The other evening, I ran across an HBO movie titled Real Women Have Curves and watched it, thinking it was about how women of all sizes learn to live with their bodies and love it. Wrong! To my surprise, the movie was about a young Latino woman who discovers her worthiness despite the negative messages she hears daily from her mother.
It made me think about how each New Year, many women start by looking in the mirror and thinking, ‘I’m too big. If only I can lose weight, this year will be better.’ And this is where the movie comes in.
The young woman, played by America Ferrera, is constantly at odds with her mother over what women should do to live a good life. The number one advice from her mother is “Lose some weight so you can get a man. You’re too fat to be attractive.” For a while, it appears the young woman is going to give in and accept the way the mother thinks about her curves and her looks as her destiny.
But when her mother tells her no man wants a fat woman, she finally accepts a date with a young man she graduated with, and after several dates decides to test her mother’s theory. They have sex, but before they do, she undresses with the lights on and tells him, “I want you to see what you’re getting.” Needless to say, he finds her beautiful, and it goes well.
So, she discovers that her weight is not going to determine her life.
She presses against other motherly advice she’s been given, and her efforts pay off. Each time that happens, her mother sees her influence over this daughter grow smaller and smaller. Still, the mother sticks to the “fat” issue and tries to shame her daughter by telling her how unfulfilled her life will be because of her fat.
Isn’t that we do when we tell ourselves this year will be better if I lose the weight? Are we being fair about what it really takes to have a better New Year?
The highlight of the movie is when America Ferrera, who works with five other women and her mother in a hot garage making dresses, suddenly says, “I can’t stand this heat!” and disrobes. She marches back to her work station in her bra and panties revealing her actual size to the rest of the women. Her mother is mortified. But once she does it, a second woman disrobes. Then a third. Then all but her mother, who cannot believe they are undressing in front of each other. They compare stretch marks, cellulite, curves and other imperfections, but you can see how free they feel shedding those clothes in the heat.
That’s what the New Year should mean. Of course losing weight is an important goal for our lives because it improves our health. But we are more than a magic number on a scale. To be fair, the goal for a better New Year should be about more than the fat on our bodies. Perhaps with some reflection, we could find other areas of our lives that are weightier issues we may want to shed as well. When we seek overall self-improvement, the body weight often follows suit.
Why not first concentrate on a personal goal that will help you shed something negative from your life. Some examples could be:
1) Improving an important relationship (your mother, your sibling, your spouse, your best friend
2) Forgiving someone
3) Showing gratitude
4) Taking the time to meditate each day
5) Doing something important for yourself (that doesn’t have to involve spending money) once a week.
Then watch the magic of a New Year begin.