‘My shoulders are so bony I look ill. But I’d still rather be dead than fat’ is the headline in an article in The Mail today. In the piece, recovering (or not so) anorexic Liz Jones talks about how women have an unhealthy relationship with their bodies and how the results of a study carried out in America have found that one in four women would rather be depressed than overweight and one in six would rather be blind. Really?Blind? Really? Studies like this break my heart. Articles like this break my patience and will to live.
Liz talks about how happy and elated she felt in a shop changing room when a size 8 dress is too big for her. She also has this to say’ ‘Everything has been ruined by my desire to be thin: I could never get pregnant; I suffered terrible mood swings; ruined my skin and destroyed every relationship with my fear of exposing not only my body, but my crazy rituals.’ And yet women the world over push themselves to the limit because that clothes label is just more important than our long term health could ever be. Women are willing to starve themselves into non existence for the fleeting high a single digit label brings
Women are obsessed with their bodies. Everyone I know has been on a diet, is on a diet or is thinking about a diet in some way. Everyone practices some kind of abstinence or uses a crazy kind of logic to get them through a day; ‘I’ll have a biscuit now but won’t have a big dinner’ or ‘ I’ll skip lunch so I can drink tonight.’ It is so fucked up. Our relationships with food are fucked up. We use it as a weapon to punish ourselves with.
On twitter the other night I noticed some comments made between people I follow; one said she used to have to spend hours a day in the gym to maintain a size 8 figure. Another mentioned how she heads to the gym five times a week in order to keep her size 10 body in check. My initial reaction was ‘ fuck that, no way!’ my second that if it takes that much to maintain, it isn’t a very maintainable, natural body shape for you to be. And yet we don’t care. We set ourselves these unrealistic standards that we can only fail. So when we let ourselves down we continue the cycle of self loathing. What happens if we don’t make it to the gym? What do we do then? Start starving ourselves to maintain those bodies? When does it stop?
Every day we see celebrities in their ever shrinking glory. We read articles praising a celebs beach body or raving about how wonderfully toned and lithe a woman looks so it is no bloody wonder that we then take a long look in the mirror and feel inadequate. Celebrities are paid a fortune to look that way; paid a fortune to manipulate their bodies into shapes that can’t last through diets that are unhealthy, dangerous and irresponsible. It freaks me out that we believe it comes so naturally to people. Sure there are naturally thin people out there. There are also those who survive on diet coke and cigarettes and the high they get from a film review. The model Amber Le Bon recently admitted that during her modelling days she survived on a ‘bread roll’ occasionally and little else. Great. And yet hers was a body to be celebrated and emulated? Celebrities who say ‘but I love fish and vegetables! Honestly,I never crave chocolate!’ are lying in my eyes. They do but they crave the limelight and fear the media glare more. When a women is torn apart for daring to put on a pound or two like Jessica Simpson, Natalie from Eastenders or Kerry Katona or when a woman is championed because you can see her ribcage then it sends out a message. And the message is that to be beautiful, you must look like this.
I really agree with Liz where she says ‘Our appetites have been so tinkered with that, for the vast majority of us, food is a treat or a sin.’ How true is that? How fucking messed up is that? We treat ourselves to dessert and hate ourselves through a cupcake, we guilt trip our way through a take away – it’s all so warped and sad. What happened to just eating for enjoyment without any of the bollocks that comes with it?