Weight and light

In the land of womanhood, there is an obstacle course of shit to deal with surrounding weight. You weigh too much, but if you diet, you’re anorexic. Love yourself, but only if you’re a size 2. Oh, and, by the way: every single manufacturer is going to have different sized clothing, but they’ll all still say “size 2”.

I intended to talk about my struggles with my weight, dieting, and the like in writing “Omg no more food for liiiiiiife“. That somehow devolved into talking about how my need for control in certain areas of my life. So I’m going to address the original intended topic here.

I have a tumblr blog, as many of you may already be aware, but I don’t post anything personal of substance there. Mostly, I reblog stuff from the other tumblr blogs I follow, sometimes with such eloquent comments like, “OMFG” and “gaaaaaaah cuuuuuuute” and “Hahaha this is totally me” and so on. Most of the reblogs are presented without comment, however, and reading through them, you’ll find themes covering misandry, anarchism, feminism, paganism, cartoons and comics, anime and manga, Supernatural, Sherlock Holmes, cats and cute animals, human rights, passive aggressive notes, Disney, Star Trek stuff, charts and graphs, tattoos, beautiful women and men, general geekiness, depression, making fun of men who participate in misogyny, and more.

Anyway, within the last half-year or so, I subscribed to a tumblr called Skinny Sparkles and started reblogging some of the posts, mostly ones showing women with braids and/or beautiful hair, women jumping (action shots) or holding strenuous gymnastic poses, and quotations inspiring continued weight loss and maintenance.

When I first started following the young woman’s tumblr, I was intrigued by her apparent ability to balance between good health and anorexic “thinspiration” in her personal life. She has a “before and during” image, which I’ve reblogged here in the event that she ever removes it from her own tumblr. I don’t consider the “before” image to be of a person at all over weight, but I was impressed with her decision to use how she looked as a measuring stick over how much she weighed. She told her subscribers that she never weighed herself, but simply ate very healthy foods—fruits and veggies, lean proteins, and etc.—and avoided “bad” fatty foods, drank lots of water (and no soda), and worked out every day.

I actually am overweight, as it turns out. Not horribly, but enough that I’ve begun to notice it. My “healthy” weight is somewhere in the 140-160 lb. range, and I’m at least 20 lbs. over the top of that limit right now. Skinny Sparkles inspired me to think about what kinds of foods I put into my body, and to seriously consider planning more physical activities into my daily schedule so that I can become more healthy overall. I wouldn’t mind having my current weight if I knew it was muscle and not fat—who wouldn’t? It’s not about “losing weight”, Skinny Sparkles said; it’s not about what the scale says.

It’s really about how I look and feel in the clothes I want to wear.

There are many ways to overcome that pressing anxiety, and by far the easiest—societally speaking, at least—is to adhere to a strict regimen of food intake, lots of water, and lots of exercise. I could also change what kinds of clothes I want to wear—change my expectations and perception of my body so that the clothes that better fit me now are also the ones that I pick up to look at while I’m shopping. Or, I could say, “Fuck it; patriarchy is screwing me and every other woman on the planet with it’s unrealistic expectations of women’s bodies and clothes” and then toss the whole idea out the metaphorical window. That is to say, I could train myself to give zero fucks about what other people see when they look at me on any given day.

Now, one of my friends asked about why I was reblogging some of Skinny Sparkles’ stuff, the posts of which all have the following underneath the images, and which I’ve never bothered to delete:

skinny-sparkles: CLICK HERE to join The Weight Loss Community!!🙂

I was actually already in the process of writing my “Omg no more food for liiiiiiife” entry when she (my friend) asked, but when I sat down to finish that essay, I realized how off-topic it had really become—I hadn’t mentioned Skinny Sparkles at all, and talking about my own weight loss crap had somehow segued into how much control I feel like I have versus how much control I think I need to have, etc.

Currently, I don’t look or feel good in the clothing I like. I have to do one of those three things; I have to either shape up, get clothes that fit better, or learn to give zero fucks. The second choice of the three is actually the most difficult since I’m very tall and have trouble finding (1) shirts that fit my bosom and my arm length, and (2) pants that fit my waist and leg length. Generally speaking, I can have one choice from each category, but it’s rare and unusual to find some piece of clothing that covers both choices. Finding clothing like that is like… it’s like seeing a leopard in the wild—it’s possible, but it’s so rare that it’s really impossible, practically speaking.

