Mar 4, 2012

The Carrie Conundrum: Fat Girl Slim

I had a conversation on Thursday that is plaguing me. I can't stop thinking about it. It's driving me MAD. 

I don't know why I can't let go of this, exactly. Maybe it's because I'm shocked. Or maybe it's because I feel naive. I don't know. Now, I'm making this sound more serious than it is, but still, it's quite hurtful to me... so let's just dive in to it.

I went out to dinner with three of my best girlfriends: all old coworkers, all grew up in SoCal. We got to talking about Carrie Underwood for some reason -- the patron Saint of my heart -- and talked about how beautiful she was, how great her legs were, and so on. OH. Now I remember: I was going to talk about how I've been handling the negative Youtube comments that come with my job. I've been told not to read them plenty of times, but given my goal in life is to get people to "know" me, I frequently have to read comments and respond, you know, to get a good rapport going. Anyway, the nasty comments don't sting me as bad anymore. I think of it this way: people have probably said things like that about me before -- behind my back -- but now it's easier  to see them because people can hide behind computers and tell me I look weird or that they need a new host without any consequences. Granted, for every negative comment, there are two positive ones, which is nice. But still. You tend to focus on things people find wrong with you because, let's face it, everyone wants to be amazing at what they do. At least I do.

So I was telling my girlfriends that I was listening to Carrie's new song, "Good Girl," on and one of the first comments on the page goes, "Oh there's Carrie Underwood with another song that sounds the same and those weird legs of hers." First off, people are penning this song as a Shania Twain-esque track -- one that doesn't a need a fiddle in it to be considered country music. And HELLO -- her legs are amazing. Weird legs? Who are you? Where do you come from? They're TO DIE FOR. I spend my life in the gym aspiring to get those legs!

We're all agreeing about her fab gams and I am about to mention how it made me feel better that even Carrie Underwood has negative people around her, so I don't take things too seriously, when one of my girlfriends says, "Yeah, I mean, and she used to be fat and now look at her."

She used to be fat.
She used to be fat?

I immediately interjected. "She was NOT fat. Are you serious?" 

They all kind of look at each other, nodding. "Yeah, she was big, Kirb!"

I know they weren't being mean. But never, in my life, in all of my Carrie fanhood, have I considered her fat, or big. I remember thinking she went from a normal size to losing a lot of weight, but attributed it to her being vegetarian (vegan now perhaps?) and becoming famous. If you have money, you can lose weight.

I pulled up photos from Carrie back in 2005, while she was on Idol. She was 22 and just about to graduate college. To me, seeing her in that pink top during first round auditions and watching her perform throughout the show -- she never once looked "big," "chubby," or "fat," -- all things she was referred to at dinner.

I'm not saying these girls were being malicious. They're my friends, and I know them and love them. What was shocking to me was how different their viewpoints were from mine. I grew up in Texas, and while Carrie wasn't super thin, she was a normal, southern/midwest sized girl. 

Carrie has admitted that she gained 20 pounds while filming Idol, but now I've done some research and it's speculated that today she's 110 pounds at 5'3. She's svelte. But being 5'3 and 130 pounds, that's about average. For someone 5'3, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, a normal weight would be between 104-140 pounds (which puts one at a Body Mass Index between 18.5-24.9) Not too heavy, not thin. She's actually on the lower end of the weight spectrum at her current weight, which is understandable since she's constantly on camera -- and trust, it does put some pounds on a person. 

I explained this (120-130 pounds) was a normal weight for the midwest and one of my girlfriends said, "Well, maybe that's overweight to the rest of the world's standards."

