I won’t lie to you; saying goodbye to the dream that you’ve been sold for so long is hard.
Saying “au revoir” to the repeatedly renewed hope, the excitement and the exhilaration that comes with the pursuit of being thin is terrifying – particularly when it has been the dominating focus of your entire adult life.
How intoxicating the promise of perfection can be, with its dizzying highs and congratulatory compliments as the scale shifts.
I see women get so drunk on the mere idea of it. The idea of the culturally manufactured image which we are aggressively sold, that thin is best and that if we just alter this one thing, this one simple scientifically equated thing, life will get so much better.
Over the next few posts I’ll dive into monologues of my experience with dieting in the hopes people ditch it, the way I have.
I struggle to believe that a woman as articulate at myself, as strong and fierce would allow myself to be such a sheep.
I thoroughly hope that whoever reads this takes something from it.
This isn’t to say that weight management clubs can’t or won’t provide women with community or solace in other women’s struggles similar to their own, I for one completely understand that perspective.
No, this is rather to say we should be connecting with one another for so many other worthwhile and compassionate reasons.
It is my opinion that a patriarchal system of oppression shouldn’t be the reason we feel the urge to fit an unrealistic and damaging template. I believe that we deserve one another’s friendship and support regardless of if we are subscribed to the norm of diet and repeat, or not.
Raise up your sisters, mothers, daughters and friends. We are worth so much more than this, I promise.
Here we go..
I’m sure every woman (and increasingly more men) who stumble across this blog will have raised their eyebrows in an agreeable manner by this point. We’ve all been there. We all get it.
Yes, we have all parked ourselves at our laptops or punchedthe lock-code into our phones and hit up our trusted friend, Google.
We have tentatively pressed the keys with our excited, sweaty fingers…
“Weight Watchers” or “Slimming World”.
We press search and await the orchestral music to accompany the opening of the Golden Gates.
Here it comes..!
Right there, with one simple click, is the remedy to every problem we’ve ever had and will ever have from this point on and oh, we can hardly fucking wait.
We pour over the information before us and feel smug. We just know that this time it’s going to be different. This time we’re going to lose the weight for good and everything we’ve been waiting for – photographs of us in bikinis, dresses, jeans, you name it; it’s a’coming because this time you mean it.
Ah, a personal favorite of mine.
This method of self torture means that not only do you get to sit in a room with women subscribed to the idea that they aren’t good enough, you also get to pay for the privilege!
You find your local group online, or through a friend and you mentally prepare yourself for the event. Usually this preparation includes exhibiting ‘last supper’ behaviours, which are tantamount to bingeing if I’m honest, and absolute ‘freedom’ to consume soon to be contraband food. You’ll not be able to do this again for a looooong ass time, so you take this as a chance to thoroughly enjoy it.
Full cheesecake with a side order of regret, anyone?
Today is the day (!!)
You’ll hold your breath, pat down your clothes and go in through the leaflet covered doors for the first time.
You’ll sheepishly follow the shuffling line to where the group leader will be waiting. She will extend her ‘after picture’ arms to accept your hard earned GBP as she welcomes you in. She will weigh you on her little black box of judgement while you smile crookedly, cringing inside as you see the numbers written down.
Once money has successfully exchanged hands, she will give you a sleeve full of glossy pamphlets and a prestigious plastic “I’m fat and now I pay weekly to be told so” membership card.
You’ll sit in a group with the other equally as nervous new starters and your leader will, with speed and enthusiasm levels cranked to 110%, introduce you to your brand new life.
The overall gist sounds something like this: “Ignore your internal hunger signals and ignore your cravings. This shit right here within the shiny pages of smiling (white) thin people is now all you need if you want to be perfect. Period”.
You’ll leave feeling pumped. You’re gonna be that woman in a tankini smiling on the front of the pamphlet in no time.
You’ll make a mental shopping list and without even realising begin planning ways to fit in the forbidden foods. Day one begins tomorrow and your membership to the ‘I am worthy of love, respect and success’ club is simply a few weeks of self-control away!
Week one draws to a close.
