October 14, 2003

no, it's not easy

I may have come off a bit holier-than-thou in that last entry. I donít mean to. Iím well aware of both how easy it is to gain weight and how hard to excise it. I am, after all, working to lose forty five pounds myself. I wasnít obese, not yet, but the scale kept going up, and I felt unhealthy and uncomfortable. But I know what itís like to come home at dinner time, too hungry to think about cooking something real. I know what itís like to have a long commute and nothing to eat in the car but goldfish crackers and nutter butters meant for a young child. I know what itís like to get so used to larger portions you eat a carefully-apportioned normal sized meal and walk away hungry and frustrated. I know what itís like to be so exhausted and overwhelmed the thought of exercise, of working your body hard, seems like the last thing in the world you should be doing for yourself. I know itís like to be so restless, bored, upset, stressed or wired that you want to stop it somehow and the easiest way, the most immediately emotionally satisfying way, is to stuff something sweet or lusciously fatty in your mouth. You may be craving something you canít have Ė a happier life, a calmer life, fewer worries Ė so you turn to something you can. And itís right in your cabinet or fridge and it stops the pain for a moment and you can rationalize it so easily. After all, that one square of chocolate/bowl of ice cream/bag of chips wonít put another ten pounds on all by itself, right? And it wonít, but the next hundred times you do that? It will.

So yes, I know how I put forty five pounds on my five foot not-quite-four frame and I know intimately how much commitment and discipline it takes to get that excess poundage off again. I know how I got this way, and I can guess how everyone else too. Itís a complex weave of loneliness, busyness, convenience, pleasure and exhaustion, plus some. The mix is different for everyone, albeit with common threads. I donít judge anyone for letting their weight creep up. In fact, I find I judge less now, twenty pounds down from my highest weight, than I did even four months ago. Iíve read more first-person accounts since then and thought about the issue a great deal and so I have a sense of what itís like inside everyoneís minds. Itís a lot like the terrain inside my own.

I also think itís evil the way our culture condemns the extra weight it fosters, the way models and actresses are forced to starve themselves down to the bone and then their non-menstrual, concave bodies are held up as the sexual ideal. Large women (and men) are sexual beings too and can be just as beautiful but our eyes are no longer used to processing the world that way, and thereís something deeply disturbing about that too.

But thereís a difference between non-skeletal beauty and fat-as-health-risk. Obesity is a societal problem of enormous proportions (pun intended). We need to take charge of our own destinies and not let commercialism and big business dictate what we do to and for ourselves. When I was in college, a recurring slogan for the feminist movement was ďWomen unite, take back the night!Ē Another was ďThe personal is political.Ē Well, people, letís unite to take back our bodies and our lives. The personal is indeed political.

Posted by Tamar at October 14, 2003 05:49 PM