So what does a Smart Car, a Sunfire, a Skylark, a Spyder Audi S class, a Sport Bentley, a Santa Fe, a Suburban, a Sebring Convertible, a Shelby, a Sonata, a Silverado, a Safari, a Silhouette, a Schacht and a Sterling Truck all have in common?
Hey while we are talking about cars with wheels, do you remember the story of the Little Engine That Could? Yes, this train story pre-dates the infamous Thomas the Train Tales. …and for those of you that don’t remember let me give you a brief refresher:
The major characters in this tale are:
[t]he happy locomotive on the toy train who breaks down and cannot go on, the pompous passenger engine who considers himself too grand for the task, the powerful freight engine who views himself as too important, and the elderly engine who lacks either the strength or determination to help the toys. The little blue engine always appears last and, although perhaps reluctant (some editions have the engine clarify her role as a switcher not suited for road-work), always rises to the occasion and saves the day for the children over the mountain. A 1976 rework featured art by Ruth Sanderson received a lot of attention at the time of its release, in part because the art reflected “the stereotypes of masculine strength and feminine weakness in vogue when it was written.” The little blue engine always appears last and, although perhaps reluctant (some editions have the engine clarify her role as a switcher not suited for road-work), always rises to the occasion and saves the day for the children over the mountain. The engine succeeds in pulling the train over the mountain while repeating its motto: “I-think-I-can”. (Thanks Wikipedia.)
In this children’s story, we learn that each engine was designed for a specific purpose and role—each engine is given specific attributes, talents and characteristics. When the toy train’s engine breaks down—one of the biggest problems is finding a substitute that correctly matches the form to the function. None are as just right for the job of being the engine of the toy train as the engine that breaks down. Each engine is designed especially for a certain job. Individuality and uniqueness are stressed throughout the story but this acceptance of individuality and unique characteristics are not carried into life or modern society.
We live in a day where everyone is buzzing about celebrating diversity, individuality and uniqueness while at the same time society is trying to force us to be all the same. You don’t believe me? Well, most public schools have dress codes. Employers have dress requirements. Teams have uniforms. …and everyone labels and pigeon-holes everyone who isn’t like them. We give each other labels like: poor/rich, red-neck/classy, athletic/nerd, black/white/Hispanic, Texan/Ohioan, smart/stupid, normal/handicapped, loud/quiet, talkative/shy, fat/skinny, healthy/sick…and the list goes on and on. This shows up in stark clarity when we talk about weight. While toting unrealistically sized models, and told that is the “model” of beauty we should all strive for, media also tells us that almost 70% of the US is obese or overweight.
It’s hard to ignore the relentless media coverage of America’s obesity problem, and well, just as hard to miss the evidence all around us….
If the average American woman is a size 14, wouldn’t it stand to reason that a size 14 would be the most common size sold in the United States?
Nope. In fact, size 14 is among the least purchased sizes out there for many manufacturers. So it seems that being a size 14 and buying a size 14 are in fact two very different things.
So let’s try to figure this out. If roughly 60 percent of the population is considered overweight, for argument’s sake, let’s say half of that number is women. So, of the estimated 310 million people in the United States, we can extrapolate that roughly 93 million are female shoppers in the double-digit size range.
But a funny thing happens on the way to the shopping mall. It seems that women who used to be a size 8 or 10 and have gained weight often simply don’t want to shop for a size 14 or 16. Consequently, they make do with what they have. Women sizes 20 and up, many of whom perhaps have been plus-size their entire lives, seem to be more likely to have accepted themselves physically and shop as frequently as single-digit sizes.
Because it’s easier to fit a wide range of people in a size 2 to 14, most manufacturers target this market. Above a size 14, fit becomes more difficult, because of the varying proportions involved; i.e., people carry their weight in very different places. Yet there are many companies devoted to this true plus-size customer because there’s an opportunity to make lots of sales. It’s the sizes in between that are getting squeezed.
