If you’ve been following this blog or have known me for anything more than 3 months, you’ll know how contrary I can be about my weight. I think I may even verge on being a bit multiple-personal-disorder about it.
There are days where I’m that all-confident girl, the one who doesn’t give a hoot about how much she weighs as long as she’s feeling good and looking pretty.
Then there are the days that I look in the mirror, see nothing but the Pilsbury doughboy looking back at me, hate myself, vow to lose 10 kilos / 2 stone / 20 pounds or whatever, and spend the rest of the day feeling guilty about eating anything.
But see, whether I’m being nonchalant about it or I’m driving myself to despair about it, the bottom line is I’m thinking about it. That’s all I do – think about whether I look too fat, or just right? Have I got good curves now or are they turning into an irreversible bloat? How much further have I got to go until I reach my ideal size? How should I change my eating habits and increase my workouts to get to that size? And then, when I get there, I think about what I have to do to maintain it and not put back on the weight. Ad infinitum.
Yes, so I confess. I think about my weight all the time. And given the chance, I’d talk about it all the time too (a few unfortunate friends, you know who you are, have been privy to these sad, unending monologues).
I know it’s all very ridiculous really. I know too that nobody actually gives half as much of a shit as I do. Even the fat-shamers probably don’t give it much thought. It’s me who sits there feeling bad about their comments for hours, long after they’ve forgotten they’d even said anything.
The media too go to extremes in their commentaries on weight. On the one hand, perfect air-brushed glossies tell you that this is what the ideal should look like; magazine headlines scream that this this is the perfect bikini body you should aspire towards this summer; adverts tell you that if only you looked like this then would you desirable / sexy / successful / beautiful.
On the other hand, more recent responses across websites and columns about women’s issues encourage us to love ourselves just as we are and discourage us from being too concerned about what we look like – especially when it comes to size. They celebrate shows like Girls and The Mindy Project because the new-generation stars in them are proud to show off their bodies just as they are.
So what is it? Love ourselves just as we are, wobbly bits and all? Or aspire just that little bit more and a little bit more and another little bit more to be exactly that beautiful ideal that’s constantly shoved in our faces? Shall we be aspire to be like Mindy? Or that svelte, long-legged model in the ads aired in between the episode?
In the face of all this, my question is, is thinking about weight really that bad? Sure, I know there can be a thing as over-thinking (oh boy, am I familiar with that one) and taking anything too far to its extreme. I’ve done the whole eating disorder thing (bought the t-shirt and lost enough weight to fit into it) to know how destructive this whole weight obsession thing can be.
But is it really so bad to want to be a bit slimmer? To fit those jeans a bit better? To be able to be a little less blobby when I want to wear that Bebe tube dress?
There’s a whole lot out there telling us that no! we shouldn’t conform to any of these imaginary beauty ideals. Stop thinking about it so much. Wear that Bebe dress and be proud of however you look! You look fine just the way you are!
Well, no. Not really. The dress I used to fit very well is now riding up in all the wrong places and I’m ‘leaking’ out the top of the dress band. It just doesn’t look good.
It’s taken me a very, very long time to get to this place but I do know where I want to be. I know that if I can fit into this dress or those jeans or that top, and look comfortably good in it, then I’m alright. (The old me would have gotten to that stage and then aimed to lose another 5 more kilos, and then another 10, and another 5….).
So thinking about weight now is perhaps more about achieving balance: regaining some control in my health, fitness, eating and exercise. It’s about looking as good as I feel, and feeling as good as I look. It’s about knowing when I don’t look or feel as good in my clothes as I did a few kilos ago and thinking of doing something about it; it’s also about knowing when I’m feeling just right, and taking the measures to maintain it.
I reckon that it’s when we don’t think about something like this that we get into trouble. If we’re not thinking about what would make us happy with and about ourselves, we’ll end up on either extreme: we’ll either:
a) take the impossible air-brushed supermodel ideals as the be-all-end-all and thus always end up feeling inadequate, or
b) discard all and any discussion on beauty and turn into an unhealthy, overeating, overweight, ungroomed slob.
I know I shouldn’t beat myself up too much about also this (which yes, I also have a tendency to do – am working on that!). But I know I also shouldn’t be too lax about it. So I think about it – just so, just enough to know what’s going to work for me and what’s going to make me feel good about me.
And really, is that such a bad thing?
Pic from Envisioning the American Dream