Listen people, I have news flash for you all: that is NOT overweight. It's not fat. It's not chubby. She might look bigger, but give it a rest. I'm sorry that I'm getting really butt-hurt over this, but it hurt my feelings. Maybe I'm in denial about my own weight, but let me say my piece:

I have seen plenty (plenty, plenty, plenty) of overweight, chubby people in my life and someone who looks the way she did in 2005 is a far cry from both of those terms. I know the south and midwest are known for down-home cooking and eating things that Paula Deen probably conjured up, and we get a bad rap when it comes to health. I get it. But Southern California, while it has tons of people focused on doing the best for their bodies and eating the most healthy, natural foods possible -- which has helped me focus on a better diet (massive sweet tooth ova here) -- also has a distorted view of fat and skinny. We constantly have to care about what we look like on camera and while we could look thin at one weight, are focused on looking thin for the camera. Everyone here is offensively beautiful, either due to good genes or great doctors (if they're truly great, you won't be able to tell the difference), and when you're trying to stand out in a sea full of pretty people, it's hard not to worry about if your hair is the right shade, if your nose looks good in your profile, and if your body is appealing enough. (Tip: be yourself. My cowboy booties, my pseudo-accent and my southern disposition all have helped me meet great people and make true friends out here.) Everyone looks fit and thin -- and they look good -- but does that make them normal? So many people here have aspirational bodies. Should that be the standard for the rest of the country?

Plus, what does it say about those who are a little heavier than Carrie at that stage in her life? How do you think that makes them feel? I'm sure she'd look a bit bigger at 138 pounds, but that's still a normal weight for her height. And what about those women are are actually overweight? Does that make them obese? Words slice us. We need to think about these types of things, and how it's affecting girls' confidence and vision of themselves.

Since moving to LA, I'll admit that I started caring a lot more about what I eat, when I eat it, and how often I hit the gym. It's a fact of life. This is what happens out here. But the mindset is SO different. I'd say that approximately 55% of my friends are vegetarian or vegan. When I grew up, we ate chicken or beef with every meal, pasta wasn't banned from the dinner table, we always had rolls, and my mother baked sweets to put out for when my friends came over. I lived off sweet tea at The Main in college. Yet we were not overweight children. We might have gone through puberty and gained some weight every now and then -- a normal part of growing up -- but never would the terms "chubby" or "overweight" have come to mind.

At least not to us.

I guess the reason I'm so irked by this is because when I moved out here, I was in good shape because I really focused on my fitness my senior year. But things got stressful and I lost the physique I had. Now, I feel like I could spare a few pounds, but I'm not dwelling on it. I will lose them with hard work. But I like to have fun. I like Moscow Mules. I like dessert. Sue me. However, I feel (currently) that I'm a few pounds shy of looking like Carrie Underwood on American Idol! Could she have lost a few pounds? Sure. Did she need to? No. (She did.) So hearing girls who are so close to my heart talk about her in that way, it kind of hurt my feelings. I know they weren't, but I couldn't help but wonder if at work the next day they'd be talking about how I looked or if I needed to lose weight. 

Granted, I told them all this, and they were quick to assure me I didn't look "big" or "chubby." But what if I did look like that? Would I be considered "fat," "chubby" and "overweight"? Sadly, I guess I would. And that's hurts my heart. I am somewhat pissed that I'm even writing about this because, as I re-read this, I'm getting annoyed that I'm talking about weight in the first place. This is a minor issue. This is nothing of substance (or at least not that much). I feel like I have good self confidence and rarely am I ever wondering if my friends are gossiping about my weight when I'm not around, but here I am. Good Lord.

I'm am only writing to this show how different viewpoints can be. I'm not criticizing anyone -- especially my friends, who I love dearly -- I just want to write about it because, well, it's been bothering me. What do you think? Is Carrie chubby? Or did we all think she was just because she's in her prime, thinnest shape ever now?

Also, if you want to lose weight, I have a few tips: give up carbs. Yes, it sounds like complete and utter insanity, but Katniss Everdeen could starve for days and survived (like my Hunger Games reference?) so I think, if you truly want to drop the L-Bs, you can give up carbs for two weeks. Also, quit coffee for at least three days. Stick to eating lots of green veggies and have eggs in the morning for breakfast and I promise you'll see a huge difference. Last year I was on a paleolithic diet. I lost two pant sizes and I felt amazing. My skin was clearer, and while it was super, super difficult the first three days, I felt like I was on cloud nine afterwards. My friend Terry is a Crossfit trainer and lives a strict paleo lifestyle and he can help answer any dietary needs you may have. So give it a try if you're really looking to turn over a new leaf in your life.

Annnnd that's a wrap.

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