Monday, April 19, 2010

Body image

Back in the day, when I would start WW for a while, give up for a while and then re-start, I became accustomed to having a huge loss in the first week. Of course, they say that most of it is water weight, but still, getting on the scale and seeing a 6 or 8 pound loss in one week feels damn good. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed this doesn’t happen to me anymore. Even though I *know* that a near-three pound loss in one week should be celebrated, I really can’t let go of my expectations that I could do better.

When I started seeing numbers above 200 on the scale, I was kind of thinking that it was no big deal because I was “just a little bit over 200, a mere few pounds” and that it would be really easy to get under again. And the fact that I didn’t lose enough in my first week to get back in the 100s, just affirms to me that I need to accept that I was firmly above 200 pounds. That it wasn’t just water weight that had pushed me to that 200 number.

Even though I’ve known that I’m obese for quite some time now, I’ve never thought that I looked that bad. Like, sure, I’m obese, but I’m not like orca fat. But, then last night I was watching “Friends” and Monica and Ross were talking about how they used to wrestle as kids and Monica could always pin him. And Ross (who is a whiney bitch, by the way) retorts with, “You were 200 POUNDS!” Everyone talks about Monica as being grotesquely overweight when she was a kid, which leads me to the natural conclusion that the majority of society must see 200 pounds as grotesquely overweight. And that’s how much I weigh.

So, I’m trying to reconcile my own body image with how others must view me. I feel like it’s apparent that I haven’t had a true sense of what I really look like, or even what a healthy weight looks like. So, I’m going to point to two other weight references in the media. First, have you ever seen the movie “America’s Sweethearts”? In it, Julia Roberts’ character is referenced as having recently lost a LOT of weight. They kind of go on and on about it, so you get the idea that she must have been huge. And then, Catherine Zeta-Jones says, “She lost 50 pounds.” I’ve only seen the movie once in its entirety, but I can hear Zeta-Jones’ voice clear as a bell in my head as she recites that line. Now, look at Julia Roberts. How much would you guess she weighs? She’s tall, so I’m going to just take a stab that she weighs about 125. So, if she had lost 50 pounds, that would mean she weighed 175, which is 30 pounds lighter than I was last Tuesday.

For my second media reference, I’m going to look at one of my favorite TV shows, “The Big Bang Theory”. As I’ve tried to lose weight, over most of my adult life, I’ve had in my head that my “ideal” weight is about 135 (I’m 5’4’’, so that’s not totally unrealistic). So, I’ve thought that if I actually weighed 135, I would be considered thin. Enter Penny. There’s an episode where Sheldon tries to guess Penny’s weight and he guesses 120. Penny is obviously insulted when she replies, “One-twenty?!” My thought here was, “Penny thinks that 120 is fat! And my GOAL is 15 pounds higher than that!”

But, my whole point here is that they write these shows to try and identify with the majority of the audience. So either, the show writers are failing miserably and don’t realize that the majority of their audience can’t relate to the idea that someone who is 5’10’’ and weighs 175 is FAT, OR the show writers are spot-on and I am, in fact, the minority. This would mean that everyone else around me sees me as obese and gross. Has my mental image of my how I really look been so clouded?

I’ll close today with a quote from the above referenced “The Big Bang Theory” episode:

Sheldon: Oh, I’m sorry. Did I insult you? Is your body mass somehow tied into your self-worth?
Penny: Well, yeah.

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