A recent report from France’s National Institute of Demographic Studies, as reported in The Guardian, reveals French women may pay a high price for having the lowest average body mass index (BMI) among women in western Europe.
They worry more about their weight than their western European counterparts. Plus, their “ideal” weight is lower, and they value being underweight more.
Indeed, more women in France qualify as underweight, and only half of them recognize that. This while they tend to consider themselves fatter than they are.
Surely influenced by the fashion industry, the Frenchwoman drive for thinness is also aggravated by “pharmacy windows…crammed with miracle slimming formulas to kick-start the pre-summer dieting season and women’s magazines…full of bikini weight-loss plans.”
Not to say the rest of western Europe is balanced about body image. Almost half of people there say they’re unhappy with their weight, and more women than men consider themselves overweight, a worry that stays with them throughout their lives.
Sounds disturbingly familiar to those of us in the U.S. And it begs the question: How do we marry this information with the theory that French women don’t need to worry about getting unhealthily fat because of their wonderful style of eating that’s all about eating what we want — without guilt, in a way that supports well-being?
Unfortunately, it’s another example of the impact of unrealistic images of women’s bodies.
I have nothing more to say about that.
But I will say that the French style of eating — and of any culture that values quality in food and the environment in which we eat it — still serves as a useful model of how we can eat what we want and achieve health and healthy weight goals, provided we focus on well-being as our goal rather than the way we look in clothes or a number on a scale.
Eating what we want in a way that supports our health and well-being is a concept that eludes many of us. We share many ways to go about it on our website. Do you have any tips that work for you?