If retailers place the greatest number of orders for sizes 4 to 8, that’s where manufacturers are going to focus their production models. It simply doesn’t make good business sense to go to the trouble of creating patterns and styles in a size 14 if nobody is going to buy them. At this point, a size 14 — again, the most common size in America — really does have something to complain about, because her choices are more limited than those in bigger and smaller sizes.
But there needs to be a certain level of personal responsibility here. How often have I told myself that while I love what I’m seeing in the mirror, it doesn’t make sense to spend $100 on a pair of pants, because what will happen to these pants when I lose weight? Now, there may well be no active plan in place to LOSE weight, just a nebulous desire to do so.
The truth is that somewhere in our heads (or maybe it was just my head, but I don’t think so) we have started to equate emaciated size zero models with healthy and anything over a size 10-12 as unhealthy. One of the most shocking things I encountered after weight loss surgery was having skinny people (that I perceived as healthy) talk to me about what it was like to be sick and skinny.
Many times these women were binging and purging to hide their pain just as much as I was stuffing my pain by eating. I began to realize that obesity and being overweight was just one side of our health issue. At the other extreme end of the spectrum, my “sisters” were much too thin. We are all trying to live up to a distorted image of beauty…and each of us responds differently to the pressure of the distorted image of health and beauty that the media creates. Some of us are challenged to meet the size zero “requirement”; while to others that is so far unrealistic we just don’t even try.
In a poor attempt to placate us and assure us that there are beautiful women at every weight, we have often been told that Marilyn Monroe was a size 14. What is this, an attempt to justify the fashion industry’s labeling of plus size starting at a 10-12. The truth is that sizes change and Monroe wasn’t that large, we know from measuring her dress that most of the time she was around a size 2.
A size 8 would have been roughly equivalent to a size 16-18 in the 1950s, obviously though this varies a shocking amount from brand to brand. So while it’s often lamented (rightly so) that female models and actresses today set a standard that no normal woman can realistically live up to, the same was true in the Marilyn Monroe era, minus Photoshop, even though she’s often used today as an example of how things were different “back in the day”. Probably the perception of the difference between then and now lies more in the fact that the average American is a lot bigger today. To this point, the average American woman in the 1950s had a 25 inch waist compared to Monroe’s 22 inches. A 22 inch waist that is then Photoshopped to look smaller, on the other hand, just isn’t healthily attainable, not to mention that any blemishes are also removed from pictures and film quite easily today via these modern editing techniques. Excerpt.
So how does the Little Engine That Could have anything to do with body image or health?
Well each of the engines knew who they were and what purpose they served. They didn’t have a distorted body image to contend with and so they were able to say, “NO”. They understood that they weren’t able to pull the toy train (as cruel as that might have seemed) so they said NO. As women we need to just say NO. We are not all going to be a size zero. We are going to be different sizes, different shapes, different colors and different ethnic groups—all of which will have an influence on our weight. Our weight is not a definition of who we are nor is it a definition of how healthy we are. The most healthy thing we can do for ourselves is accept we are uniquely crafted by God.
Psalms 139:13-17 NIV
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Jeremiah 1:5 NIV Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.
Before we can really begin to start getting healthy we must realize we are uniquely designed by God. We must fully understand that “we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10 NIV). That no two of us are alike and what we weigh (or don’t weigh) isn’t who we are (or aren’t).
Did you ever figure it out?
What does a Smart Car, a Sunfire, a Skylark, a Spyder Audi S class, a Sport Bentley, a Santa Fe, a Suburban, a Sebring Convertible, a Shelby, a Sonata, a Silverado, a Safari, a Silhouette, a Schacht and a Sterling Truck all have in common?
Almost nothing…they just all have wheels, a steering mechanism, a motor, they all start with an S, you can drive them, you can get places in them, the are transportation
—most importantly they are all different. They are each designed with a specific reason and purpose in mind
—AND so are you.