Living in America – Part Two: A Culture of Confusion

I have been here five days and I am already keenly aware that I am fat. For every second that I am awake, I am reminded of everything that is wrong with my body. In Prague I knew I was overweight. The difference is, at home I never felt BAD about it. On T.V. I saw a commercial for a device that you strap to your waist as you work out to “increase calorie burn”. I saw Sarah Jessica Parker selling a moisturiser that will make you look “up to five years younger”. I saw one of my idols (the adorable Ms. Dolly Parton) on Oprah talking about liposuction, botox and being true to yourself. She and Kenny Rogers looked like wax figurines of themselves. I was fascinated by Dolly’s mouth and the fact that it didn’t seem to move.

I find it hard to believe that anyone can really buy all of this fantastic bullshit that America is selling. The ONLY thing that burns calories is exercise. Period. A cream will not make you look like SJP and it won’t make you look five years younger. (And how did they come up with that number anyway?) You want to look younger? Don’t drink, don’t smoke, drink lot’s of water and stay out of the sun. A thinking person with half a brain knows these things. And seeing a 64 year old woman as beautiful as Dolly so obsessed with youth and beauty and being thin just breaks my heart.

So when i stepped on a scale for the first time in two years I was shocked. Then, that shock turned to shame and disappointment. Being here has left me feeling confused and fat. These are two feelings that I don’t get much back at home in Prague On the one hand, America is being sold a very thin image of youth and beauty. There are SO many products, books, DVDs, websites available to help you achieve this. But at the same time Americans are be sold a totally unhealthy lifestyle that makes the first dream all but impossible. How can I be “Bikini Ready in 4 Weeks” if I go to the Olive Garden and partake of their cheese laden, endless bread stick having land of fatty foods? How can I lose weight when all of the food I am told to eat is processed and covered in cheese? Basically Americans are told, “Go ahead – eat that stuffed crust pizza and have that beer. Then, hunker down and watch some MUST SEE TV. Then just take this pill and you can look like a skinny 24 year old.”

I am truly  shocked at Americas need for consumerism and capitalism. This has led Americans to become fat sheep, and in just 5 days here I felt the pressure. My cute little figure that I was gently working on back home suddenly feels in desperate need of remodeling. I knew I needed to drop a few pounds, but I didn’t feel BAD about it. Between the magazines, the T.V. and the high fat/high calorie foods – I am at a loss. I feel sad and guilty. The guilt follows me everywhere. It screamed at me at the 4th of July BBQ when I picked up the Texas Sheet Cake and ice cream. It laughed at me in the dressing room when I tried on a number of bikinis. The guilt whispered in my ear how ashamed it was of me when I ate the most fabulous Enchiladas Mole.

So, as my best friend told me – I have two choices. I can either be happy about the way I look or I can do something about it. So, I am going to do something about it. I am just glad that I get to do something about it back in Prague where the pressure to be thin and beautiful isn’t constantly in m y face. I can do it by eating healthy foods and getting off of my ample ass and exercising. Which I will. And honestly, I don’t know that I could do that in this country. The mixed messages, high fat foods and sedentary lifestyle might just get the better of me.


2 thoughts on “Living in America – Part Two: A Culture of Confusion

  1. hi! i came across your blog the other day while researching the possibility of teaching english overseas with my husband (he's already a teacher here in the states, and i'm working as a copywriter). now i'm slowly making my way through your archives (i promise i'm not creepy! or, at least, not excessively creepy!) so i just wanted to de-lurk and tell you that i've truly enjoyed your missives from prague, but especially these from being back in the states. i identify so much with your perspective on body image oppression here. being happy with what i look like is something i've struggled with but am always working towards, and hope i get much closer as i gain more life perspective. but it's just so difficult while being bombarded on every side!anyway-here's some encouragement to keep writing your life. a total stranger is enjoying it! :)–jessi

  2. Hey! Nice to meet you 😉 Always happy to have new readers. My "TEFL" experience will be all the way back in 2006 – October. I was pretty honest about it. It was amazing, and intense and awesome. I highly recommend it. I went to TEFL Worldwide – and they are like family to me now. Good luck! And thanks for reading!

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