You see, it's a diet book.
|The imprint from a wonderful badge made by the very talented Fancy Lady Industries|
But still, the book remains in my loungeroom somewhere, untouched. You see, diet is a very complicated word for me.
Apart from a brief brush with socially acceptable levels of fat in my early 20's (when I was starving my way through university), I've always been fat. It's as much a part of my perception of myself as my glasses, and has been an outward visual indicator of "me" for as long as I can remember. Even when I was actually quite thin from an objective point of view, I still visualised myself as fat. There are certain things that I am, that I've always been - I'm short, I'm fat, I have glasses, I have crooked teeth. These aren't ALL that I am, but they are essential touchstones of how I visualise myself. How I feel about these visual indicators has varied wildly - sometimes I feel okay about them, sometimes I wish I could carve the flesh off my bones. But regardless of how these visual indicators make me feel, these are all things that I know to be "true" about my physical appearance. But the thing is, they're not just physical indicators to me - these things are all part of how I view Me as a whole, part of my overall sense of self.
|More great stuff from Fancy Lady Industries. I really should have gotten a black one of these before they sold out.|
It's not just cognitive dissonance that makes me hide my straighter teeth though - there is also a part of me that is a little ashamed of having them straightened. Like I somehow sold out, swapped my "unique" teeth for something more popular. From a rational perspective, it was absolutely the sensible choice. The fact is that people DO judge you if you have crooked, scraggly teeth. They judge you as being ugly, and no one likes ugly people. There was no point in trying to make my life harder for myself, especially with regards to job interviews. I'm already crazy, overweight, and have a rather unusual resume - I don't need to show up with ugly teeth as well. But still, there is this little tiny part of me that feels like I'm not as me as I used to be, and that this is a bad thing. That I took the easy way out, and I should be ashamed of that.
From a purely rational perspective, it would be sensible to try and take my weight down even a little bit. I'm lucky enough to be in the band of fat where I would only need to lose a size, maybe two, and I could shop at the big end of most mainstream stores. I would still be big, but I'd be "acceptably" so. I'd probably have more energy too, and more energy is a good thing to have when you're someone like me who insists on taking on more projects than they can possibly ever complete. To be totally clear, I don't buy into the idea that fat automatically equals unhealthy in the slightest - it's total hogwash. But me, personally? I could be healthier, regardless of size. I eat pretty well, but I could eat better.
However, the siren song of society's obsession with slimness equaling happiness gets pretty fucking loud when I let my mind wander down this path, and rationality very quickly goes out the window. The vain, shallow thoughts that emerge almost immediately as soon as I start considering losing weight reveals my insistence that I only want to diet "for my health" to be a total lie - if I was really that invested in improving my health, I'd stop smoking for a start. It's just the cover I put over my vanity, to try and pretend I'm not like all those weight obsessed diet fanatics living on protein shakes. I try to pretend I'm not "like them", but deep down, I know I can be just as delusional.
Everything would be better, I tell myself. I'd be more attractive. My boyfriend would want me more. I could go on dates without fretting that my date will "discover" I'm fat. I could buy clothes wherever I wanted to (more or less). I wouldn't have to ask a shop assistant ever again if they carry any bigger sizes, and get That Look. I'd get a better job, because I'd be prettier, and prettier people have better jobs. I know, I KNOW this is all nonsense and lies and total garbage. I KNOW that none of it is true. I know people much bigger than me with far more confidence in their appearance, and people much smaller than me with far less. I KNOW self confidence is all in my head, and not linked to my actual physical size but to my perception of myself. I KNOW that the vast majority of diets do little to nothing to reduce your weight long term. But these tempting lies are always there, in the back of my mind, waiting for a chance to slither out and convince me that if only I was smaller, if only I was slimmer, then everything would be better.
I don't actually know how difficult it would be to drop those sizes - considering I already can't eat the vast majority of junk food or drink due to allergies, dietary changes would probably not be that difficult. I've looked at the CSIRO cookbook, and it's not hugely different from what I cook normally - I would just have to stop getting takeaway for dinner three times in a row. I'd also obviously have to do some sort of exercise, considering I don't do any at the moment. I mean, I walk around a fair bit, but nothing you would call strenuous in any way. I don't mind exercise, I could do that.
But I'm so afraid of the emotional implications. I'm afraid of succumbing to the ridiculous nonsense that sings to me from my subconscious. I'm afraid of putting everything into losing weight, then either not being able to, or doing it and having nothing in my life change apart from the weight. I'm afraid that I won't be able to do it sensibly, for all the sensible reasons, with sensible expectations. I'm afraid of other people judging me for dieting and failing to visibly lose weight, even if I feel better. I'm afraid of people seeing me dieting, and thinking that it implies a judgement on their size. I'm scared of people at work seeing me dieting, and thinking it's totally okay to say whatever they want about fat people in front of me, because obviously I'm on "their" side and I think fat people are gross too. I'm afraid that I can't untangle how much of wanting to go on this diet is a genuine desire to eat better and feel better, and how much is due to feeling I won't be acceptable until I'm thinner. I'm afraid of letting my plus size friends down, and I'm afraid of being seen as selling out. I'm scared that I just want to diet because learning how to love my big fat booty is simply too hard. I'm scared that if I can't love my big fat booty now, then I probably won't love it any more if I made it smaller, and then I'd feel like a fucking idiot. And a hungry idiot at that.
I don't expect anyone to have any sort of answer to this conundrum - lord knows I don't. But I just wanted to put that all out there, in case other people feel the same.
If you want to read about the "No Diet Talk" phrase pictured in the Fancy Lady Industries badge, I highly recommend this excellent post from The Militant Baker.