Week 12: Weight

I’m not sure who needs to hear this, this week, but if you’re in a spin about the prospect of gaining weight during lockdown, please try not to feel like a bad person for this being one of your genuine concerns among the many that have been popping up over the last few months.

We do after all, live in a society where famous people like Adele losing weight makes national newspapers. We do after all, live in a society where it’s okay for public commentarians to fight over who is “dealing” with Adele “finally” losing the weight the best.

Some groups say they’re sad she lost the weight. SAD!  How has someone who you do not know on a personal level losing weight make you sad?

Some groups say it’s anti-feminist. Some groups say it must be a sign that Adele is deeply unhappy. Some are genuinely proud that she has “finally lost the weight.”

Some groups are congratulating Adele in a way that is as patronizing as telling a woman who doesn’t want kids that some day, something will just click. Her hormones will come for her like a wave to a shore and she will FINALLY do what is biologically and societally meant for her. She will have the babies! She  will FINALLY emulate what it means to be a woman by realizing that it is her job to mother children, all the time while maintaining a hot body, of course.

Mothers will be expected to bounce back to their former bodies, hopefully in a few months following one of the most physically testing experiences of their life. No one is explicitly saying anything but you know it’s expected.

You know they’re thinking it because 2020 has us all, on some level, image and/or health obsessed.

The obsession is easy to maintain. It’s like drinking alcohol or smoking ciggarettes, you can do both in broad daylight and no one is going to comment.

Health isn’t heroin. Getting your $17 dollar smoothie or going to some hot yoga soul cycle kettlebell banaza is more likely to be met with well dones as opposed to are you okay huns.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I adore eating well and exercising. I like feeling glowy and strong, but, lockdown has highlighted to me that I still maintain a complete and utter phobia of “getting fat.”

I know that’s not a woke thing to say and 90% of my personality knows that there are bigger and brighter things in this world to care about. It’s important to note though that you never really stop being anorexic, just as you never really stop being an alcoholic. Even if you’re in remission.

A few weeks ago, I popped on a pair of black skinny jeans, and I had two arses. One that sits behind the back pockets and one that sits under the pockets. You could call it an “underarse”, something that kind of resembles an overflowing cup of coffee. The jeans are very tight and I have red marks on my hips by the end of the day.

My other jeans fit fine. These will fit again at some point.

This is not the end of the world, objectively.

Woke, non phased me would say uh oh, better chill on the sourdough a little. Pandemic, very phased me, took it on an extremely personal level and spiralled a bit, to be honest.

Spiral always sounds like some sort of breakdown. It wasn’t a breakdown but it did feel really shitty and led to about 6 hours of self deprecation and crankiness.

That’s just the honest version. In my humble opinion, very few of us are likely to admit how we ACTUALLY feel about our bodies and their fluctuations and changes but I’ve seen enough content to know that the majority of us are deeply insecure. These are not feelings that are exclusively for ex-anorexics.

Growing up, I was inundated with pictures of Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Alexa Chung and Fearne Cotten. America’s Next Top Model was hooked to my veins. I wanted to be thin because thin was sexy. I didn’t know what photoshop was. I was going after something that doesn’t really exist.

Today the imagery is much more diverse, but I’m not convinced that this diversity has changed things. Not when I’m getting toxic push notifications regarding Adele FINALLY LOSING THE WEIGHT.

This issue is bigger than us and it’s not going to be fixed …on a WordPress blog but based on my own experiences, I want to share some wisdom on weight and how to talk about it.

If your loved has lost weight

If your loved on has lost a healthy amount of weight in a healthy way, do not say things like “You’re so skinny, I’m so jealous!” “Omg, you’re teeny!” “You look like a little bird!”

If your loved one has lost a healthy amount of weight, say “You look really healthy and fantastic, well done you!” Or don’t comment at all.

When my diet was still in the non clinically dangerous zone, comments on looking so thin and in the same sentence, looking so great were like petrol for driving the delusions. Just be careful with how you deliver your compliments, you never really know what’s going on in a loved one’s head.

If your loved one has lost too much weight

If a loved one genuinely looks underweight. Do not take it upon yourself to be Dr. Phil or Oprah. Even if you are a psychologist, you are not your friend’s psychologist. It is not your job to Coldplay fix them. If you start chastising them, they are going to close themselves off to you. I can guarantee if you start giving out to them, they will not take it well and they will ultimately not talk to you honestly.

If you know, and I mean, know, that they are being unhealthy about how they are losing weight, ask questions like “How are you feeling?” “Is everything okay, is there anything you want to talk about?” “I just want you to know I love you and I’m here for you if you ever want to chat.”

Do not say things like “Jesus you’re gone way to skinny.” “What are you eating???” “You don’t look great?” “What’s wrong with you?”

The more confrontational you are, the worse you’re going to make them feel. Talk to them the way you would like to be talked to.

If your loved one has put on weight

If your loved one has put on weight, do not and I repeat, do not say anything about this unless they come to you first.

During my ED recovery, I pretty much doubled in size in five months and it was probably the worst I have ever felt and ever will feel. My metabolism was fudged and it all piled on super quickly. I really felt awful about myself.

Once I was allowed go back to the gym, the gym owner looked me up and done and very cautically said “Jesus, what happened to you?”

I left immediately, cried the whole way home and never returned to that gym.

This is not an orchestra of a tiny violins and I’m not looking for pity here but if that’s something I still vividly remember 4/5 years later, it illustrates how damaging one tiny comment can be. I’m sure he didn’t mean it to sound as judegemental as it did.

If a loved one has come to you saying that they are feeling negative about their body or that they want to lose weight. Tell them they always look fabulous to you, they need a boost, not confirmation. The majority of the time, friends notice weight gain before you do, we’re all far too self involved to notice a few extra pounds on our friends. So be sound, ask them why they feel crappy. If you’re a sporty spice, ask if they want to come along to a gym class or walk with you. If you live together, suggest making new healthy recipes together.

Be a ray of positivity here because that’s what your loved one needs.

***

Disclaimer: I am obviously not a psychologist, but the above is a better way to talk to people about their weight. Do not take the Adele approach. If your loved one is struggling with either side of the scales and you are worried about them, do not project onto them. Tell them they need help from someone who is more qualified than you but you are here for them, hold their hand, be a friend.

***

Things I’m grateful for this week

  • Autumn’s leaves on Melbourne’s floor
  • Sunrise runs
  • Love stories with Dolly Alderton
  • Glossier skin tint
  • Bed socks
  • Bunting
  • Pop sugar kickboxing
  • Yoga with Adriene
  • Smooshed salted caramel bites
  • The Ordinary

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