Something that I both understand, but yet not understand: why do we women obsess over our weight?
A relative recently told me that I was “looking too thin.” I was delighted hearing this and took it as a great compliment. I know I’m no skinny minnie, but am finally to a decent body shape, and (for the most part) a proper-looking proportion.
I’ve never had a huge weight problem, but have always been a little too worried about my weight — to the point of neurosis. I was always physically active. When we were little, my brother and I spent every summer outside playing ’til dark. As a teen, I played community and school sports. In high school, we were weighed and measured (for BMI I guess?) in P.E. twice a year. It never bothered me, because I never gave it any thought.
Around my ninth grade year, we were weighed, and when I mentioned to a friend what I weighed, a boy I had a crush on overheard what I said and told me “Good grief, you’re fat!” That’s all it took … from that point on, I was constantly watching my weight, worrying about it, obsessing over it. I starved myself. I would eat lunch and dinner with family and friends, then sneak off to go throw up. My parents knew something was wrong, but back then bulimia and anorexia were unheard of. Hell, my dad tried to force me to eat sometimes and would throw fits if I were caught throwing up after dinner. They didn’t know how to deal with my obsession, but I guess all things considered dealt with me the best they knew how.
I guess my saving grace was college. I moved to Mobile — over 300 miles away from home, and I knew absolutely no one. I was shy growing up and doing this forced me to come out of my shell. In the process of meeting new people and finding new friends, I did a little self-discovery and eventually realized the damage I was doing to myself. Discovering I could sing (purely by accident even, but that’s another story!) helped. I’d always had a love of music, but being able to express myself through song really helped. I wrote and sang songs about things I was feeling. Having people come up to me saying things like “I know exactly how you feel!” or “Thank you, I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels this way!” helped in ways (that I thought) no one else knew.
Heh, I think I put on about 20 pounds that year. While I’d love to be a tiny little size 0 again, I can’t complain too much about the way I look now. One of the best compliments I’ve ever received was from my best friend, Reggie. I was complaining about gaining a little weight — one of my coworkers made an offhand comment that I had taken the wrong way. (Imagine that! ;)) He looked at me with a very serious look on his face and said, “I’m going to put it this way: you’re FINALLY getting curves where you’re SUPPOSED to have curves! Now stop your bitching.”
All of my life before that, no one had ever put things in perspective to me in that way. I had spent all that time obsessing over my weight — a stupid number! — and never once considered the way my body LOOKED.
I won’t lie to you … I still look in the mirror and say to myself, “My God, you’re fat.” BUT I can honestly say that I avoid scales like the plague. I’ve discovered that you can drive yourself crazy in a hurry if you are comparing numbers three times a day. I had even talked to my doctor about trying out one of those serious diet prescriptions (like Tenuate) … yikes! What was I thinking?
Eventually I realized that my problem all along has been me. My perception was always that being ‘healthy’ meant matching a certain number on a chart to my weight rather than looking at my measurements or how I FELT. Even when I was thin, I never “felt good.”
In realizing this, I came to a few conclusions:
- I know I could exercise more. I know I’m nowhere the shape I was in high school or college — it was fabulous, and I’ve gotten lazy in my old age. ;P But oh well, that’s a goal.
- I know that I look well because I’m otherwise healthy. I eat better now than I have in years.
- I’m finally happy. Well … over all.
- Sure, I don’t have everything I want in life, but I am engaged to a very wonderful man, and eventually we WILL be married.
- Sure, I don’t have a job right now, but I want to work very badly and know that I work hard and take pride in everything I do. I push myself to learn something every day in order to better myself.
So I must be doing something right, right?
Besides, I realize that not everything will go the way I want or planned. I know that I’ll always have something to bitch and moan about … but if I didn’t, I think I’d be awfully bored! ;)