Monday, October 25, 2010

Weight Watchers

My friend and I were driving around town the other day when we saw a young homeless girl begging for money in the median of the road.

We remarked how it's somehow sadder when someone so young is homeless. What's the story there? What was so bad at home that the street is better?

We remarked how skinny she was. She said she must be 100 pounds.

No, I said, she's not that little. Maybe 105 or 110. 

Well, she said, people must lie more than I thought then. She had a friend who claimed to be 100 pounds, but was not even as thin as the girl we'd seen.

And I thought about the models I knew when I lived in Hollywood who, even as teeny as they were at 110 and 115, would lie. Would shave 10 and 15 pounds off their weight. These impossibly thin, ridiculously tall women who still felt they had to lie. To appear as skinny as possible.

The world of fashion is a different place altogether and I watched girls get crushed under the weight of it (no pun intended).

But what I'm thinking about today is not fashion. I'm thinking about real women. We're trained to shave down our weight.

I even do it. Without even thinking about it. Most days, I'm around 140 (that's the real number). I fluctuate throughout the month. During my period, I'm around 145 maybe. In all honesty, I don't worry about the number on a daily basis. And I don't believe in owning a scale. I think that's just masochism.

But if you asked me, I'd say 130. Automatically. It's my automatic response. It's what it says on my drivers's license.

I always meet guys who think they want to pick me up. Prove their manly strength, I guess. I always protest. Say I'm heavier than I look.

No way, they say, you're tiny. What are you? 110? 120? 

130, I say. Because wouldn't the real number be too high a difference from what they thought?

Then they struggle trying to pick me up anyway. Why don't they ever learn?

Or maybe they were just being kind. Lowballing drastically low so as to save their asses. Weight is a sensitve issue for women. No wonder men want to guess low.

When I worked in lingerie, I always told my male clients to buy smaller. She may have to return it anyway, but no woman wants to know you thought she was larger than she is. Always buy smaller.

And why? Why is lowballing my weight by 20 pounds the kind thing to do? Why are we obsessed with the number on the scale? Why do all women want to be a size small no matter what their size?

Hell, I'm a small. On top. My ass is a happy large thankyouverymuch. Truthfully? Totally honest and truthfully? I like my ass. If I want anything to change, I'd like to be more symmetrical without losing my ass. I'm talking potential extra poundage here (granted, in the chest, and I'm not willing to ever take matters in my own hands) simply for the sake of ease of shopping and how clothes fit.

Oh to be able to buy dresses. Or a one piece swim suit. That would be heaven.

But that's just not the way it is. And it has nothing to do with my poundage. Nothing. Zip, zippo, zilch.

I want to know when the number of pounds a woman hauls around became the marker for beauty. For status. It seems to me that we're a rich culture. With more than enough food. (Excuse me while I get a little nerdy) Most cultures historically marked the upper classes by fat. The rich could afford to eat. The poor were skinny.

So when did this shift?

Now our rich are thin and the poor are fat. Or something like that. Or thin isn't a marker of class or income, but a marker of desirability now.

In fact, can I quote one of my fave-oh-rite authors now to help me make my point?

Standards of beauty in every ear are things that advertise, usually falsely: "I'm rich and I don't have to work." How could you be a useful farmhand, or even an efficient clerk-typist us you have long, painted fingernails? Four-inch high heels, like the bound feet of Chinese aristocrats, suggest you don't have to do anything efficiently, except maybe put up your tootsies on an ottoman and eat bonbons. In my grandmother's day, women of all classes lived in fear of getting a tan, since that betrayed a field worker's station in life. But now that the field hand's station is occupied by the office worker, a tan, I suppose, advertises that Florida and Miami are within your reach. Fat is another peculiar cultural flip-flop: in places where food is scarce, beauty is three inches of subcutaneous fat deep. But here and now, jobs are sedentary and calories relatively cheap, while the luxury of time to work them off is very dear. It still gives me pause to see an ad for a weight-loss program that boldly enlists: "First ten pounds come off free!" But that is about the size of it, in this strange, food-drenched land of ours. After those first ten, it gets expensive.
-Barbara Kingsolver, High Tide in Tucson 

At this point I do want to go on record saying that I'm not endorsing obesity or saying we should all eat ourselves to death while we abandon our bodies to gluttony and sloth. What I'm saying is the social norm  right now isn't about health. Even though it claims to be.

If it were about health, we wouldn't be lying about our weight all the time. If it were about health, we'd be teaching young girls to eat balanced meals instead of maintaining a low poundage for beauty's sake. If it were about health, men wouldn't be scared of guessing a woman's weight or buying too large a size. If it were about health, we'd hold the same standard for men as for women.

And men are ridiculed for weight and beauty standards too. But women are plagued by that number on a scale.

That's what I find sad.

This post has gotten remarkably long and rambly. I could write much, much more on the subject too. But I'll stop there. Because I think I made my point.

Let's step off the scales. And go grab a bite to eat. I'll meet you for dinner. I'm buying.

Then I'll meet you tomorrow for a run. Because I'll probably cave and get the tiramisu. It's my favorite. But that means I have to run longer. That's the deal I made with my ass.

19 comments mean you love me:

Diet Starts Tomorrow said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Couldn't have said it better myself! I never ever get on that scale - it's evil. Let's go get some tiramisu together and make fun of people that count calories.

KLZ said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

It's my heart I worry about more than my weight.

But I'm still not exercising enough.

Elly Lou said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Well said. But some mornings, regardless of whether I'm doing it for my health or that pair of skinny jeans I notices I've started spilling out of, this girl just wants to eat a snickers in bed and skip the jog.

