Let me just weigh in...

December 01, 2010

Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones, 
looking mighty good, in my opinion

Feeling nostalgic, I excitedly settled in last night to watch Bridget Jones Diary (auf deutsch, to which they apparently needed to add "Schokolade zum Frühstück" to the original title - ?) and was immediately struck by how different it seemed. No, it wasn't the German coming out of their mouths, poorly in-tune with the English words their mouths were forming. At first I thought it was the long angle from which I was watching the TV. After moving to a spot directly in front, the thought finally came to light: I thought Renee Zellweger gained a bunch of weight for this movie?

After spending the evening pondering what the big deal was with Bridget Jones' weight, I awoke to this article via Huffington Post about an NYT critic saying a "Nutcracker" ballerina "looked as if she'd eaten one sugar plum too many," and it hit me - I've been on American media withdrawal. What now looked normal - or even thin - to me was cause in America for abundant media slams and Zellweger's subsequent back-pedaling into anorexic territory.

It's no surprise that Europe is not obsessed with weight the same way America is, but the fact that I've gotten so conditioned with the European way of looking at body image - or rather, not obsessing about it - is just another small step to acclimating. But even more than just acclimating, it's yet another item I add to the list of reasons why I never want to leave.

I'll admit, I have a long way to go with German before I start understanding the nuances of popular culture and the media here, but the pervasive skinniness that seems to have infiltrated every aspect of American media appears satisfyingly absent. I was reminded of a great post from fellow blogger Rage Against the Minivan (thanks for introducing me, Kelly Clarkson) I'd read not long ago, which addresses some of the issues in American media on both ends of the weight spectrum.

I remember one of the first things people from back in California asked after we moved, knowing Europeans apparent predisposition at thinness, was if we had lost weight (we had). Looking back, it bothers me that this was one of the first things that Americans consider, when it's often not a consideration at all for Europeans and certainly wasn't something we were striving for.

Apparently stuck in my own Americanness, I started to worry in late summer when I noticed all the wine festivals, newly-discovered German treats and favorite Thai take-away starting to catch up to my no-longer-skinny waistline. My first thought was: I'd better do something about this, pretty much immediately followed by: but why? I hadn't even gone up a pants size, but most importantly, I was having the time of my life - wine festivals, outings around Germany with amazing new friends, travels with my husband around Spain. Why would I want to limit any of this?

And so it is with this realization about weight and happiness in Europe, I look towards our next year in Germany. Serendipitously, as our visas are being approved for another two years here (yipee!), I discovered the Reverb 10 initiative about reflecting on this year and manifesting what's next, via my friend Resident on Earth. I can't imagine a better way to spend my anniversary month of one year in Germany with reflections on what we've done and what's still to come.

So I start this little project on December 1 with my one word for 2010: "new." While this may seem obvious - isn't every year new, after all? - just about everything I did this year, and the way in which I did it, was entirely new. I enjoyed the newness of the first year of marriage. I learned (ahem, am learning..) to communicate in a new language. I traveled all sorts of new places. I saw my old home in a new light when I returned for the first time as a tourist and not a resident.

For 2011, the type A side of me can't help but want to be described as "more." Don't get me wrong - I've done so much for someone thrown into a new country, culture and language - but I want to make even more progress for our next year. I want to really master the German language, not just be able to open my mouth without passing out from fear. I want to explore more of our beautiful new country, and the rest of Europe, without fear or preconceptions. I also want to be a better wife, friend and family member, both here and to those half a world away. I want to get and give more from where I am in my life right now.

I wish for everyone a month of reflection on what they've done this year and what they want to make for next year. Here's to 2010...

*Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische