Saturday, November 02, 2002

Diet Dysfunction or The Dangers of Messing Up Your Body in the Name of Vanity

Now that I am procrastinating from completing the first draft of my essay on the Qing dynasty and Western imperialism--interesting but damn if trying to stuff about 100 action-packed years of politics and radical social change into an essay doesn't do one's head in...--I'd like to draw attention to this article that compiles accounts fromtwo women who overdid dieting in their quest for more desirable bodies and two women who express concern about this matter. (Editor's note: for those not familiar with the British system of weight, 1 stone=14 lbs, if I am not mistaken)

Point is, I used to be one of those women. And in some ways, I still am.

Like the woman in the first case, I used to starve myself, take laxatives, exercise non-stop and do all those health-destroying practices that many women have taken in order to lose weight or preserve their svelte waistlines.

Was I happy?

Well, yes and no.

I used to be almost 200lbs and at 5ft 2-and-a-1/2 inches, that just translated into disaster on the social scene, especially since I carried that weight throughout most of my teenaged years where I felt it very keenly when my classmates were dating and no guy would look at me without laughing or making some snide remark.

So I dieted... and dieted... and exercised... and dieted... until I reached 114lbs. I was a size 2 American and size 8 British. It was great! I could wear anything short of a bikini and look fantastically slim and sexy... or so I thought.

However, the family doctor said that I looked ill because even though I was petite, my most sturdy frame meant that I couldn't reach the 100lbs goal weight without looking thoroughly emaciated.

But still I dieted and kept on at it until psychologically, I was a wreck--I kept worrying about everything I ate, went on incessant guilt trips, and took to the practice of cooking lots of yummy things--cooking and baking is my hobby--but instead of enjoying food myself, I gave it all to my friends. Whenever my waistline pinched a bit, I would freak out.

It even got to the point where I wouldn't step on the scale in the morning without first going to the toilet and relieving myself, and then taking off ALL my clothes so that there was no added weight.

To cut a long story short, I slowly pulled myself out of it. It helps when you have friends who care more about your health than your appearance.

And you know what? As I began to enjoy food again--and of course, put on some weight--I began to realise that I was always miserable inside during my ultra-thin stage because I was always hungry and always pre-occupied with food and fashion and I let that carry on for more than a year until a college nurse realised what was happening and began helping me climb out of the physical mess I was in.

Now I am at a bigger but more constant size 4/5 and am happier and healthier for it. No worries about food--although lately, due to too much work, I think that I've gotten too sedentary--and my mind is free to deal with other problems in life... such as completing this pesky Qing dynasty essay and hosting great potluck parties where my friends come for great conversation and, of course, to gorge themselves on fabulous food.

I still have problems with men, with work, with family. The problems just changed, in some respects. Sometimes, I feel tempted to lapse back into my previous dysfunctional dieting habits and I have to stop myself short of it. This is particular true of whenever I am having a rough ride in life. And sometimes, I wonder if this tendency will ever go away...

The one lesson I learned from all this can be summed up in what one of the women in the article says:

What I am trying to say is that weight loss is not the 'be-all and end-all'. To the contrary, Prince Charming will not suddenly come riding along to sweep you off your feet just because you're thin. Unfortunately, your problems won't go away. They just change.

You said it, sister!

Note: Cross-posted at Mindscapes, Heartstrings and Soul-searching

1 comment:

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