Monday, December 14, 2009

Mental Health Mondays: The Other Side of the Spectrum

The following is a blog written by Brittany Buffam. (If anyone else would ever like to write something to post, feel free to email your submission to
As you read Brittany's thoughts about "the other side of the spectrum" in relation to body image, I hope you're really able to consider how this affects society as a whole, but also the individuals within society.

One of the major issues these last couple of years, in respect to girls, has been body image. That has mostly consisted of encouraging articles, photos, etc. on and of people who have different body types, namely bigger, than the skinny women who used to dominate the pages of magazines (luckily, things in that regard are getting better). Although I definitely think that’s great, and people should continue with it; I also have to wonder if the other side’s suffering a little for it. Now, I’m not one to gripe on little things that are said to me but there is one thing that seems to come up fairly often. A good example is when I was a biology class one time and we were talking about metabolism. My teacher asked two questions of us; “Which of you can eat twelve cheeseburgers and not gain any weight?” and “which of you can’t even look at a cheeseburger without gaining weight?”

Thinking that the first choice was probably the one that best suited me, I raised my hand, but I did so reluctantly. The thing is, I don’t think I’ve even eaten twelve cheeseburgers over the course of my nineteen years of living and the idea kind of grosses me out. I decided not to say anything because I knew the teacher was exaggerating and I didn’t want to make a big deal out of something that was said in passing. I also know that he did not mean it to be insulting, part of the reason I don’t fault him for saying it, but it’s still a good example of the stereotype I’m really starting to not like.

Let me tell you a bit about myself. My family has always been very big on healthy living and all it entails. There was some kind of exercise pretty much every day of the week and hardly ever any fatty or sugary foods in the house. This was how I was raised, so naturally I continue to be an active person who eats very little that can be referred to as unhealthy. That was simply the lifestyle I was raised to crave.

In addition, I have a grandmother who is in her early eighties and still walks and bikes around the town of Almonte, regularly swims laps in the fast lane, and often goes on nature and bird-watching hikes, not to mention walking tours around cities all over the world. I aspire to be like her and although I certainly don’t count my calories or even schedule my exercise, I take my health seriously and also take pride in the fact that I do lead a very healthy lifestyle.

So, when I get pigeonholed as somebody who “can eat twelve cheeseburgers” or somebody who probably doesn’t put any effort into their health, it really irritates me. To finish up; why don’t we just not make assumptions based on somebody’s weight? I realise that’s the base objective of all the media attention on people who have bigger body types, but let’s just not forget the other side of spectrum, okay? ^_^
- Brittany

So, what do you think, Athenites? As this "other side of the spectrum" been entirely downplayed, and how does that come into play in affecting our every day life?
Let us know what you think!
- Nadya

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