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Why I am not all about that bass



I wanted to love this song. It’s right up my alley, actually. It has a catchy tune, Meghan Trainor has a gorgeous retro styling that I adore and on the surface it seems to have a strong body positive message.

Or does it?

Scratch below the surface and you will see that this song is about sexually objectifying larger body types and about women seeking validation about their body types from boys/men.

Yeah’ it’s pretty clear, I aint no size two
But I can shake it, shake it, like I’m supposed to do
‘Cause I got that boom boom that all the boys chase
And all the right junk in all the right places

This is sending a very clear message that even larger body types are only attractive if they can move in a particular way and have their ‘junk’ in all the ‘right’ places. As the body image movement grows and plus size models become increasingly popular, there is emerging a new bias. 




It's almost like society has taken a deep sigh of resignation and said "Oh, ok, go ahead and be fat if you have to, but we will only find you attractive if you look like this".

Is this really accepting diversity? I look at the woman above and look down at myself and compare my soft round belly to her flat stomach and small waist and still feel inadequate. I’ve had three children, three caesareans and I have lost and regained over 120kg in my lifetime. As a result my skin is stretched and wrinkled and no amount of cross fit, herbal wraps or dieting is going to change that.

Back to Meghan's song...

Yeah my mama she told me, ‘don’t worry about your size’

This is a great message for women to tell their daughters, for all parents to tell their children, actually.

She says, “Boys like a little more booty to hold at night”

Disregard the gender and hetero bias for now, is this the message we want to tell our daughters? Don’t worry about your size because men prefer a fleshier body in bed? AKA it’s ok to be fat because it provides a little cushion for the pushin’?

As a parent, the message I want to tell my children is, don’t worry about your size because:

  • You are not a sex toy put on this earth for the entertainment of others
  • Your mind is far more interesting than your body
  • Your kindness and compassion will shine like a beacon
  • Your strength and courage will inspire others
  • Your creativity and passion will enrich the world




Fat is not a synonym for ugly

I’m fat. Let’s not waste energy debating the use of the ‘F’ word. Fats are long chain molecules consisting of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen; in most plants and animals they represent an efficient way of storing energy. When we consume more energy than our body immediately requires it is stored in our adipose tissue as fat. According to the World Health Organization BMI classification, I have an above average amount of energy stored in my adipose tissue.



The message that society thrusts onto overweight individuals is that if you can’t lose weight you aren’t enough. You aren’t strong enough, you aren’t disciplined enough, you aren’t active enough, you don’t care enough, you aren’t smart enough, you don’t want it badly enough. You. Are. Not. Enough.

Studying to be a dietitian isn’t easy, it is a highly competitive degree and at my age there are limited pathways available. For two years, day after day, I had the strength to keep showing up, I had the discipline to study, I had the smarts to achieve a GPA of 7.0; there could be no doubting that I wanted it badly enough. Throughout all of this I ran an average of 15-20km per week and I became involved in a host of extracurricular activities; by anyone’s standards I am certainly active enough. On top of all this I am a wife, a mother, an artist, a cook and a dog lover. By any standard you could possibly imagine I am enough.

Except I'm fat. Every achievement I just listed suddenly became diminished by society because I have stores of body fat. I’m not buying into that nonsense any more.

I have spent enough of my life hating my body and by extension hating myself. It’s time to move in a different direction.

I borrow from the beautiful Ms Bustle: 

I am enrolled in university so I call myself a student, I weigh 80kg so I call myself fat, and I am beautiful so I call myself beautiful. I am all of these things at once.



Vitamin A

Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin, this means that if we consume excess quantities it can be stored in parts of our body that also store fat. This is different to water soluble vitamins which we cannot store, excess quantities are excreted in our urine.

In most animals (including humans) the majority Vitamin A is stored in the liver. When other tissues and organs require Vitamin A it is transported from the liver to the target by a carrier protein, upon delivery it can be used immediately or tucked away for short term storage inside the cell.

Our bodies are not able to make Vitamin A, it is something we must consume in our diet. If you have ever heard the term ‘essential vitamin’ it means that not only is it required for our bodies to function, it is essential that we consume adequate amounts in our diet, because we are unable to make it ourselves.

In our diet, Vitamin A is present in two forms:
  • Carotenoids (these precursors to retinol and therefore often referred to as Provitamin A), found in fruits and vegetables.
  • Retinol, found in animal products.

If you think about it this, it makes sense. When animals eat carotenoids they convert it to Vitamin A in their intestines and it is stored in their tissues. When we eat the animal we are consuming their stores of Vitamin A.

Orange and yellow fruits and vegetables are good sources of β-carotene, also called provitamin A. Each molecule of β-carotene that we eat is cleaved by enzymes in our small intestine to produce two molecules of retinol. [2]

Our bodies will only convert as much β-carotene into Vitamin A as it needs to, so yellow/orange vegetables are safe to consume in abundance. [3] There is no upper limit for the amount of β-carotene you should consume through food as it cannot lead to Vitamin A toxicity, however if you find yourself drinking excessive amounts of carrot juice each day, you may find your skin adopts a yellowish hue! [1]

Common Food Sources of Retinol [4]
Food sources of β-carotene/100g
β-carotene (µg)
Vitamin A (RE)
(µg)
Liver, beef, raw
1660
13,877
Liver, chicken, raw
45
12,007
Cheese, cheddar
87
172
Whole eggs, white and yolk
2
157
Cows milk, whole
19
53

Common Food Sources of β-carotene [4]
Food sources of β-carotene/100g
β-carotene (µg)
Vitamin A (RE)
(µg)
Carrots, raw
7896
1316
Sweet potato, raw
6775
1129
Spinach, raw
2018
336
Capsicum, red
1292
215
Pumpkin, raw
757
126


How much Vitamin A do we need?

Vitamin A is important for our vision, bone growth, reproduction and the development of the embryo during early pregnancy. The recommend daily intake for pregnant women is only slightly higher than for non-pregnant women, in fact care must be taken not to consume too much Vitamin A as it can cause birth defects. For this reason medications that contain high amounts of retinol, such as acne creams, are not recommended for use immediately prior to or during pregnancy.

Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI) of Vitamin A as Retinol Equivalents [1]
Age
(years)
Boys
(µg/day)
Girls
(µg/day)
Men
(µg/day)
Women
(µg/day)
Pregnancy
(µg/day)
Lactation
(µg/day)
1-3
300
300




4-8
400
400




9-13
600
600




14-18
900
700


700
1,100
19-30


900
700
800
1,100
31-50


900
700
800
1,100
51-70


900
700


>70


900
700





Do carrots really help us see in the dark? The carotenoids in carrots are converted to retinol which is used by the light receptors in our eyes to transmit signals to the brain. Without retinol the signal cannot be sent and thus one of the tell tale signs of Vitamin A deficiency is night blindness! So mega-dosing on carrots won’t turn you into a ninja by improving your night vision but orange/red fruits and vegetables are essential for maintaining healthy vision.

[1] https://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/vitamin-a
[2] Biesalski HK, Chichili GR, Frank J, von Lintig J & Nohr D 2007, ‘Conversion of β-carotene to Retinal Pigment’, Vitamins & Hormones, Vol. 75, pp 117-130.

[5] http://www.intechopen.com/books/oxidative-stress-and-chronic-degenerative-diseases-a-role-for-antioxidants/the-exogenous-antioxidants