General chatter - Geographic location and societal pressures

07-27-2010, 05:55 PM
I don't want to start a total debate, but I've been thinking about my reasoning for wanting to lose 5 more lbs and wanting to make sure that I'm doing if for me and not because I can't see my new body or because I'm trying to hard to be perfect or because I'm weight loss obsessed and I started thinking about our geographic locations and the pressures of society. Do you think where you live in the country dictacts what your goal weight is or how you think you should look once you've lost all your weight? I live in Southern California right in the middle of LA and San Diego, so I just wonder what kind of impact that has on me...thoughts?

07-27-2010, 06:00 PM
I live in Ohio and consider us all to be pretty average. I am now on the average end of most weights around here. So I'm feeling pretty good. But I never aspired to be the thinnest, most attractive woman around. I just never wanted to be the fattest. I was very uncomfortable being the heaviest woman in an already overweight society.

07-27-2010, 06:11 PM
I'm in Tennessee. I live in East Tenn now, but was born and raised for the most part in West Tenn...which is very rural and kind of backwoods. Imagine Andy Griffith. :p

MY opinion is that people in little Southern towns tend to be a little bit heavier than the norm. Women are thick and are big and broad. And they also seem to be more accepting of different body types...I've never felt pressure to look a certain way or be a certain weight. It's got to have something to do with the is such a big part of the traditional southern lifestyle...we really do celebrate with it, grieve with it, compete with it...everything. And it's all so GOOD. It's terribly rude to go to someone's house and refuse food around these parts.

This is a good and a bad thing. Good because the body image issues that I DO have are ones that I've created myself...I was not raised around supermodel thin people, I was encouraged to eat when I was hungry and to be proud of my curves. Bad because it's too easy to let myself slip when I've got people in my face telling me I'm already too thin and, don't I want another hunk of pot roast???

Just my opinion based on what I've experienced where I live. Good thread idea, I've wondered about this myself!

07-27-2010, 06:21 PM
That is a valid concern Ncuneo. I am in a small city in Ontario Canada and we really have people of all shapes and sizes. I am noticing lately that being chubby, if not obese, is getting to be the norm though. Its sad really. I used to feel like I fit in because a lot of people were heavy. Now I find myself noticing heavy people everywhere. I can understand why being thin in a community of thin and "body obsessed" women could be really discouraging.

Losing It 2010
07-27-2010, 06:33 PM
I am in Tennessee and one of my many motivating factors is the constant barrage in our media on how lazy and fat Tennesseans are. It seems like on a weekly basis there is some negative poll or statistic thrown in our faces about how un-healthy we are. Then I look around at my office mates and it sickens me, I am sorry but they don't care about anything except how fast they can get to the soda machine for the Dew or when lunch time is. I have decided not to be a part of the statistic and maybe if people see me eating better and exercising it will get them off their butts...

So to answer your question yes and no, No I don't want to be a part of society here in TN and yes where I live motivates me

07-27-2010, 06:34 PM
NCUNEO you must live very close to me!

From what I have seen in my travels it seems to me that there are more people in better shape where the weather is better...

But there are healthy weight people and over weight folks where ever I go.

I have been noticing your posts and all I can say is'll be fine! You know what to have done it...

be careful not to over-do things!

07-27-2010, 06:46 PM
I live in Columbus, Ohio and like Eliana said,
we're all pretty average. However, I'm transferring to
Paris, France in a couple years where everyone is very
tiny. And I've been talking to my fiancÚ about possibly
moving to Sicily, Italy in the future (my family is Sicilian).
Which is weird considering I speak french even though I'm Italian.

I'm just a big cultural mess! :lol:

07-27-2010, 07:03 PM
I will say whenever I enter a 5K and see so many runners in great shape it is pretty motivating!

07-27-2010, 07:18 PM
I live on the west coast and most people here are smaller, more fit, exercise is king around here.

On another note I teach in a high school and have noticed that while children are in school they stay smaller. Once they leave us and go out into the big world (uni, college, work) they tend to get bigger. Interesting.

