Friday, October 06, 2006

Body Talk

I should really get around to checking the Poetry Thursday page a bit earlier than the Wednesday night before Thursday deadline. That said, I’ve been thinking about bodies, and my body in particular, a lot this week. So in a way I’ve been mulling over my homework anyway, although it hasn’t really inspired a poem just yet. My muse is lying collapsed in a corner, exhausted from running around trying to keep up with me…

Some of you reading this will know that I have lost a reasonable amount of weight this year after putting it since being diagnosed with Addison’s Disease and being prescribed corticosteroids a couple of years ago. Boredom eating in a job I didn’t really enjoy and dropping back on visits to the gym did the rest.

I don’t know exactly how much weight I’ve lost, but it’s in the realm of twelve kilos since January. I’ve lost it the healthy way – slowly through diet and exercise. I reached my ‘goal weight’ a few kilos ago and, although I’m not consciously trying to lose any more, because I’m running a lot at the moment, and because I’m still watching what I eat to a certain degree, the weight is still coming off.

Yesterday the annual “It’s spring, get off your butt and lose weight” marketing flyer from Weight Watchers arrived in my mail box. Normally this would be a cue for me to start wondering guiltily whether I should in fact go back to an organisation whose philosophy I disagree with, for the simple motivation of having to stand on the scales in front of someone each week. However this year I just laughed and tossed it aside.

When Hamish took my photo at the Coldcut gig on Friday night I hardly recognised myself. The last photo taken of me was back in June – at least five kilos ago. Did my face really look a little gaunt, or had I just not noticed the new angles? So that was my ‘tiny’ waist the woman in the second-hand clothing store had commented on last week. Where were my hips? Well, at least the cleavage is still there!

I’ve lost weight before – the last time around 15 kilos (at my heaviest I weighed around 20kg more than I do now), but this time around I’ve really had to get to know my body all over again. I think that’s possibly also because this time around I’ve got muscle. My back and legs have a whole new topography.

So here’s where I confess to an internal dilemma. I love this new body. I think it looks great, and I feel strong and sexy. I will openly admit that I was not happy with myself when I was larger. However I have spent enough time in feminist studies lectures to also have a certain investment in the whole ‘love yourself and not your weight’ philosophy. Am I buying into some patriarchal culture by wanting to reach my perception of my own physical ideal? Am I just a victim of the image industry? Last night I was reading through a number of blog entries that would argue that I am.

I have nothing against normal, curvy women’s bodies. I think it’s sad that women like Victoria Beckham are held up as physical ideals, and that the rest of us in comparison are left with the inevitable conclusion that there is something wrong with us. I do have a problem with the idea of being overweight to the point where it would affect my ability to carry out normal, everyday tasks, and to where it would endanger my physical health. I acknowledge that some people are happy at that weight. I also acknowledge that some people are not happy at that weight, but have other emotional issues which have led to them using food inappropriately. However I also hold my own self up to higher standards of physicality.

Intellectually I’m okay with the idea that, even when I was heavier, I was still perfectly healthy and as likely as not my curves (which are always classic hourglass) WERE attractive. But I didn’t FEEL as attractive as I do now. If I’d been happy with the way I was then it would have been fine to stay that way, but I wasn’t.

So here’s where it stands. I like being this weight. I like having muscle. I like being fit and I like being healthy, and I like that my husband loves the way I look right now. So sue me!

1 comment:

Ryan said...

Hello I found your blog thru a search on Addison’s disease… I like your about me info!! In April 2004 I was diagnosed with Addison’s disease…it was a life changing moment I recently wrote about it on my blog it’s in the archive under August 30th A little Buddha in our lives. New Zealand must be a wonderful place to run...I wish you great success on your future endeavors & keep up the great work!