Ever since I hit puberty, I’ve been trying to get thinner. I remember going to school with tuna fish and sliced cabbage in vinegar for lunch. I remember carefully weighing my spagetti bolognese and being bitterly disappointed with how tiny my portion was, all of this at the tender age of sixteen. Like most women and girls, it seems, I was not happy with my body.
I won’t lie, it was entirely media driven. If I had allowed my view of body and my sexuality to be driven by the reaction of the males around me, I would have been absolutely convinced of my sexual magnetism but life isn’t like that. I was also a sensitive flower with a love of Byron and Shakespeare. Sexuality at all was a scary subject for me. Wanting to be thinner to be more attractive wasn’t really about sex at all. It was about beauty and self perception, being thinner would somehow have made me better. Without me really understanding why or how.
Over the last few months for whatever reason, losing weight has suddenly become rather easy. So easy it’s almost too dull to talk about. As with all things in life however, it has taught me something.
- You’d better enjoy the process because you ain’t ever getting off this train. When I say weight loss was easy, I don’t mean to say that the weight just fell off and I didn’t have to do anything. Of course I did. I drink less alcohol and eat less carbohydrate, I run and I eat mountains of salad and natural yoghurt. It’s not been hard because I actually quite like doing those things and that’s important because the second I stop doing those things the weight will all go back on. Being thinner than the weight your body naturally gravitates to is an ongoing task. There is never an point after which you get to forget about it and carry on with your life. This is your life.
- Eat the damned chocolate. This is related to the above. If you want to lose weight, I won’t tell you not to, but make sure that you don’t make your life miserable. Breaking your calorie budget every now and again and making room for pleasure will do you far more good than it will do harm, be healthy, not crazy.
- It won’t change as much as you think it will. Self esteem is bigger than what you see in the mirror and, if you are unhappy with yourself, a little bit (or even a big bit) of weight loss probably won’t help as much as you think. Self-esteem is about loving who you are, whatever package you come in. If you can love you before you get on a scale and before you try to embark on any healthy eating adventure, the end result will be a hundred times more positive.
- You won’t look that different to yourself. You see yourself in the mirror everyday, the inches disappear slowly and you don’t see it. Then you go to put on a favourite (british) top and it’s far too big. They used to say inside every fat girl was a thin girl screaming to get out, I would argue that inside many thin girls is fat girl screaming ‘what TF just happened?!’.
- I can totally understand how people develop eating disorders. This is related to the above. You look in the mirror and you’re still not as thin as you imagined you would be, so you wonder if maybe you should lose a bit more and so it goes on. Where does it end?
- It will be a long hard struggle to get the media to change its attitude to women’s bodies. We get used to seeing bodies that look a certain way. While I can’t see myself being vey much thinner, sometimes it feels as though other people have suddenly gotten bigger. My scale has shifted in proportion with myself. People in the media are surrounded by skinny women all the time. It’s normal to them. It will take a constant and concerted effort for not skinny to be normalised. A massive cultural shift with regard to women’s bodies will be required and believe it or not, the size and shape of women’s bodies have been influenced by the culture for a long time. Long before the media even existed. That however is a blog for another day.