Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Body hate
(This is something I wrote quite a while ago. I was inspired by Annika to put it up)

Most of you have been here. I have been here. The first time when I was 9 years old and about 10 stints after that.

I am talking about sitting in a Weight Watchers meeting. You are surrounded by people (mostly women) of various sizes, led by a perky 50 year old chick who lost 35 pounds and has kept it off for 6 years. She tells the story of how, at her daughter’s bat mitzvah she realized that no one wanted to pick her up on the chair (as is customary) and she went to a meeting the next day and is proof that the program works.

She is encouraging the room to clap for everyone who has lost a pound (or more!) this week. Hooray! You are one step closer to perfection, one step closer to being what your (partner, husband, boss, mother) wants you to be.

Ultimately, I found out that the applause is not what you think it is. It starts as maybe something that you wish you felt good about – everyone else is smiling, aren’t they? Eventually you realize that in fact when they are all clapping for the woman who reached her goal weight, there is a room full of women wailing.

You are sitting among a group of women who cannot understand why they can’t do it, why they are so "weak." A room full of women who wear the same stretch pants and t-shirt every week and exhale deeply to rid themselves of the ounce of air polluting their lungs. There is a room full of women dying inside from the shame.

There is a room full of women surrounded by before and after pictures not of themselves. Photos of women and men who did IT. Who were able to overcome what seems like insurmountable odds to shed a thick layer of scorned flesh. A room full of women surrounded by sayings in cute fonts with sunshine and flower stickers on them like:

Nothing tastes as good as being thin feels!

A diet is the penalty we pay for exceeding the feed limit.

Eat to live, don’t live to eat!

Which is utter bullshit. I keep thinking that perhaps my mother’s generation was not as psychologically sophisticated and they fell for stupid sayings like this. Then I think, we all want to fall for stupid sayings like this.

Ultimately, it is a room full of women that got fat, not because they’re stupid, not because they like chocolate and not because they have no willpower. It is a room full of women who are doing everything they can to get through each day.

And sometimes that means 15 oreos.

It is a room full of women who are in so much pain that the only way they know how to get up and go to work every day is by eating a box of donuts on the way in.

It is a room full of women who come home to an empty apartment and all that means in our society and eat a loaf of bread.

It is a room full of women who take care of children, parents and spouses and who have little time to become the woman they thought they would be.

It is a room full of sexually assaulted, abused and harassed women who wish that they could disappear.

It is a room full of women who have been called names their entire lives that have nothing to do with who they are but rather what their thighs might have looked like in middle school.

It is a room full of women who, when they have the audacity to take a parking space, get called a "fat bitch" by the 25 year old guy in the BMW convertible who wanted it.

It is a room full of women who have "such pretty faces."

It is the saddest room I have ever been in in my life.

I am not criticizing Weight Watchers. It is by far the healthiest program out there and teaches how to eat "normally." What I am talking about is my inner shame. What I would never admit to during the hundreds of meetings I attended and beat myself up for years after each of my failures.

I hate knowing that I/we feel this way. And yet, I/we do.

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15 Comments:

Blogger Ellen Bloom said...

Wow. Incredible post, Faith. I applaud your honesty and identify completely.

Blogger Ana said...

Great post, I too have been there and probably will venture in the ww rooms again... I don't like it... but how right you are. Some days it takes a box of donuts to get through the day.

Blogger crazyauntpurl said...

I adore you.

Blogger Red said...

I came over from CAP, and I adore you too. I wrote a post about my own struggles with this just last night on my livejournal, and wish it didn't take up so much of our mental energy (but dont know how to make that true).

~Redzils

Blogger Dee said...

WOW! Very well written piece.

But, you know what ... not anymore. My body (for all it's faults) can do incredible things and I'm going to honor it just the way it is!

I'll feed it well (most of the time), but I won't be-cry the times when only 15 oreos will do.

Blogger crazyauntpurl said...

Also, can I tell you that if I ever hear anyone tell me the pretty face thing again, I might hit them?

Blogger Kacy said...

So true. Thanks for putting it out there in words that are very hard to find and even harder to say.

Blogger Amy said...

Oh my gosh. I can't believe how well you know my heart and thoughts on this. I am one of those other women in the room. While I'm glad to know that someone else understand, I am at the same time very sorry that you do get it. Somedays though, it's just too much and if oreos make me feel better then I don't care if it's one or one box. Sometimes, people really do just need to feel better.

Blogger amp said...

you are so right! I agree with purl, the next one gets it...

Blogger Elizabeth K said...

Wow. What you write is so true.

Blogger Wendy said...

I haven't had the same experience, but I love what you wrote. I love that you said exactly what is real, and I know it to be true, because I experience the same sort of crap because of other reasons/situations....stuff that seems so similar because it is about things that people just don't "get."

Ugh. I don't know if I made myself clear, or not. Just know that your post was lovely and said all the things you wanted to say without being angry or sad. You were just real, and I'm thinking that's the point.

Blogger Frank said...

Bravo!

I was a guy who went to those meetings. Well said!

Blogger Melly` said...

Haha - wonderful post. I have avoided going to the ww thing because I IMAGINED it to be exactly as you described. Oh gawd! Thank you!

Blogger debbie said...

I identify totally. I'm in the middle of reading all your posts.

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