Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010
We are a weight obsessed society. It’s everywhere; from TV to magazines to bloody facebook. Lose 5kg in one week! Dance yourself slim! Eat only cabbage soup and you too can look like me! Negative calorie water, YESS! Celebrities (who seem to be the body ideal for many) have abs just two weeks after giving birth, lest they be seen on the cover of a magazine looking less than svelte. And so there are programs for us regular schlumps so we too can look as good as those celebrities! HOORAY FOR WEIGHT WATCHERS!!
Look, here’s the thing. I just can’t get behind Weight Watchers. I have grown up with the whole thing drilled into me from a very early age (my aunt has been a WW fanatic for nearly all of my life) and knowing my personality, I’m sure this makes me totally biased against the whole program. I get that. And perhaps it’s just the way my aunt did the program, but I cannot see where the value lies, other than making a person feel inadequate about their current size and enhancing their need to fit into one particular beauty ideal. And when I see a company that whose entire business revolves around losing weight, of making people count points towards everything they eat, of receiving extra points if you exercise…. it honestly makes me think of someone with disordered eating. Because those things I just mentioned? They are all signs of an eating disorder.
And yes, I am fully aware of the confidence it can give individuals, but I don’t know if we as a society should be congratulating people merely for losing weight. Doesn’t that just perpetuate the cycle of thinner = better? Beauty should not revolve around weight. Beauty is confidence; beauty is standing up for yourself; beauty is the ability to say you are beautiful and really mean it, regardless of what “society” tells us.
My aunt (bless her heart) gave me a couple of WW points books when I was in my teenage years. I remember being totally saddened when I had something like 18 points allotted to me for one day, and a slice of cheesecake was 17 points. Given my penchant for cheesecake, you can imagine that I didn’t follow the whole WW ideology for too long. I get that they don’t promote eating only cheesecake in a day, for what it’s worth. But why even give people the option of points if they can’t “spend” them how they see fit?
I know quite a few people who either participate in or agree with the idea of WW, and far be it from me to tell people what to do. I think a lot of people go for the community WW gives them – you get to meet people who share similar stories; you can commiserate with their trials and celebrate with their triumphs. I totally get that – I just wish there were groups available to people that don’t intertwine someone’s value with what they weigh. Focus on healthful eating, focus on exercise, but fuckdammit. Stop focusing on your weight as an indicator of your worth. You are more than a number on a scale.
Have you had a positive WW experience, or know someone who has? Do you think this business (and others like it) are a good, bad or neutral thing? Am I totally off-base with my opinions? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!
Monday, July 13th, 2009
I don’t remember exactly how old I was. I was probably six or seven years old, maybe eight at the most. I grew up in Burleigh on the Gold Coast, and in the mid 80s there was only one shopping centre nearby for your regular weekly shopping. I remember that there used to be a bookshop out the front of Woolies, which is where Mum used to do her weekly shopping.
I remember this one day fairly well, and it all came back to me last night. We had been to the shops and we must have wandered into the bookshop. There was a tape there, called “Fit or Fat”. I wanted it. No, I needed to have it. I begged Mum to buy it for me (remember, I’m under eight). She tried to dissuade me, telling me that it wasn’t going to help me not be fat any more. Eventually she relented (I was a hyperactive child, so it was probably just easier for a cheap audiotape).
There I was, a child, knowing that it was wrong to be fat and that I needed something to help me be fit. I was defective, I was ugly and I wanted out. I have tears welling up remembering that day, and how… sad isn’t strong enough, but how sad it is that such a young boy felt the need to be different. I felt so uncomfortable in my body and so unhappy.
I started weight watchers when I was in Year 7 at school. I lost weight too, by eating celery sticks with peanut butter, or Weet Bix with Vegemite. This was before the points system, where I was required to count the number of serves of protien, vegetable, fat, etc that I had eaten. I was weighed, just like the rest of the adults, and went to the meetings. Oh how horrible it all was, looking back on it.
That wasn’t my last foray with Weight Watchers. I think it was in 1999/2000. Actually yes it was. I lost 20kgs. I went to the shops one day at Australia Fair and I remember standing out the front of K-Mart and ringing my Mum excitedly (My mum and I are very close). “I can fit! I can fit into an XL!!!” I was so excited and happy.
Forever since then I dreamed of fitting back into an XL. An XXL would have been ok, because at least I could shop at some normal shops.
I’d love to write “Oh and now I’m just awesome and never get depressed by this” but I think it’s important that I say that I’m not there yet, not all the time. Many days I’m just happy to be who I am, but some days are harder than others. I think that’s normal for anyone, no matter their size. You find your “issues” and get depressed about them, but then get over it and grow.
Ugh, that sounded almost like a self-help guru. Save me.
I got off point, which is good. It means I wrote what came to me, not what I planned. I had meant to play around with the title of the audio tape, and say that being Fit and Fat is possible. Well, I’ve done that, but I think I’ll get into it more another day.