Sunday, 14 August 2011

I diet therefore I am?

Talking about dieting brings out reactions. This I have noticed. I think probably partly because it's extremely egocentric to go on about what I'm eating every day and people thusly - and completely reasonably - find it dull as fuck.

But it also brings out other reactions. Lots of people have said to me that I look fine as I am (thanks lovelies), that I don't need to lose any weight (again, thanks but I disagree and so does my BMI, although only by a smidge it has to be said), that I should just be happy being me (alien concept, sorry). But is there something wrong with wanting to be, cough, the best me I can be?

I know I'm happier thinner. I also accept that spending my formative years sitting down reading books and avoiding all kinds of physical interaction with my peers has probably made it a lot harder to shift weight now. I've always battled my weight. I don't remember a day when I haven't woken up thinking about it and gone to sleep resolving to eat less, less, less the next day. That's just a fact. This isn't a whim, it's been a lifelong obsession.

The first time I remember being called fat was by my brother when I was about seven. I genuinely thought I was fat all through school and teenagehood. It's only now when I look back at pictures that I see I wasn't fat - don't get me wrong, I was definitely Not Thin, not then, not now, in fact only once briefly in my early 20s - I was fine. I looked OK.

But you grow up being called fat and it sorts of absorbs into your skin, like poisonous osmosis. You see it in the mirror. You see it in the eyes of your friends, covertly looking you up and down (at least in your head they do). I remember when I got my first pair of skinny jeans when I was 15 (they made a come back then too) and I got a size 10. I walked in to my friends whispering about me and finally got them to tell me that they thought I was lying about the size of them. I ended up tearfully showing them the label to prove that I really was in a size 10. Pathetic eh?

My mum threw away a dress I used to wear with leggings and Doc Martens. I asked her why and it was only years later that she said it was because I looked big in it. Well, maybe I was big - I still needed clothes didn't I??

Anyway, following a flirtation with mental illness and a pretty severe breakdown when I was 19, I put on a lot of weight. i would definitely go with the fact that I was FAT. But I didn't care. i was just glad I was waking up and not wanting to not exist anymore. That seemed more important. But as my return to university drew nearer I went on a diet. Again. I lost weight. And over the next two years I lost a LOT of weight. I was finally thin (like genuinely, had hip bones sticking out and could count my ribs). And yes, it made me happier. It did. It actually did. I looked in the mirror and I LIKED it. I liked buying clothes, I liked being thin.

It also gave me confidence. I met my ex while thin and thought I had it made. But, sadly, a few months of love and happiness and going out for dinner saw me pile on something like three stone in a year. My ex was (understandably I guess) Not Happy. It wasn't what it said on the tin. It wasn't the goods in the shop window. I think he felt cheated.

It became a Thing, and was one of the reasons given for our breakup seven or eight years later.

Christ, I'm boring myself. I guess my point is that this thing, this wanting to be thin, has dominated almost my entire life. I have been there and I know I'm happier. So, really, with the diets and the worrying and the thinking I am trying to get to a happier place. And that's an aspiration to be proud of. Isn't it? It's not about changing who I am, or wanting to be someone else. I want to me, just thinner and happier in my own skin. That's all.

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