Sunday, November 05, 2006

On Being Thin

I have weighed about 135 pounds for just over a year now. I’d never make it on America’s Next Top Model (Dear ANTM Producers: please make up a challenge wherein those girls gain about 15lbs each – Tyra should have some suggestions.) but it’s safe to say that I’m skinny. It’s tough to write that, I find myself thinking “I’m not skinny! That’s ridiculous, I look normal!” But the numbers don’t lie, I’m 5’4”, I weigh 135lbs, I’m a size 4. I’m significantly smaller than most American women.

Before I started officially dieting in March of 2005 I think I weighed about 170lbs but it’s hard to say for sure since I mostly avoided weighing myself. I wasn’t one of those girls who had always been fat, I didn’t hate my body, and I didn’t spend years trying to lose weight. I thought I was curvy, perhaps a little chubby but nothing too awful. I was so accepting of my body that I didn’t believe it could change. I believed diets were gimmicky and futile and too many women seemed to hate who they were because of their body size. I didn’t want to waste time eating cabbage soup and grapefruits and hating myself; I was a curvy girl and I decided to be ok with that.

In 2004 my mother and a friend both lost a good amount of weight on Weight Watchers. While I was impressed with how amazing they both looked I was more jealous of the power they had. They had changed something that I had convinced myself was immovable.

I started dieting to prove that I could control my body size. Once I began to lose weight I felt good and I realized that I wanted to lose a lot more than the original goal of 10 or so pounds. I gained a little understanding of why people became anorexic -- being able to change my physical form felt like magic. I’m obviously not advocating eating disorders but I was shocked to discover that I suddenly understood the appeal.

Ultimately losing weight was easy. It took time, but it wasn't hard work. I know no one wants to hear that, it’s supposed to be hard, if was easy we’d all be thin. Maybe it was easier for me because I had fewer emotional issues with food, or because I already liked vegetables, or because I have an amazing sense of internal guilt for someone with no religion. I figured out what I was eating (mostly through journaling), figured out what was good for me (mostly based on calories and Weight Watchers points) and stopped eating crap. Did I want to eat ice cream? Every minute (This is always true. Ice cream is the world’s most perfect food. There is never a time when I do not want to eat a scoop/pint/gallon/barrel full). I did not do any sort of formalized exercising. I live in New York City, I walk a lot. I used to go to the gym and while I'm sure it made me healthier it never made me skinny.

I weighed closer to 130lbs (and even saw the 120s once or twice) for a short while last November but eventually decided that 135lbs was a better weight for me, mostly because it was much easier to maintain and I believe that my body is happier here. I’ve since learned that a few people thought that the 130 me was a bit on the overly skinny side. This is astonishes me. I can believe that I am not at all chubby (though honestly it’s tough) but the idea that I could be too skinny is so foreign that it doesn’t seem possible. Changing your view of your own body turns out to be a lot tougher than changing the body itself. I don’t look at old pictures of myself and see a heavy girl, I just see me, an average girl who is moderately pretty but nothing special. I see her in the new pictures too. We’re used to our faces and (even more so) to the versions of ourselves that we believe in on the inside. Losing this weight has changed fewer things than one would have expected.

Things that have changed:

  1. Shopping is much easier, almost everything looks acceptable (if not amazing) on me.
  2. I am obsessed with food and constantly paranoid that I am eating poorly and will gain the weight back.

Things that have not changed

  1. I still think I look average sized
  2. I still do not have men fighting over me (I’m as surprised as you folks my ass is hot!).
  3. I still think my thighs look huge about 10% of the time (this delusion is clearly hard wired)
  4. I still do not hate myself.


Anonymous said...

Some day, I'm going to beat this out of you :)

Mike W.

Brianna said...

i'm so confused -- what are you beating out of me?