Monday, April 27, 2009

Let the Games Begin!

In NYC, a high-end gym advertises at a bus stop near me: "Memorial Day Countdown: Are You Ready?"

Ready for what? Memorializing those we've lost? Hot summer days? Barbecues and lollygagging, swimming and holidays? The implication is clear. We don't even call it summer anymore; it's "bathing suit" season and everyone knows what this means.

Alas, it could be worse. A reader sent me this photo, a bus stop in the Netherlands, where the bus goer's weight is displayed as (s)he awaits transport, part of an ad campaign for a local health club.

Reactions?

20 comments:

PTC said...

Having been to the netherlands, I can tell you one thing that caught my eye, I did not see one overweight person. This is the reasoning that I've come up with for that. First of all, everyone rides bikes there. If you've seen pictures of Amsterdam or what not, you've probably seen the hundreds of bikes and bike parking lots. Everyone rides everywhere!! Also, much like NYC, many people use public transportation rather than driving, that means that people are out walking more...and there's no one stop shopping. Usually you're going to one store for meats, another for bread, therefore you have to move around much more than you do in Amerca.

On another note, I didn't notice any emaciated (I'll say) females there. I just feel like Europeans are overall more healthy than we Americans. Their food is healthier (natural, not processed crap) and they really take their time when they go out to eat. It's not all rush rush.

So, that's my experience there. It seems funny that that ad would be in that country when I didn't notice a weight "problem" there or that people really were concerned about their bodies (appearance wise, not health wise).

Linda said...

I lived in Belgium for about a year and visited the Netherlands quite often. I have to tell you that this doesn't surprise me at all, because there are very, very few overweight people there. Walking and riding bikes is more prevalent, and enjoyable since there's a lot less traffic and beautiful countryside. There's less emphasis on autonomy and more emphasis on community, so as a whole, there is better community consciousness. You never see curtains/drapes closed and at supper time, if you walk around neighborhoods, you'll see people enjoying dinner together inside, usually with groups of 7 or more. You see other advertisements with nude images. In general, it's less puritanical and more realistic. I bet no one there disputed that concept. Here, on the other hand, you'd have a bazillion people claiming that it is discrimination or just plain offensive. It's simply two different societies. BTW, my husband and I want to retire in the Netherlands. It's an amazing place. And, Amsterdam was my least favorite place there. You really have to travel the countryside to get a good feel for it. The one big city I loved was Den Haag. Very cool place!

Yvette said...

Ick. I have decided a long time ago that I simply will not let a number define who I am. A few years back, while thinking seriously about about getting a gastric bypass, I underwent pre-medical screening that measured by body weight minus water, fat, and other "stuff". Basically, I received the weight of my bones and organs. The number was 140lbs. According to the infamous "charts" that number for my height of 5'2" places me in the heavy to overweight catergory for things such as life insurance policies. So for me to weigh 140 lbs I would have to be dead, drained of all fluid and with a body fat percentage of 0%. But I could get an insurance policy without being rated up. How much pain and anguish and body hatred I would have missed out on if I had known how unrealistic the weight goals I had set for myself were 25 years ago. Instead I tried to yoyo diet myself into being tall and willowly and completely screwed up my metabolism. Now I have to slowly reset my metabolic rate through careful weight loss. I have adjusted my goal weight to not include a number but to include how well I feel...not easy for an emotional eater. My hope is that my knowledge can help my four year old daughter who has my bones and build learn to love her body for the magnificant, strong, sturdy structure it is. I know what a battle that will be because I will be fighting the media, her classmates, and my ex-husband. My opinion of the picture, in the words of sponge bob, TARTER SAUCE. Thanks for your blog. I enjoy it very much.

Myrte said...

Hi,

I'm actually from the Netherlands and I was shocked to see that ad. I think it's a disgusting way to "confront" people with their health and the way they look. I can imagine that compared to the US we don't look overweight, and you rarely see very obese people. Still, half of the Dutch adult population is overweight (BMI over 25, not saying that is an appropriate measure, but it's the one the government uses). So the situation may not be as dramatic as elsewhere, but it's certainly not the case that all Dutch are more healthy than Americans.
Eating disorders are also prevalent in the Netherlands, I have been diagnosed with one myself (anorexia nervosa). For me, this is an extremely hurtful and triggering ad. Weight should not be a public issue, at least not THIS public.

