or socially acceptable standard for consumption by the masses.

    Your point that “noone can understand what it feels like to be you” is the most poignant for me. Given this, I feel it is high time that, in this and so many other subjects, we all just learn to take a step back and mind our own fucking business!

    Support the people around you through encouragement and kind, well considered thoughts, not opinions or the dreaded opinions-disguised-as-fact. It’s not helpful, it’s not supportive. It’s destructive, highly arrogant and self-serving.

    Social media may give us a glimpse (albeit microscopic) into the lives of others, it does not, however, entitle us to voice our, often ill-informed, opinions about what we see. If there’s one word that has been distorted and misused more than “normal” in recent times, it’s “reality”. It’s all perception folks, largely unrealistic and deliberately curated perception.

    The quicker we realise that, the happier and simpler our lives could become. In the words of Hamm from Toy Story, “Go back to your lives citizens. Show’s over!”

  2. Such a problematic word, ‘ideal’, really, so it’s an aptly named blog post that scrutinises the term well and in several thought-provoking ways; thanks Kim.

    Every idealist is hugely disappointed (to borrow loosely from the line of thought of legendary comedian, George Carlin) by the constant let down of certain unattainability, and this is a lesson most will learn the hard way, especially those starting out in the world of social media as teens.

    But even the notion of ‘realness’ is heavily thwarted by media perceptions. ‘The ideal’ is now pitted against ‘the real’ and much of what really ever seems to ensue on social media, I feel, (and given my limited exposure), is a constant battle of egos. After all, social media is about the social and every system of networking and connection (or of being a ‘tethered self’ as one skeptic has viewed it) needs social pressure to keep conformity strong and to give it a renewed purpose with each and every login. Therein lies the buzz, the craving, the urgency to adapt, the illusion of evolving.

    Not that I condone trolling, but the fact of the matter is, all societies that revolve around networks of people include division and discontent – we live in a world of over sharing and sharing isn’t always caring.

    I really like, Kim, how you’ve likened an ‘ideal weight’ as more of a measure of how one feels day to day as opposed to how one thinks they should look. I feel strongly about this, too. Everything, from images and words, both heavily subject to the tyranny of editing and embellishment, to the annoying, gets-on-my-fucking nerves, notion of ‘mindfulness’, has been repackaged and sold right back to us, the very inventors of thought and feeling, and, ludicrously, we are buying it, too!

    Very sad to think that bringing awareness back to the self and looking inwards for guidance and resolve has become ‘the new frontier.’ It’s becoming harder and harder to be a humanitarian in this crazy world we live in. In whom can we trust if not ourselves? Trump says it all.

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