A long time ago, I read an editorial piece by a well-known journalist talking about the weight loss of a well-known English comedian. Although she praised said comedian for her success, she said something else that really hit home for me. She said something along the lines of how sad it is that “no matter how successful a woman is in her career, losing weight is deemed her most significant achievement.” Truer words have never been spoken and I’ve certainly never forgotten it.
Spending an academic year in the South (Hattiesburg, Mississippi) made me see how shallow the generation I belong to is. Whilst I was there I was consistently making jokes and comments about my weight to my American friends, who in reality thought I was basically barking mad because they certainly did not see me as overweight. It’s a known fact that Mississippi has the highest obesity rate in the whole of the USA. Therefore size is more accepted and matters less because it’s not unnatural or unsightly to carry a few extra pounds on your person. I’m not making an excuse for my unhealthy habits but health issues aside, why is size such a “big” deal?
My friend Erin thought my size obsession was a UK cultural thing but I responded with “I’m pretty sure we inherited it from the US since Hollywood is constantly being pushed on to us and the rest of the world.” I’d actually managed to get my weight under control before Thanksgiving and after that I just let go. I was in a new place, a new culture and a new plate of exotic foods to try. I’d also just been dumped but let’s not get into that. I didn’t feel that I would be truly living and making the most of my study abroad time stateside by obsessing over calories and not trying new things. And I had nobody left to impress now either. I’ve constantly said since I returned home when people ask me about life in Mississippi “If I’d have come back lighter then I wouldn’t have had a good time,” which always draws a room of laughs. If I’m not eating then I’m either really full/unwell or very upset/worried about something.
Meghan Trainor lifted the weighted lid of stigma about the pressure of women to look like a “silicone Barbie doll.” I loved the way she approached the issue; although I don’t think she looks unhealthy or overweight in the slightest. So bearing this in mind, it’s sad that people were completely “all about that bass” whilst I was gone until they set eyes on me in person. The fact that people feel that they can make many a cruel or taunting comment on something so personal and private to an individual shows how “soft” they think I am. In the USA my friends never made my weight an issue or made me feel hideous in my own skin. Sadly, I can’t say the same for my UK friends. So what if I make a poor food or drink choice? It’s my life and my choice and I’d appreciate being able to eat my meal without being bombarded with unnecessary and impolite comments. I wouldn’t dream of saying things like “guess your weight gain makes dealing with your knee harder;” “you might not recognise Lisa; she used to be thinner the last time you saw her” or “it’s about how comfortable you feel in your own body; but you should definitely try to lose some.”
The sad reality is that nobody knows how many workout sessions I’ve done over the years and how hard I’ve tried etc. I’ve had a gym membership since I was 13 and a half because I was so insecure about my weight. Seven years later at 20, I’ve seen kids looking too small and out of place to even be in the gym. You should be out enjoying your life and not getting bogged down in the expectations of society. In the words of the Stiff Dylans, “now is a phase and its changing, its rotating us all.” It makes me sad when I look back at how many summers I wasted in the gym. I could have done all these days trips years ago! And more to the irony, I don’t find skinny legs attractive at all although I’d never not date someone primarily based on that. I’ve succeeded before in seeing my ribs through my skin. I’ve succeeded before in undertaking mammoth gym sessions. And I’ve succeeded before in letting other people get to me. And with my knee injury changing what I can and can’t do in life, I’d say that I am paying the ultimate price for that. It’s got to the point where I avoid certain crushes and friends in case they view me differently or unattractive and then when I do see them, I realise that the anxiety is purely mine and my real friends aren’t bothered about my size. I wouldn’t dream of telling a friend they’d got fatter since I last saw them. What sort of friend says that? We don’t have to wear each other’s clothes. We don’t have to know how much the other one weighs. There’s only one face and one body we have to quite literally “face” each day in the mirror and it’s our own.
A friend recently said to me that “being hungry is the price she pays for being skinny.” My Darling, you’re clearly going about it the wrong way if that is how you feel. Beautiful is not defined as skinny and damned is not defined as being not skinny, or curvy. I actually despise that word because to me it’s a recognition of being acceptably big or something to that affect ( I read an article a while ago about that word too).
As human beings with heads, hearts and an appetite, we NEED to take care about how we approach sensitive topics, like weight, to males and females. In time I will lose the weight I gained stateside but I’ll do it for me. Not for a guy, not a friend, not for a family member, for me. And if my friends ever find themselves in this boat, I know I won’t be the one to fasten this anchor of insecurity to their ankles.
Sometimes it IS best for the cat to have your tongue. Because an eating disorder can be delivered quicker than any fast food. But honestly reader, I truly believe from knowledge and experience, that the mirror will tell you when you’re the right size. NOT the scales. ❤
I’ve touched upon this subject before in a previous post: https://lisalaceberrie07.wordpress.com/2015/02/04/raise-your-glass-pink-2010/