Leigh said...

I would LOVE to see someone try this in LA - people would absolutely flip out! It would be just one more reason to avoid mass transit in this town...

"Bathing suit season" lasts a lot longer here in SoCal so women feel the pressure for much of the year. as if we needed any more from outside sources.

Lissy said...

that's a disgusting ad, making us a number.

how can we get anywhere in this world if our weight is so important?

azusmom said...

Leigh, too true!!!
We moved out of L.A. almost 3 years ago, after living there for 9 years. It's amazing how many people you see leaving Crunch gym on Sunset Blvd only to light up a cigarette.
It's all about appearance and not about health, for a lot of folks.

As for me, I am SO ready for the pool! I love summer!!!!!!

Kiersten said...

Whether or not people in the Netherlands are overweight, that bus stop scale is just wrong. People should not have to currently be reminded of their weight. Things like that are exactly why people are becoming obsessed with weight and body image. Do they actually think that is going to motivate an overweight person to lose some weight? If I was overweight and sat at that bus stop, I think I would be very upset. It's like they are trying to make a spectacle out of overweight people.

donna said...

If I were her, I would put the bag under my seat instead of on it! But she doesn't look like she needs to worry about her weight, from the look of her. Having read earlier comments, the ad is probably not offensive to people in the Netherlands since their society is in general good health and probably not all of the "must-diet-to-be-healthy" mentality. In American society it is probably considered offensive since so many people are diet- and weight-obsessed and they don't want reminders of their shortcomings.

Love your site! Body/mind psychology is one of my favorite subjects!

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Lisa said...

I wonder if there's a corresponding ad with a man in the seat.

mejean said...

Having lived in Amsterdam, although just for a paltry two months, I wonder how much the existence of the ad can be attributed to Dutch culture. I found that people were much more likely to be candid and state things that Americans would hesitate to express. Dutch readers?

carla said...

WOW. that isnt a joke?!

MizFit

Liz said...

That is absolutely insane! Are we sure that's not a joke?

I wonder if in Europe, thinner people aren't also a result of lifestyle. We drive everywhere, and I think there's a lot more walking done. Storage is much more at a premium, so they don't come home with 17 bags of groceries at one time. So healthy eating (or maybe it's less UNhealthy eating) is just a way of life. OF course, there's all that alcohol...

For a good message on self-acceptance, and trust in your own body and what you put in it, not the world's view of what your body looks like, check out "Health at Every Size," by Linda Bacon. For me, it's been truly transformative by helping me to see my body and my food in a while new light. I'm off that diet rollercoaster now and am enjoying the food I put in my mouth. It's just great.

Pamalamb said...

I'm not sure what bothers me more here - the "bathing suit season" the public scale bench, or the opinions of some of the respondents:
the big bad fat unhealthy Americans, the what you eat and how much you exercise = how fat/thin/healthy you are, the skewed ideas about what "over weight" and "obese" really mean.
How tiresome and how disturbing!!
Perhaps you should re-name this subject "Let the Myths Begin!"

Linda said...

Pamalamb - I just want to point out that YOU are the one who said "big bad fat unhealthy Americans." That's purely your perception about what you read because no one phrased it that way.

For the record, I believe Americans are more obsessed about a lot of issues than people in the Netherlands. Again, I pointed out the nudity in the ads there that you would NEVER find here in the states. The Netherlands is a much smaller country and while they may have the same issues, they are not as widespread and viewed as virulently as they are here in the states.

Pamalamb said...

No one never said "big bad fat unhealthy Americans" but people and the media are ALWAYS either implying it or just out-right saying it or screaming it in our faces. And that's why I get fed up with the mythconceptions that abound about fat/health/exercise/food etc.

Ashley said...

this is disturbing. i would never sit on that bench (and i'm normal weight)