For all of you unaware, I am a smoker. Being a smoker, I have to contradict myself by saying that I think the habit is disgusting and unattractive. I hate the way it smells; I hate the way it makes my mouth taste after a cigarette, despite how much I probably did enjoy that cigarette.
I’ve been smoking off and on (mostly on) for about eleven years and even in the face of being intelligent enough to know that the habit may kill me one day, I have yet to make a seriously serious attempt at quitting. I quit when I was pregnant with my child. I continued the attempt as I was breastfeeding. I began again once I went back to work. It was always a ritual with me. First cup of coffee in the morning? Cigarette. Mid-morning break? Cigarette. After a meal? A cigarette. My personal favorite: the cigarette(s) with the great glass of red wine. So, so fine. It rarely gets old for me.
It’s also a pretty popular habit for college-aged women, it appears, as well. According to an article in the LA Times, a new study shows that most women smoke nowadays to cope with stress and find that it makes them feel more confident about themselves, oddly enough. A lot of these same women don’t want to quit smoking because they are afraid of weight gain. I would have to say, in my most shallow way yet, that I am more than likely a part of that percentage. Beyond the fact that it’s a disgusting vice that I will admit to enjoying immensely, there is a part of me that fears weight gain in the event of quitting. I know, I know. That’s stupid. Believe me, I know. Being a semi-intelligent and educated woman, I know how moronic that sounds, up to and including my perpetuation of a deadly habit.
College-aged women who participated in a recent study were split into two “support groups” to compare the effects of two methods of smoking cessation. One group focused on fitness and exercise. The other group participated in group therapy, a more traditional form of structured smoking cessation. The support group model also incorporated body image counseling, which is always a relatively touchy subject for a woman. After an eight-week session for both programs, the women who participated in the counseling group had almost double the amount of success as compared to the success rate of the exercise group. To debunk the “gaining weight” post-smoking cessation belief, the women who participated in the group therapy actually lost 3.3 pounds, as opposed to the women who killed themselves exercising, who on average lost none.
If I could be guaranteed to avoid gaining weight, I may consider quitting. Does that make me anti-feminist? Does that fact assume that I’m trying to conform to society’s “ideal” of a thin woman? Nope. That just makes me a woman who’s got a little bit of a body image issue, herself. Plus, I really enjoy the disgusting whore of a habit. Please forgive me.
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