07-27-2010, 08:58 PM
I think there is definitely a difference by region. You always hear those lists of "America's Fattest Cities," etc. I read a thread on another part of 3FC where someone in Houston, who IIRC was over 300 pounds, said that she did not stand out at all there (Houston regularly makes the Fattest City list). Where I live, in a suburb of Washington DC, someone over 300 pounds would definitely stand out. I felt like I stood out at my starting weight but that was probably paranoia. :(

There are also racial and socio-economic factors. I found this information ( from the Office of the Surgeon General. I think it describes pretty accurately what I see around here.

07-27-2010, 09:14 PM
I think regional norms do contribute to our perceptions of our self, but I don't think they dictate or determine them. I was much more the "freak" in my younger years at the same weight as I am now (even at lower weights).

I have a lot more "company" now as the nation gets fatter. I'm becoming "more normal" and ironically, I'm having more success losing weight now, than I did when I was a freak.

Yeah, how we compare to others does effect our goals, but it doesn't determine them. We have choices and a say in the matter.

Thighs Be Gone
07-27-2010, 09:30 PM
I think geographically there are some differences--socioeconomic and culturally as well.

07-27-2010, 09:53 PM
I think geography makes a difference. I'm starting to go the opposite direction of you. I may increase my goal from 150 to 170 because folks around here just aren't that skinny. In my new clothes, I'm looking pretty good already for a woman my age!

Latchkey Princess
07-28-2010, 01:43 AM
Up here in parts of the Midwest there's an emphasis on being thin. Not necessarily fit, but thin and pretty (at least in Illinois where I live). I've noticed tho, I used to live in a richer suburb of Chicago, and there were many more thin people there, even normal weight people were in the minority. There were at least 4 gyms in the neighborhood, and the surrounding towns had at least 3-4 gyms a piece as well. You would always see someone out running or biking or walking the park trails. Now that we've moved further away from the big city, to a much less affluent neighborhood there are more people who look like me (ie overweight and obese). There is 1 gym (a Curves) and a YMCA in town and the next nearest town is 20 miles and has no gym. The only people I ever see walking and riding their bikes is the young kids and the old people, and then it's obviously not for exercise but for a way to get around. Interesting really, when you sit and think about it... I think every region has their own issues with body image and weight, whether it's an obsession with fit and thin or a lack of concern for body image...

07-28-2010, 03:41 PM
Interesting topic! I know I felt much more out of place when I moved to Uptown Minneapolis, MN last year. This area is considered to be the hip and trendy area of Minneapolis and is filled with many young and fit people. I noticed that most of the people I meet here are vegetarians/vegans and there are many natural food stores in this area that reflect that lifestyle here.

I was already uncomfortable with my weight when I lived out in the Burbs, but this recent move has given me a bit of an extra push into a healthier way of living.

07-28-2010, 08:18 PM

But I insist on not using broadly geographic terms -- I think in smaller terms, and here I have to use the word "community."

By that I mean where you live & the circle of people you move in, and what standards that community holds & what other communities influence it.

I live near NY City, but I grew up in Upstate NY, a five-hour-drive northwest of here, and have just come back from a week-long visit there. (Literally. My suitcase still needs to be unpacked & there's that damn laundry problem ... )The cultural differences in my current community and my former community are very fresh in my mind.

In the two communities, of course weight is different, because eating is different, exercising is different, standards of personal maintenance for women are different.

When I'm Upstate, attending clam bakes, chicken barbeques, at the movie theater, or even walking in the mall near my community, I'm one of the slenderest women in my general age group. Anyone thinner is liable to be at least 10 years younger.

When I'm back "home," near NY, I'm just average, shading to the slightly heavier side, and there are many women my age & older who are much thinner than me in my community. (It's all that tennis. [Kidding. Slightly.] And the idea of the "yummy mummy" being pretty current here.)

My old hometown Upstate was gym-less for years. Then there was a "box" gym that had an adjacent tattoo parlor. During my first weight loss, in the early 1990s, I took one look at this place through the window & then backed out quickly. Not a woman in sight. (I later learned through a male friend that the place had only one female member at that time.) I think they would have sneered if I'd asked about step aerobics classes, which were my main interest at the time. I had to make a half-hour drive -- often in the incredible snowfalls of Upstate NY -- to get to a more woman-friendly gym.

While I was away, making my fortune downstate ;-), that changed, and a Curves came to town, and then a large gym frequented by all ages & genders opened up about seven years ago. It's been having some financial difficulty. (I use it daily when I'm visiting, with day passes.) Even now, I tend to be the only woman in the free-weight area, though many other women of different ages use the machines.

Where I live now, downstate, my gym is two blocks away (and there's a personal trainer's storefront one block away) & there are four others I could drive to in about 10 minutes. There is a very large yoga studio offering multiple classes daily in the next town over. There is a runner's store four blocks away. And that's just the beginning of it ... I can't even list the resources for yoga, Pilates, kickboxing, whatever within a 10-mile radius of my village.

And oh yes, the eating thing. How do I put it nicely? It is harder to make healthy choices upstate when dining out. I spent the day with an old college friend who'd flown in from the West Coast for her class reunion & a family memorial service. First thing she said, after we hugged & agreed we wanted to have lunch, was: "Please tell me you know of a place where we can get a salad for lunch ... and where they **won't** serve us iceberg lettuce." (She had been suffering from an overdose of plain country cooking.)

In fact, I did know of just such a place. But we had to make a 45-minute drive north from her small farming town, to a quaint lakeside village place that lives mostly off tourist dollars -- just to get the kind of lunch that, at home, downstate, I could find in **six different** little casual places within three blocks of my front door.

So these are the cultural shoals that I have to negotiate every time I go back to where I grew up.

My parents wanted me to be more educated & to have more opportunities than they did, but I'm not sure that they understood that the price of this was some degree of alienation from where I came from -- if not outright alienation, at least self-consciousness, at not quite fitting in anymore, and frustration, on occasion, regarding the lack of choice of lettuce & wanting the fish NOT to be breaded & fried & melodramatic relief at finding that yes, the local grocery DID CARRY Fage 0%.

But I swear this is definitely community-based, not completely geographic. By this, I mean, a low-income woman in Syracuse is more analogous to a low-income woman in the Bronx; and a wealthy woman in Skaneateles (a relatively affluent village in Upstate NY) is more analogous to a wealthy woman in Scarsdale.

07-31-2010, 08:54 PM
I think there is definitely a difference by region. There are also racial and socio-economic factors. I found this information ( from the Office of the Surgeon General. I think it describes pretty accurately what I see around here.

yes, I think so too. In my neighborhood here in Brooklyn, I can walk out the door of my apartment building and find three gyms less than a block away. There are 2 Y facilities if I walk a few blocks further. There's a huge park where people bike, run, skate, rollerblade, play baseball, soccer, frisbee, etc.; a smaller park with basketball, handball and soccer courts. It's made up of many youngish, middle class couples (there's also a blue collar and ethnic element here, largely hispanic) and being thin and fit is pretty much the norm. or at least thinner people working on being more fit, ha. At 300 lbs, I definitely stood out. At my size now, I am still bigger than a lot of women I see.

that said, I feel more accepted and comfortable here with the size of my body than I did in northern california where I grew up.

08-01-2010, 09:06 AM
Moving from Pittsburgh PA to Southern California was a huge shock for me. I would see people outside here, running, carrying bottles of water... People in the grocery store checking labels, people clearly walking around after having just gone to the gym... In Pittsburgh it was "do you work out?" Here it is "Which gym do you go to?" - because people ALWAYS have SOMEWHERE that they are working on their fitness.

When I go back to visit Pittsburgh, I feel more put together than most of the people I run into after having been gone for so long and adopting new habits - but when I am out in Southern California - I'm still not where I everyone else is and end up feeling frumpy all the time.

08-05-2010, 02:00 PM
Here in Utah, people seem to either be proportional, or VERY overweight. I went to the casting call for Biggest Loser last weekend, and at 260 was one of the smallest people there. Not much middle ground, as far as I've seen.

LOTS of breast augmentations here, too, which is kind of weird. Also, I'm a freak here because I'm in my late 30s and have no kids.