I am overweight. Why? Partly it's genetics. Partly it's medical. Partly it's my ass's propensity for the couch and mouth's propensity for ice-cream.
Partly it's marketing schemes I swallowed when I was a child and didn't know any better that led to me becoming addicted to sugar. Partly it's society that told me being overweight was disgusting, made me look at myself with disgust, and led me to devalue myself to the point where I allowed myself to become even more overweight. Partly it's my lack of motivation to lose weight due to previous failures.
In other words, I've been booby trapped. Not like the Best for Babes booby traps - they talk about why women chose to use formula instead of breastfeed. No, I guess I've been fatty trapped.
Except, a lot of the reason - like 90% at least - is me. I've made the choice to stay the way I am. Not consciously, but it's not like I've done everything in my power to change.
And I know being overweight is unhealthy. Given my family's history of high cholesterol, diabetes, and arthritis, I know that loosing weight could save my life - make me healthier.
I know that I am not being the best role model I can be for my children. When I choose ice-cream over exercise, what am I showing them?
It's wrong. And I know it's wrong. And there are times I feel very guilty about it. And there are times I feel angry about it. And there are times I feel powerless.
But, do you know what? When I see media messages about living an active lifestyle, eating healthy, maintaining an acceptable weight; when I see medical studies that show how dangerous it is to be overweight; when reports are released about how important it is to lose weight - all of that. When I see those things I don't say:
"Yeah, yeah I've heard it all before."
"Stop trying to make me feel guilty"
"Your science is flawed and I don't believe it"
Instead I say: bring it on. Because I know that the message sent is that being overweight is dangerous to anyone's health and a nation's economy. I understand it is not personally aimed at me. I realise any guilt I feel is due to my own failure to cope with societal expectation and my own beliefs. Yes, that's right, I create my own guilt. Scientists studying fat mice in a lab did not get together in order to make me personally regret my choices or non-choices in life.
I also understand that even though I "get" the message, I haven't acted on it to my fullest ability. And for everyone else out there like me, who knows the dangers, "gets it" and does nothing, there are twice as many who still don't hear or understand the message.
So why is breastfeeding different?
Why is it that formula companies are allowed to advertise formula, sell it's benefits, even try inspire guilt in parents who can't afford the premium DHA or added probiotics formulas, but breastfeeding advocates are not allowed to counteract this message? What is it about saying "breast is best" that can inspire hundreds of women to hate themselves?
Breast is best. There's nothing wrong with saying that.
Your situation may mean you couldn't breastfeed. It may mean it was difficult and you made the choice not to pursue it. You may have been "booby trapped." Maybe you just decided you didn't care. Maybe your mother telling you formula is fine was a stronger message than the public health nurse telling you breast is best.
Whatever. I don't care about the reasons behind it. If you feel guilty, it's about you, not the message.
And yeah, I totally acknowledge that some of that guilt comes from you internalising societal messages. But guess what? You're an adult. You can be media savvy. You can analyse a media message and ask yourself "does this apply to me? Is this true to me?" That's what media literacy is all about.
Meanwhile, there are entire communties in my home province where not a single woman chooses to breastfeed. There are millions of women around the world being misled by formula companies telling them that in their situation formula is best. There are children growing up with images of bottle-feeding shoved in their face everytime they go in public while women who breastfeed in public are told to cover-up.
So, yeah, I'm going to say it. And I'm going to say it loud. BREAST IS BEST.
Bring to that what you will. The message is true. The message is clear. There's no falsehood or doubletalk involved.