I have always been amazed at how weight and weight loss journeys have always been a “hush hush” topic. As a young girl, I learned quite quickly from my mother that women eat cottage cheese and tomatoes and never discuss their weight. I can remember my grandfather saying “Cottage cheese must make you fat because I have never seen a skinny person eating it”. I was aware of my weight at a very young age, my mother would come up with dessert alternatives for me and for her. We were grouped together as the black sheep, or should I say fat sheep, of the family.
But still it wasn’t discussed. Now I heard about it at school from A LOT of kids, but never discussions. I was not encouraged to be confident and I learned to shrink away into the background. I will call it the “Fat Sheep Fade to Black.” I do not blame my parents at all, this just wasn’t discussed as they grew up and I am sure they had no idea of how to approach me.
When I was 13, I attending a weight watchers meeting. We lined up and they would yell our weight over to the person recording the numbers. Before the meeting began, the leader asked even for their attention and introduced me as “the youngest person they shad ever had in their meetings.” Wow, thanks for that. I will include it on my headstone.
When I turned 18, things changed. Jane Fonda came on TV and told us we could get control of our bodies through simple exercises. She was gorgeous and skinny and had colorful leg warmers. The best part was that my father despised her and I loved playing her loud in the den because my father HAD to be so wrong! Of course, we later found out that Jane Fonda suffered from anorexia and bulimia for most of her younger life and she blamed her father’s comments for it! DANG! Another idol brought to their knees in my eyes.
Then came the 90’s and we were encouraged to stop eating any fats and to work out with weights. For the first time, I saw women on the different weight machines lifting, not just sitting and trying to look cute for the steroid king grunting next to them. I became obsessed, and not in a good way. Lunch was usually 5 pretzels and a slice of cheese – but only if I had lifted that morning. It was bizarre to me. I knew I was not eating properly but I was losing weight and I felt strong. Then came the diet pills. If I could lose this much weight by only eating one meal, imagine if I could curb my appetite for the whole day! And yet no one every said anything. Of course I hid what I did, but it was pretty obvious. Even my doctor who had prescribed the pills just said “You look fantastic – keep doing what you are doing”. And we wonder why we are so mentally screwed up with our bodies!
The 2000’s arrived and the South Beach Diet and the Master Cleanse raised their heads to see who bit. We all began drink cayenne pepper and maple syrup and lemon juice. I mean…COME ON! We literally search everywhere for the secret to weight loss. There HAS to be one right?
Well, finally in the last few years, I began to hear people talking about their weight. Not just their weight LOSS but their weight. The trauma, the incidents, the embarrassment and most importantly, the struggle. We began to see that it was more than just the number on the scale. We began to gather in groups and encourage and cry and laugh. I saw beautiful strong women and I learned that it was ok. It was ok to battle an addiction publicly. In fact, I prefer it.
By being open with people, I hope that I encourage others to be open. Keeping everything inside is not the answer, it absolutely is not. I am always amazed when people comment on how I can be so open. I want EVERYONE to be open. We were taught to be embarrassed of ourselves but that no longer holds true.
I am proud of who I am, I will not linger in the past, I will wake up each morning determined to be the most healthy version of myself I can be. Won’t you join me?