Anonymous said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Very well said. Completely agree. I still struggle with not caring about the number on the scale - especially since having baby #2. I tell myself to care more about how I feel and how my clothes fit, but I don't always listen. Everything is always so much easier said then done.

Lizzy said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I havent jumped back on the exercise train since you know who left. I will tho eventually.
I'm 180 =P

HO said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Wow - this post hit home! I have an unhealthy obsession (okay - many levels and degrees of OCD) with weighing myself - morning and night. I log it daily (twice) and I log everything I eat and drink. If I eat 12 m & m's I log it... I think when the day comes I finally get over it - I will feel free and liberated to pour my energy into other things.

Andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Diet- hah! you got it!

KLZ- I think it's all about moderation. :)

Elly Lou- I'm a sucker for dessert for breakfast

Biz- I use my jeans as a measurement too! best way, I think.

Lizzy- forget that number, gorgeous. you'll feel good again soon.

Ho-exactly! we need to be free of the scale! :) good luck!

Bitter Betty said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Oh to live in a society that doesn't care about the number on the scale! Wasn't Marilyn a little curvy? I'd be ok with my pre-Ethan weight, which was still heavy, but more curvy than flabby. Because really? I dislike working out, and I love me some cookies, and pizza, and hamburgers...mmmmm. Damn society! I'd love to be considered rich because I'm a bit gluttonous!

Megan (Best of Fates) said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Isn't lying about weight a weird impulse? I'm usually cool with my weight (143) but if the conversation starts out with the other person being disparaging about their weight and it's more than 20lbs less than mine, I'm probably going to slide into fudging. Which is so strange, as it's not like everyone can't see how much you weigh without needing to hear a number.

Jackie T said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Ugh! I've been really self-conscious about weight recently. Part of it is that since I did my first half marathon in May, the amount of exercise I do has been lessening each month (but the amount of hours at school i've been logging has been increasing exponentially... ok, not really exponentially, but it has been increasing). On top of that, well, for one, CO is the HEALTHIEST state in the nation. Seriously. And most days I think this is awesome because it means that I get my ass out to the park to run, or I bike to work, and I'm more conscious of my HEALTH. But I'm not going to lie, 12 hour days 6 days a week have broken me, and I have taken to eating reese's and tv dinners and studying after my long days.
On top of CO being the healthiest though, I work in the *health care field* and apparently, while people were too busy caring about their health when it came to hours or stress levels, they apparently were very healthy otherwise. I, on the other hand, weighed 130 in junior high. And last year I bought a scale because I had ditched being overweight for being obese and I knew I needed a change. And for a long time, I was fully content with my weight (I made sure to work myself down into the high-normal BMI level, where I have proudly stayed for 9 months), but now, I have to remind myself that my BMI is within normal limits. It disgusts me. I'm wearing clothes that I was not able to wear for 4-5 years, I got down to my high school weight, and because I compare myself daily, I feel fat. It's really frustrating.
And while I've committed to running every other day for the rest of the year, I've also thought about how I can get just 15 pounds off... which is probably how much I weighed when I started high school (and a very healthy weight, but still... I just want to be happy being me).

we hate you. love, us said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates


Great post (as usual). It's so funny, I started thinking about it and I totally lie about my weight too. Why do we do that? I'll totally meet you for dinner. You get the tiramisu and I'll get the cheesecake with berries and whipped cream on top. And then I'll join you for the running later.

F said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I have a funny story about the weight on my drivers' license. I weigh 150. I'm about 6' tall, and I don't really think I need to lose weight. I have no problem saying I weight about 150, some days more.

Anyway, I went to the DMV to update my drivers' license and the guy said "Why did you put 150 as your weight?" and I said "Because that IS my weight."

So he went and did his thing, took my photo, and when I went to get my print out of my temporary license, the fucker had changed my weight to 135! He thought he was so clever about it too, he pointed to it as if to say "See? I'm helping your self-esteem!" Why did he feel the need to do that? Grrr.

Anyway, great post again!


Tonya said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

So so true!!! I always think, as an intelligent person (or so I tell myself) that I'm above the whole weight issue, that I won't cave in to the beautiful pic of Heidi Klum looking svelte in some tiny, body hugging dress, but as soon as pizza or a donut sits in front of me it's all I can think about. Granted, I still devour them in 1 minute flat but I just wish I could leave the guilt in the trash where it belongs.

Simone said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

i always lie about my age. i say i'm older so people say "No way!". but with my weight, i'm brutally honest. and i beat myself up if i'm 5 pounds over my desired weight. then i usually pig out to make myself feel better. then i hate myself again. it's a fantastical vicious circle we can thank the media for providing.

Andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

ohmigosh all the comments! you guys flatter me.

BB- mmm pizza!

Jackie- I don't know if my high school weight is a good goal. I was pretty teeny.

B&V- cheesecake! so worth the extra run.

Flora- I cannot believe your story! that guy is a jackass. why shave down your weight for you? what does that imply? urf.

Tonya- I know right? why is guilt so heavy?

Simone- that's interesting. something I may explore for another blog.

Natalie said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I know I need to do more exercise. I do about zero right now. It's just not healthy to be so lazy, and I'm setting a terrible example for my kids. Now if I could just find some willpower....

Andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

you'll get there! don't be so hard on yourself. :)

Sandra said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

The end part, where you are making a deal with your ass so you can eat the tiramisu (I know it was metaphorical), but still is a perfect example of how we justify eating the good stuff.
This post made sense on every level, and it was comforting to read that my ass isn't the only one who makes deals with me so I can have the Pillsbury cookies.

Andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Sandra, so glad you enjoyed it! thank you! now go have a pillsbury cookie. :D

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