Monday, February 12, 2007

Changing the outside from within

My dieting narrative:

So, in short (and this will be the shortest statement of the narrative), I tend to ramble. I will go on and on, but so it goes (as Vonnegut would say in Cat's Cradle).

In second grade, students would sit in front of their classroom doors waiting for their teacher to come. My teacher, Ms. LaVerne, had a large bench for all her students to sit on. As usual, before class, I would sit next to my then friend, Sarah Lobdell. Sarah was always a petite child. I remember thinking that my thighs were so much larger than hers and not liking my thighs. But I did not diet. I don't think I really knew what a diet was. My mom was always on a diet. But like curse words and drinking alcohol, diets were for grown ups. I could diet when I was a grown up. Diets meant eating salads and not eating desert. And well, I could wait to grow up because I did not like salads.

Going for my regular check up years later, the doctor informed me that I was under the average height for my age group. I was strangely pleased with this fact. I enjoyed the idea of being smaller than other people. Starting middle school, I realized that I was not as tiny (weight wise) as the other girls. While I didn't start to limit my food intake, I did start watching what I wore. Fat. That's what I felt. I forgot about it some days, but I never liked for alot of skin to show. I wanted to wear baggy clothes. And I stopped feeling cute.

As middle school progressed, the feeling of ugliness and fatness went hand in hand. Now one might think that since my mother with her constant dieting and quest to be thin would project that feeling onto her three young daughters. However, I did not feel this was the case. Mom ate salads because she was a grown up and that is what grown ups did (this in and of itself can be examined and picked apart. My mom was insistent that we did not have access to a scale. She felt that constantly weighing ourselves would be negative for our self esteem. I do think that she had a point. But when a boy told me that I was ugly in sixth grade and I felt that no boys liked me, I "knew" in my head that it was because I was ugly (since my face was covered in acne and I was, according to me, overweight. I started playing soccer in seventh grade, and one of my teachers asked me if I had lost weight and that I looked good. It was such a high. I felt like a million dollars. I was validated, and the feeling immediately disappeared when I started eating. I felt that every bite was me gaining weight.

I try to take a philosophy that if my clothes fit than I am maintaining a good weight. Soccer kept me very in shape. While I was never tiny, I didn't feel quite so fat. I have a phobia of being picked up, not because I'm scared of heights. I don't want the person picking me up to think that I'm fat and heavy. I want to be little and light. I am 5'2", and I like being short. I know that part of this liking being short is that I'm perceived as light/tiny. I don't "diet" per se, but I do watch what I eat. I am very aware of my food intake, and yes, I do think of food as sometimes the enemy. I know where this information comes from. I am aware of where I'm getting these images. Dieting is no longer for grown ups in my head. I don't have to eat salad all the time because I am 21. I was shocked when my younger sister told me that when she was in elementary school, her and her friends used to go on "diets" in the cafeteria, i.e. eat their salads and not their cookies. She recalled that they inevitably forgot and would eat the cookies. But play "diet." That fact is a little scary.

I still think I'm heavy. I don't like being picked up. I have a fear of getting fat. My dieting narrative does not reflect what I eat, but how I behave to food. I enjoy food, I'm from south Louisiana everything is fried goodness. I still eat, but I work out. Maybe not every day. But I feel fat when I don't. I try to run off the weight. Food is good for one person to live and to live well. But that doesn't mean we view food in a healthy light. I think like most Americans I desire a diet to change my outside rapidly without changing my life style. I accept more today than I used to that my body is beautiful. I accept that this is who I am. But in some ways, it feels more like giving up and truly accepting and loving.

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