What is a “normal” size?

July 9, 2007

Thanks for the comments on my blog!  Today’s entry is a response to one of the comments, asking why do I think women in France are smaller.
I think the French women conform to a different social norm.  Being thin is very important to them. They are also raised to be very conscious of not eating between meals. All of this is changing, unfortunately — obesity is on the rise here, as in most of the world — but still dramatically lagging behind the US.  I’ve lived in both cultures and while I certainly wouldn’t say it’s easy to be overweight in America, it is even harder in France.

There is not the same “fat acceptance” as in the US, nor is there even the pragmatic business side of phenomena like “size inflation” — most of the main brand clothing lines & stores go up to about size 42 (a US size 8!). Women’s magazines write articles about how terrible it is to leave the size 30-somethings (basically anything bigger than a 4). It doesn’t mean there aren’t women bigger than that, of course there are, but the culture is not very accepting.

I have struggled a long time w my weight and was thrilled to arrive here a few years ago wearing a size 12. In the US I felt like I was in a normal-sized body. Here, that same body made me still feel obese. (And I think that feeling contributed to my 20 lb regain). I have heard a lot of comments from friends & acquaintances in the past few years that they think I drink Coke all day (I never drink sugar soda and rarely drink diet either). That I eat McDonald’s every day (haven’t had McD or other fast food in years and years) etc. I get comments when I have an apple at 6pm for ‘eating between meals’ — (we eat dinner around 9pm most days, so w lunch at 12:30 I am hungry late afternoon — and incapable of making healthy choices if I don’t snack before 9pm.)

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