Links: Healthy Enough, Attractiveness, Photoshop

This quote comes from a personal finance blog, but it ties into the “enough” conversation a bit:

If one defines the word rich in non-monetary terms, the seemingly herculean feat of “getting rich” may be one of the easiest (and most valuable) accomplishments of one’s life.  What if “rich” is simply defined as “being content?”  […]

It is quite true that without sufficient financial health to provide the basics of life — food, shelter and clothing — one’s non-monetary measures of health (physical, emotional & spiritual) can be eroded.  If you have enough, however, to provide these basics of livelihood, then the pursuit of financial wealth need only be a support for pursuits that truly bring meaning and purpose to your life.
— from the Financial Philosopher

This comment on “financial health” got me thinking of how we define physical health.  So often it’s about physical perfection.  Does it help to think of physical health as  “a support for pursuits that truly bring meaning and purpose to your life”?

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Marianne Kirby (co-author of Lessons from the Fat-o-Sphere) hasn’t been posting much but this bit on getting checked out at the mall was worth the wait:

Here’s the thing: It’s nice to be appreciated. […] A lot of fat women I know talk about how much they just flat out didn’t see when they were trapped in the spiral of self-hate that so often comes with being a young fat woman in America […]  But we as fatties are trained to buy into this idea just as much, if not more than, the rest of our culture. It’s one of the most efficient means of policing ourselves.

So, a bit of external validation can help with that. I know that – I really do get it, because it helped me. The flip side of this, however, still exists.

Living in pursuit of that external validation is a sucker’s game. […] This is why I don’t have a lot invested in external physical validation […] There are a couple of people who get to have an opinion that matters (like my husband) and everyone else, well, it’s nice if they think I’m attractive but if they don’t, eh, wev.

I don’t find every single person on the planet attractive; why should I worry about whether or not every single person on the planet finds me attractive in return?
— from The Rotund

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Oh, and that PETA billboard?  Someone ‘shopped it into a HAES billboard.  :)

5 thoughts on “Links: Healthy Enough, Attractiveness, Photoshop

  1. I really like this idea of “healthy enough.” I think it gets to the whole idea of what the purpose of health is. It seems like there is this idea floating around that the whole purpose of health is to live as long as possible and/or cost as little as possible, and I think both of those are pretty flawed ideas. I can’t believe that somehow a long life, in and of itself, is a particularly commendable or even desirable goal.

    If I lived to be 100, never had an illness, and died peacefully in my sleep, but was a miserable, selfish, and unpleasant person who never did a single thing to enjoy my life or make this world a nicer place for anybody, was my wonderful health really of use to myself or anybody else? But, if I only lived to be 60, and had health problems that required care all throughout my life, but with the time and energy I had I enjoyed life and loved and cared for others, wouldn’t I have been putting my limited health to much better use than I put my better health in the first scenario?

    I think it’s both an issue of doing what we can to be healthy enough to do what we need to do (for me, I don’t need, in order to enjoy my life and fulfill my responsibilities and love others, to be able to run a marathon or lift 100 pounds over my head) to live life fully, and of using the health we do have as best we can. I’m fortunate enough to have very good health, but I know people with chronic health problems who use their time and energy much more wisely than I do, and they are making more of their poor health, most of the time, than I make of my good health.

    I’m not sure where I’m going with this, other than to say that I think the idea of health for its own sake–absent the ideas of enjoying life and loving others and making the world a better place–is a pretty empty idea, and not one I find very appealing.

    • I also wanted to add, I think this dovetails very nicely with the whole idea of “exercising enough.” It’s so easy for me to start to view fitness as an end in itself. I feel good about myself because I walked 5 miles in an hour, because it makes me feel that I’m fit. But, really, who cares? I’m not a professional walker. I’m not walking door to door promoting some wonderful cause, and my being able to walk farther faster will increase the good I can do. I don’t think, on the one hand, there’s anything wrong with some pride in relatively meaningless accomplishments, but I think it’s important to remember that they really aren’t that meaningful.

      It’s harder for me to focus on the reasons why I’m exercising in the first place: not so that I can be good at exercising, but so that I can have the energy and emotional stability to get through my day as productively as possible. It’s not an end in itself, but a means to an end.

      And I think health is the same thing. To see it as an end in itself almost, to me, seems to be missing the whole purpose of life. Health should be a means to an end, the end of living a good life. If we start to see health itself as the goal–rather than a good life being the goal, and health being something that can help us achieve that–then I think we do end up with the kind of rhetoric we’re seeing around health care, where it all comes down to costs and bottom lines, instead of the focus being on people.

      BTW, I also love your blog, and your recent posts have been so thought-provoking. I hate to play favorites, but you’re my favorite FA blogger out there right now, and I’m always pleased to see a new post.

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