- Welcome to the world, little Ginevra! I hope you and Mommy Helen are doing fine on your birth day! And happy birthday Dad!
- Some cool workspaces that definitely beat mine!
- Lifehacker details why the improved Google Reader could be better than Bloglines (I’m not jumping ship yet)
It started with a mojito.
Ok, it started with two mojitos.
Wait, first let me back up. I’ve been hearing a lot about how fellow expats, especially the Americans in comparison to Italian women, are fat. Nay, OBESE. I know the stereotypes and when I go home I’m reminded even more that we are just plain bigger, but it seems like every time I turn around someone is talking about the eating habits of the Americans. Unfortunately I do nothing to break the stereotype because I’m not a size-2 myself.
One of my girlfriends who was enviably underweight before getting pregnant got the what-all from her doctor for having gained too much weight during the pregnancy. But she looked great, or in technical terms, “glowing.” Another is being told to lose weight during the last months of her pregnancy. A few of my good friends have gained up to 50lbs being pregnant and lost it all in the first few weeks afterward. Everyone is different, and everyone gets a bit of a grace period after, anyway.
I imagined there must have been a memo of some sorts in the hospitals from the Ministry of Health in Italy:
To all OB/GYN Doctors:
Just to reconfirm, pregnant women gaining too much weight is bad. The ideal target is 8-10 kilos from their pre-pregnancy weight, provided they are not already overweight. If in fact they are already overweight, tell them to try and work down to this target weight during the nine months.
8-10 kilos is plenty since the baby itself is going to weigh 4-5 kilos, and then we’ll give them a few extra for the water weight and an extra-large gelato (they have those urges, you know). If expectant mothers go above these levels, it is URGENT that they are informed about the IMMEDIATE perils their bodies are in. Note: Especially mention their unborn children here. This usually makes the mother react with more caution, even fear, and will be more willing to listen to possible treatment options.
I’m sure with a little extra attention on each of your parts, we’ll duly address the issue and improve.
Continue to do what you do best!
The Ministry of Health
But back to the mojitos.
A week or two ago I was at a networking event and I was trying to meet people. Women, in fact. (Working ladies and all that) Strangely, I had to be really aggressive to actually meet anyone since they were grouped in fours and fives as they came in and looked like they had no intention of moving around and actually networking.
The Silicon Valley MBAer in me didn’t sit too well with that.
I actively made the rounds, wedging myself into unclaimed space in a standing circle, plopping down on an unused couch cushion. I met some nice people but I didn’t let myself get comfortable and kept moving around – this group usually charges for its events and I felt it best to get a feeling for some of the mini-groups to see if there was a reason to come back (and pay the high membership fee).
I started talking to a journalist who works for a male fitness magazine, and she was very simpatica, friendly. That’s when the mojitos took over my verbal skills.
“I used to take the shuttle to your company, and it was always filled with models,” I reminisced. Her English was pretty good, and she seemed to be understanding pretty well, or at least her eyes appeared to focus on my face. “Sometimes it would be male models, and that was a good day!”
“Yes, they were coming for our casting calls. I wanted to write for this magazine because I like fitness but I haven’t been doing much but editing.”
“You like fitness? I just found a gym and I’m so excited about it!” I must have told everyone about this already. She was someone new, so she couldn’t have known.
“Really? Do you run?” She was looking at me skeptically….wasn’t she? She couldn’t know how fast I was going on the treadmill that morning or that I had run a half marathon before.
Mojito: You could tell her. It would be so easy.
“Ya, I miss it because I used to do it a lot back home. Company softball league, high school sports…You know, we Americans play a lot of sports growing up.” Note to viewers at home: Italian high school sports are almost non-existent.
“Oh, do you run a lot?” She’s definitely looking at me like I’m full of it. The patriotism(?) inside of me is welling up. I can’t let another Italian walk around with the stereotype of Americans and our physical fitness.
Mojito: Alright, I’m stepping in. Prove it. You know you can.
“Yeah, actually, my legs are pretty strong.” She takes an obvious look at my legs. Of course you can’t tell anything from that, so
I tell her the mojito tells her, “Go ahead, feel.” She does, and thankfully the mojito doesn’t cause me to be called a liar, but I felt like that didn’t accomplish much and my fellow expats were not avenged.
One of the things that makes me mad is this NEW, IMPROVED, all-encompassing whizbang method for determining if someone is “normal” or “overweight” or “obese.” The BMI.
My BMI is wedged (too) comfortably in the “Overweight” category, but how can something be so accurate by only considering two factors….height and weight? To me, BMI is a bit like the pregnancy memo above. Take two factors (BMI: height, weight; weight gain guidelines: starting weight, being pregnant=yes) and apply a general rule to everyone.
I know that in Spain they just did a crackdown on models with BMIs of less than 18, and I thought this was an interesting gesture (it was really nothing more than that, let’s be honest), but at the same time I thought, how can they compare every woman from every part of the world with this simple calculation? This is discrimination that would not be tolerated in any other population subset, especially when applied to a job search. One of my colleagues is tiny. Tiny! But lord…she’s got a butt!!! Her body is storing fat somewhere.
So pulling my leg out (can I say that?) may have been a bit much, but that’s the circus freak in me. I have to admit I’ve done this before, and I’ll continue to do it. I’m tired of people judging me and others like me strictly on how much elevator space my body takes up, rather than what it’s composed of and what I can do with it.
Now, I’m not saying I don’t need to lose weight. I do. But I’d rather have what I have than a stick-thin figure and get winded on a flight of stairs. So I’m concentrating on being in shape first. And fighting stereotypes one mojito at a time.
Am I wrong? Who thinks BMI is useful? Should we only gain 8-10 kilos regardless of body type when pregnant? Can we discriminate against models based on a calculation?