On the drive or walk to the community centre or church, you will fantasise about the amount you might have lost this week but more so about the ‘treat’ you’ve planned post-weigh-in. It can vary – kebab, sweets, trifle, chips. Whatever the weapon of choice for this week; it is all you can think about as saliva pools behind your bottom teeth.
You’ll quickly learn that it’s important to make sure you’ve got the appropriate clothing on every week and sensible to pee (and poo, if you’re super lucky and the toilets are suitably empty) prior to going in.
You’ll take a final scrutinising look at yourself in the mirror before you go to be judged by the black-box of shame and quietly pray to the Gravity-Gods that you’ve lost weight this week.
“Pleeeaaase, just a pound”
Clutching the glossy and now dog eared Shame-Log, you’ll walk in and greet the other women with an uncomfortable smile. You spot the regulars in their cliches, and hear the loud laughter, and voices. You soon learn that coats over chairs are there to ‘save seats’.
You’ll roll your eyes internally at the school-like behaviour, while quietly wondering why you’re not good enough to sit with them. Is this a plus-sized Mean Girls re-enactment?
In a bid to regain some sort of comfort and help ease the bruising on your fragile esteem, you will examine fellow club members in silence. You’ll measure yourself up against them and either end up smug or self conscious; depending where your gaze falls, either way – it sucks.
Now to approach the back of the line, standing beside that one member who you feel more comfortable talking to. She usually looks as terrified as you, and it brings you solace.
You’ll make small talk with said member and comment with a down-turned or jubilant face on how you’ve been ‘bad’ or ‘good’ this week. You will gleefully assign a moral value to yourself based simply on the foods you’ve chosen to consume over a seven-day fucking period and it will feel normal.
It’s your turn, you’re being called to the front of the line to stand on the black box of doom. You take a deep breath, hand the Shame-log to the woman, and smile apologetically as you take off your shoes. You look up at the ceiling while it does it’s thing. Once it stops flickering your eyes shoot down to the number. You take it in, and the feelings come…
You will either experience crippling disappointment if the number goes up, ‘meh’ if it stays the same and absolute euphoria if it has shifted down.
‘Well done, you lost half a pound’ is an example of the speech that comes from the weighing lady.
You will graciously accept with a smile and take back your Shame-Log. For a little while, you sit looking at the numbers feeling smug. You are chuffed with yourself. You followed the rules and you got results; but the emotion is short lived.
Eventually the line of ladies waiting to be weighed comes to an end. Everyone takes a seat and the leader begins to prep herself for her performance. She picks up an iPad, usually, and flicks around on her screen.
The funny part is that this woman sees so many fat women and men every week she can’t possibly remember everyone’s name.
She calls out ‘Julie’ or ‘Lynne’ from her list and her eyes desperately dart around the room to find the right chair. She is so good at pretending she gives a shit.
You sit waiting anxiously for your name to come up.. all the while, your half a pound seeming so feeble. Janet just before you managed to lose four pounds this week. How did she do that? Does she have a different rule book to you?
No, it’s definitely the same.
Well fuck me.
Now your half a lb seems ridiculous. You knew you should have saved all your ‘syns’ and not had that bite of birthday cake with your son on Wednesday. ‘You fat bastard’ scolds the internal dietician.
Now it’s your turn to speak.
“Siobhan, half a lb this week! What will you do different next week to give your loss a boost?”. She smiles, all of her teeth on display, her eyes wide with Red Bull Zero levels of enthusiasm.
You’ll feel words fall out of your mouth. Self depreciative, almost remorseful about your pitiful half a lb. You’ll make a pact that next week you’ll lose at least a lb, even two! She claps at you like a preschool teacher and finally moves on to the next victim.
You breathe deeply as the dozens of eyes in the room shift onto the next woman. Sweaty palmed and stomach twisted, you are so glad that’s over.
The meeting draws to an end and you gather up your things. You balance the new supply of ‘healthy’ snack bars and sugar-free gummies on top of your Shame-Log and go back to the car.
What a positive experience, you’ll think to yourself as you pull out of the carpark.
I am so glad I get to do this for the rest of my life.
Until next time,