Friday, March 16, 2012

Happiness Is More Than Just A New Dress Size

Last week, I was talking with a friend about music and Jennifer Hudson’s name came up in the conversation. I instantly made a face and didn't say anything. To which, my friend said jokingly, “You’re just mad because she’s not a big girl anymore so she is no longer part of the club.” This led to a conversation about celebrities losing weight. While I applaud JHud for her weight loss, I have lost lots of respect for her, simply because now that she is no longer part of the plus size club, it feels like she is now denouncing it after being someone in the spotlight (no pun intended) who always spoke of being yourself and loving yourself no matter what.

I remember her on American Idol. She was my favorite. She was confident and made no apologies about her size. She radiated beauty and I admired her so. When Dreamgirls came out, I ran to the theater to see it the day the movie came out. When she won her Oscar for the role of Effie in that movie, I stood in my living room, clapping with tears streaming down my face. Ironically, the original actress who played Effie on Broadway, another Jennifer...Jennifer Holliday, was also a big girl who lost a huge amount of weight as well. But I digress...I was truly a fan of JHud's because she represented the real, everyday woman. Someone who I can see myself in. Someone who had not gone all "Hollywood" and kept it real.

Then she becomes the spokesperson for Weight Watchers. Next thing I know, I'm seeing her singing along her former larger self in commercials and telling any media outlet that will listen, how she is so happy now that she has lost weight. She even said to Oprah how she has a better sense of self now that she is thinner. Huh? To me, she wasn't the real, everyday woman anymore. She began to become more "Hollywood", more concerned about her image and conforming to what Hollywood sets as standards. She has said publicly a few times how she didn't know she was plus size until she came to Hollywood. Prior to that, she thought she was normal. Wow...

I still have love for JHud and think that if she is truly happy now, then kudos to her. However, does this mean she wasn't happy before? What happened to the girl who spoke of being you and loving you as you are? The message she is now sending confuses me. So I am not mad that she lost weight. I am mad at the example she is setting now. She is basically saying that if you lose weight, you will be happy. And that's not completely true. I know plenty of people above a size 10 who are happy. I think happiness is a state of mind that is not dictated by size. It is dictated by attitude. Attitude towards oneself and how you feel about yourself. You can lose weight but you can never lose who you are within. If you're not happy at a size 16, you might feel better at a size 6 but you won't be fully happy until you are happy from within. You have to love yourself first before you can truly make any kind of long lasting changes in your life, including weight loss.

JHud had a wonderful opportunity to promote healthy eating and loving yourself as you are, which she did not do. Not everyone is meant to be a size 0. We all have different types of bodies and carry our weight in different places. This is why when people lose weight, they lose it in different places. No weight loss story is the same. Hollywood is Hollywood. But it is not everyday life.

So when I see Kirstie Alley or Carrie Fisher on TV looking miserable and thinking their life is over just because they have gained weight, it irks me A LOT. But then I hear a story like the one of Glee's Amber Riley and I have hope for the next generation of stars coming up. She recently started eating healthier because of stomach issues and has dropped two dress sizes. She's not concerned about getting to a certain weight. She's happy with herself. Her focus is being healthy.

We all need to stop focusing on the Hollywood ideal because it is so unrealistic and honestly, unhealthy. What's healthy about fad diets, barely eating and being obsessed with the scale? That's the whole reason why yo-yo dieting happens. Look at Adele! She embraces who she is. She owns her curves and body. And from where I'm sitting, she looks happy. And in Hollywood, that's a rarity and very refreshing.

Oh, JHud, how I miss your former curly top, curvy self! I miss your sassy personality and confidence. The new person you have become...I just don't see the old you there at all. It's as if you lost some of you when you lost that 80 pounds. I wish you knew how needed you are right now. Your strong spirit and attitude are sorely missed.

However, thank you JHud for the lesson you have given us. The lesson is...we cannot rely on Hollywood to determine what the ideal body/weight should be. We have to do what makes each of us happy. YOU are the one who decides what's right for you. Not JHud in her Weight Watchers commercials, not Mariah Carey singing about how great Jenny Craig is or even Janet Jackson preaching about Nutrasystem in their latest commercial. Those celebrities are selling a brand and want to be thin because of their careers. They want to meet the Hollywood standard. But that is not meant for the everyday woman.

Us, the everyday woman, we need to be realistic and take proper care of ourselves. We have to make sure we are happy whether we are a part of the Big Girl club or not. Like I always say, there's only 1 you in the world so why not live life as best as you can each day? Life is short and unexpected. We all can stand to make some improvements. But we all can't be JHud.

Is it wrong for me to secretly hold out hope that she will one day become the spokesperson for eating healthy, loving yourself at any size and staying true to who you are? Hey, a girl can dream, can't she? For now, I will have to settle for some old episodes of American Idol and my Dreamgirls DVD. That's the JHud I want to remember. The strong, empowered, sassy, confident at her size, JHud.

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