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Sunday, September 19, 2004

Weight? Wait!

Until I was 23, I was slim. Periods of anorexia nervosa meant that for some of that time I was more thin than slim, and received very mixed messages from the world around me.

Those who knew me well cautioned me about how ill I was and looked, while those who were more passing acquaintances complimented my then emaciated figure. I, of course, chose to only pay attention to the latter, enjoying the attention and praise.

Nowadays, four years on, things are quite dramatically different. Firstly, nowadays I eat. I enjoy food and do not allow myself to submit to any inner voices berating me for being 'weak' or 'greedy'. Secondly, I am now overweight. Medication I have to take has resulted in significant weight gain, and adding that to the result of the anorexia I used to have on my metabolism, means that my body now, compared to my body then, bear little resemblance to each other.

The medication-induced weight gain occurred remarkably quickly, and it took me a long, long time to adjust to living in what was seemingly a stranger's body.

It wasn't just that I was heavier - rather, my whole body shape had changed, people's reactions to me had changed, the shops where I could buy clothes had changed, as had the styles of clothes I felt comfortable wearing.

Fortunately, there had been a long enough passing of time since my last period of disordered eating that, although I found my 'new body' somewhat difficult to adapt to, I wasn't especially traumatised by the sudden and rapid weight gain, as I am sure I would have been had it happened earlier.

I still regularly did double-takes, though, shocked at what I saw and didn't recognise when I caught an unexpected glimpse of myself in a mirror. Who is that round person?!

I had been flung from the world of the thin person (Top Shop, short skirts, can eat cake without people tutting) to the world of the fat person (badly fitting clothes, random disapproval from strangers, outraged stares if you dare to even think about eating cake), and I was secretly quite enjoying it!

I think this was, at least in part, because I could quite justifiably absolve myself from any responsibility for the weight gain. Within the mental health community which I am part of, the mere mention of the medication involved provokes knowing nods and mutterings of others' 3 or 4 stone put on while taking the same pills.

Nowadays I know where to shop for clothes which will fit, I eat as I please, and I am pretty damn comfortable with the body I'm living in. But even that in itself can lead to horrified reactions from (invariably thin) people who sincerely believe that I should hate my body, and constantly work against it to make it 'fit' the small sizes which are, it seems, the only ones which are socially acceptable.

Quite simply, I refuse to do this. I refuse to starve, and I refuse to apologise for my weight. More to the point, I will not apologise for not apologising!

We all have the right to live in the body we live in, without feeling a societally-imposed need to battle against, and hate it. I have gone from anorexic and underweight, to big and overweight, and for that, I refuse to apologise!

2 comments:

Anonymous said...
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bikal said...
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