I’m a jeans/casual type of lady, but I’d still like to have some curves to show off when I want to, you know? I work better with something to weigh against (no pun intended), and so “just eating healthy and working out” wasn’t going to work for me. I don’t like running because I’ve been seriously harassed while out on a route in my own well-to-do suburb of Los Angeles. I don’t like lifting weights or whatever; I’m not a gym rat. I could go for some kind of cardio or dance class, but that would probably require money that I don’t have. I decided early in my weight loss plan to just cut out trying to do any kind of physical activity more than the things in which I already participate. (For example, my job requires me to be on my feet for 95% of the time I’m clocked in.)

I wasn’t expecting it to be a fast process; I had gained the extra 20+ lbs. in the three years since returning home from New York City. I was expecting it to take at least a year to lose it again. There was no rush anyway; I wasn’t trying to fit into my wedding dressing in less than a month (no, I’m not getting married). I’m not the type of gal to sit out on the beach or even swim or even wear a bathing suit with any regularity, in the summer or otherwise, so it’s not like I had to “do something” by the time beach season came around again.

I started a weight journal. Originally, I intended only to weigh myself once a week, write in my goal weight and current weight, and then write a few lines about my progress or lack thereof, if applicable. I did that for a month and discovered that I’d actually gained weight in the time I’d been recording it. I switched to weighing myself every day so as to better understand my weight fluctuations, including “water weight” and the like. I tried to eat healthier, but as I mentioned before, I’m not any kind of chef, and usually my desire to just not have to deal with food-making trumps my desire to eat something beneficial to my body.

There’s more incentive, for example, for me to do the dishes after someone else has cooked because (1) I know that leaving dirty dishes around draws pests, (2) if the dishes aren’t clean again soon, whoever makes the food won’t have anything to use to prepare or serve it, and (3) it’s a way for me to say “thanks for cooking for me; I appreciate you”… If I’m cooking for myself, I’m much more likely to just eat from an open can of SpaghettiOs with a spoon because then I’ll only have to wash the spoon and will be able to just toss the tin can when I’m done. It seems like laziness (and, to an extent, it is), but it’s also my mind over-thinking how efficient I can be with the least amount of effort necessary.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, Skinny Sparkles posted an essay titled “SHOCKING Confession. PLEASE Read. This could change your life.” wherein Skinny Sparkles admits to starving herself, taking laxatives and diet pills, and weighing herself constantly. (I reblogged the confession as well, which is linked in this post, just in case the original poster decides to take her confession down.) She warns against starvation diets and tells her readers that she has only given good advice to them, but she just hasn’t been taking that advice for herself. Now, she says, “you can inspire me.”

Most of the responses she received were in the vein of “Wow, I’m so proud of you for coming clean!” and “I’m so sorry you’ve been struggling all this time!” and so on. When I read the confession, I couldn’t help but think to myself, “Wow, she lied this whole time. Maybe I should starve myself to get the results I want.” I was angry that someone who I considered a role model was actually just a hypocrite. I stopped weighing myself and writing about my progress. I decided that maybe giving zero fucks really was the right path to take.

But every time after that when I looked in the mirror, or picked up a fork-full of delicious food, or opened the refrigerator door, I still felt fat and loathed myself. It’s still like that; nothing has really changed, except now I’m more cynical and less hopeful about the whole thing.

I don’t (think I) have an eating disorder. I like eating. I don’t binge and purge. (Though I do simply binge sometimes, as you’ll recall.) I don’t not eat, and yet I’m still obsessed with the way I look and feel in the clothes I wear. I still want to get rid of the belly and thigh fat I’ve gained since moving home from NYC. I just… I don’t know. I had a plan, and the inspiration for that plan ended up being a hypocrite.

I don’t want to have to think about this any more, honestly. I would like to give zero fucks, but society (especially popular culture) refuses to talk about anything except dieting, staying young (or young-looking, at least), and “pleasing your man”… None of which I’m interested in at all. I’m just so done with hearing the same thing over and over; so, so done.

Viannah E. Duncan

Viannah E. Duncan is a writer and activist hailing originally from Los Angeles. She lives outside of Baltimore, Maryland, and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Wilkes University. She has a cat, Cleo.

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