Check out today’s fab guest blog by Alyssa from Take a Deep Breath. Thanks for hanging in with me everyone, and for all your warm wishes. I'll be back by next week!
How many times have you heard those words? Usually they come in the form of, well, a diet. Weight Watchers claims that "Diets Don't Work" (which is true), and, therefore, we should count points instead of calories, gain extra points by exercising (and the more vigorous the workout, the more points you earn), which, in turn, allows you to eat more.
I tried it. It was a recipe for exercise bulimia. "Stop Dieting, Start Living?" HA!!!!
"Call Jenny Today."
The first time I called Jenny, I was in grad school and was anorexic. Did they ask me about any of that? No. Did they ask about stats such as height, weight, etc.? No. They proceeded to give me a lecture on how I HAD to come in BEFORE the holidays, because the average person GAINS 7 POUNDS between Thanksgiving and New Year's! BOOGA BOOGA BOOGA!!!!!I never did call them back.
Well, until 9 years later, when I had given birth to 2 kids and was trying desperately to get back to my anorexia weight. Because I lived in L.A., was an actress, and was considered WAY too fat to live, let
alone be on camera. So I called Jenny, and for 3 months ate pre-packaged, frozen food filled with HFCS and preservatives. Basically, it was the kind of food I wouldn't let my family touch. I'd cook nutritious, yummy food for them, then watch them eat as I heated up yet another enchillada-sicle. I lost weight. Along with my will to continue living. But, I'm ashamed to say, I also lied to my Jenny representative. See, I was doing the at-home, over the phone version. So she would ask me what my weight was, and, after being truthful the first time (I hadn't lost any weight), learned to lie. Otherwise I'd get the "Let's go over your food and exercise log and see what went wrong" speech. It made me feel like a 4 year-old, rather than a capable, 36 year-old mother of 2 special needs kids who is QUITE able to take care of herself, thankyouverymuch.
So then I read French Women Don't Get Fat. Which would have worked REALLY WELL if I lived in France. Or, at least, a place where I could walk to the market every day for fresh, organic, local produce (as opposed to an L.A suburb that had a farmer's market once a week with inflated prices), or walk ANYWHERE, for that matter! It was L.A! No one WALKS!!!!! (Also, I would need to be independently wealthy in order to afford all that fresh, organic, local produce.) Plus, there was the whole leek soup thing. If you've read it then you KNOW what I'm talking about. If not, consider yourself lucky.
Yes, I'm bitter. I'm bitter because, just days shy of my 40th birthday, I am finally coming to terms with the fact that I will never have a Hot Beach Bod. Even when I was 40 pounds lighter I was pale and scary-looking. (Um, probably because of the anorexia.) When I think of all the time, energy, money and tears I've spent trying to change the basic shape of my body, I want to either scream or reach in to my inner child and give her a long, tight hug.
Because I can totally accept OTHER peoples' bodies. Just not my own.
An example: in recent months I've been catching up on Gilmore Girls episodes. (I know, I know! Cut me some slack, I'm a mom. The fact that I can watch ANYTHING without animated fish in it is a minor miracle.) And Melissa McCarthy is on the show. I just LOVE her! (She's also on Samantha Who? which I haven't seen all that much.) I also love that not once, at least in the episodes I've seen, has anyone made any issue of her weight. AND, she's a chef, AND they actually show her EATING!!!!!! A woman on TV eating!!!!! Even when her character was pregnant there were no fat jokes. Pee jokes, yes. Not being able to move as well because of a 7-pound person sitting on your insides, yes. But no FAT jokes. (Which is a MAJOR miracle!) Plus, she's ADORABLE and BEAUTIFUL.
But I look at myself and all I see is fat which, on me, I equate with ugliness and failure. And I have for as long as I can remember.
I recall looking at a picture of a teen Miss Something or Other. She and I were the same age, and she was posing in her swimsuit (and tiara and banner), and I thought to myself "This is what I'm SUPPOSED to look like." Of course, at the time, I had no idea of the work, preparation and money that went in to becoming a teen pageant queen. The scary thing is that this was the 80's, and our standards since then have become even more impossible. Women are supposed to wear pants that fit children. Young girls are expected to be sexual at younger and younger ages. Our "ideal" woman looks like a 12 year-old. And that's just sick. (And just try finding a cute,non-slutty Halloween costume for your daughter!)
Look, I'm not a prude. I'm not saying we should cover up completely and go all Queen Victoria, but we've come to view womens' (and, to some extent, mens') bodies as public domain. We equate thinness with morality. We judge others based solely on how "hot" they are. When I was an actress, I accepted it as part of the job. But the parameters got A LOT smaller once I was in Hollywood. As a stage actress, no one complained about my looks. When I tried to get on TV, fuhgeddaboutit!!!!!! Finally I got disgusted with being dismissed as soon as I walked in the door. Of losing out on jobs to women who had less talent, less experience, but looked better in their underwear. And I got REALLY sick of these same women being demeaned by producers, casting directors, crew members, and people on the street. 'Cause you would not BELIEVE the things guys in power will say to and about the actresses working for them. If it were any other industry, they'd be sued. But because attractiveness is a requirement of the job, they get away with it.
So, yes, I'm still angry. I don't want my daughter OR my son growing up believing that women exist solely for mens' pleasure or derision. We are NOT objects. Let's turn off the reality TV, put the magazines back on the racks, and shut down the gossip websites. Let's go back to seeing people as human beings. Let's take all the energy we put into our bodies out into the world and kick some major a**!