Posted on | June 7, 2013 | 1 Comment
For once, I’m referring not to the f*** word, but to ‘fat’. For today, home is a three-letter word.
This is kind of difficult to write, which is why I have delayed almost two weeks in posting it. I met a woman, a blogger and ‘body positive’ activist. Her name is Jes.
She’s fat, and doesn’t mind describing herself as such. Size 22, to be precise. We spent almost two hours discussing body image, size, fatness, weight. (I was interviewing her for 3 Story Magazine.) And then, the next day, with her most celebrated blog post yet, she gained worldwide media attention for her clever poke at Abercrombie & Fitch and its apparently size-ist CEO, Mike Jeffries.
But that’s another story, and one you can read about here.
My story is this: I over-ate for about a week afterwards. I’ve had a weight problem almost since I can remember. Sadly, I was not blessed with the skinny genes of my parents and brother. And because I was slightly plump, I gave up with trying to be average-sized (skinny was never on the menu for me) and did a lot of emotional overeating and academic over-achieving instead. Hence weight gains, and from there, diets. Ridiculous ones. Liquid diets, no fat diets. Decades of them. And you already know the result: weight losses and gains in equal measure.
Weight Watchers has been a savior to me. With the exception of these last couple of years, and a depression problem, WW has kept my weight pretty average and on track for about the last decade.
Still, the emotional overeating is there, and it doesn’t take much (a stressful day, not enough loving from Hubby) to trigger it again. That chat with Jes took the biscuit, though. I think I was using it as an excuse to stuff my face. Feminist thoughts and a f***-it-all attitude, similar to what she has, took over… but only for a little while. Much as part of me would love to stick a finger up to the western world’s obsession with female size and diets, I prefer myself when I’m not fat.
And there is another, more pressing, factor here: my daughter, Sweetpea. She is twelve and almost the same weight as me. She has an eating disorder, has done since she started eating solid food. She is clinically obese. She seeks comfort from food. She adores eating, is happy both thinking about and consuming food, and is unhappy and stressed if she thinks it’s being held back from her.
Half of me wants to ‘fix’ it, and I have tried. There have been professionals – a nutritionist, an endocrinologist, a therapist. There is a small library of books. There have been eating programs ranging in theme, from eat-all-you-want-and-let’s-try-to-curb-this-obsession to count-calories-and-get-your-weight-down-cos-this-is-dangerous.
I am in the land of therapy, medical help and self-help. I have investigated and practiced many, many things. And yet her obsession for food and eating continues, albeit to a lesser, more manageable, extent (although that’s maybe just me being in a bit of denial). And I, more and more, say to hell with it. I celebrate the fact that she is beautiful and confident and, most importantly, healthy. And I celebrate the fact that there are now people like Jes as role models.
But still. Still…
Would I prefer that Sweetpea was skinny or average or just a little plump? Yes. Just as I would prefer that I didn’t have to count Points and choose chips and wine over a full meal, because Weight Watchers doesn’t ‘allow’ you to have it all. Just as I would prefer to not have to weigh in somewhere and pay strangers money to see a scale fall so sloooowly each week that it hardly seems worth doing.
There is not an end, a conclusion, to this blog entry. And that’s because there is not an obvious solution to my, and Sweetpea’s, problems. The pendulum swings for me, from a “f***-it-all” attitude a la Jes, to the other extreme, where I am blissful in my Size 8 jeans and soaking up the “You look great!” comments from other women (because, let’s face it, men barely notice). And it settles, for the most part, somewhere in the middle, a place that says (and I repeat this to Sweetpea so many times): We come in all shapes and sizes. Let’s just try and be healthy and happy.