Monica Parker, Getting Waisted: a Survival Guide to Being Fat in a Society that Loves Thin, (2014), 281p
This is another one of the advanced reader copies I was graciously allowed to read from Net Galley. I specifically picked this title with a very honest, blunt, open blog post in mind – so be warned. It’s about to get pretty serious up in here. I actually finished this book about 3 days ago. Typically I blog directly after finishing. For this one, I needed a bit more time to process it and compose my post.
Getting Waisted is a memoir from a lovely Canadian media lady who has struggled with her weight for almost her entire life. It chronicles Parker’s foray into diet after diet, pills and procedures – essentially anything that she believes will help her lose weight and find happiness in herself. It’s honest, frank, and beautifully sad. It follows her through a bumpy childhood, difficult relationships with her parents, working her way through the dating world, and busting her butt in the television and film industry. Parker takes on society’s obsession with weight and thinness head-on. It hits a little close to home for me, so it’s hard not to compare myself to Parker in some ways.
Here’s my story.
I was always a thin, small child. So thin that in grade 8, while on an overnight class trip some of the mean girls at school took it upon themselves to tell the teacher supervisor that I was starving myself. Needless to say, I was not. This lead to an uncomfortable weekend of being forced to eat beside the teacher at meals, whispers behind my back, and nights crying myself to sleep. Kids can be kids, right? Maybe not, but I think that’s where my obsession with my body began.
I (luckily) didn’t struggle with my weight at all through my childhood, my first go at post-secondary education, or through my early twenties. This, despite, the amount of junk I ate, vegetables and fruit I didn’t eat, and amount of alcohol I consumed late in that period. Then I hit 24, quit my career, moved cities, and moved in with my boyfriend. I was in a city I didn’t know too well and unemployed for two months straight. I felt sad, lost, and confused. I started to “eat my feelings” with junk. I vividly remember finishing off a package of rainbow sprinkle cookies in about 26 hours. I also started matching the meals of my boyfriend, eating the same portions as he was. And again with the drinking. I finally went back to work, back to the career I thought I was leaving behind. I was miserable. Food was my best friend and my savior. By stuffing it in my face, I was smushing down all of the feelings along with it.
I gained about 15-20 pounds in roughly 6 months. I felt sick and tired and gross. Then the obsession kicked in. I decided that I wasn’t going to look or live like this anymore. This lead to a super intense, restricted meal plan of 1,200 calories a day and Jillian Michaels exercise DVDs to kick my ass. Anytime I ate anything that wasn’t on my “meal plan” I was plagued with guilt and sadness. It brought on crazy amounts of anxiety and I didn’t want to eat anything I had not prepared. I busted my ass for 3 months and lost all the weight. But let’s be real, that kind of life wasn’t sustainable. Shortly after my “dramatic weight loss” I headed back to university and starting working part-time at a chocolate shop (Smart, Laurie, real smart!). Needless to say, with all of the stress and chocolate lying around, the weight came back.
It’s been 3 years since then. I have fluctuate up and down with my weight probably 3 times since then. I go through the “eat everything in sight” phases, then fluctuate back to the “strict, boring eating” phases. I have been struggling with, what I jokingly call, eating my feelings. I’m trying to stay on a realistic, healthy path. It’s hard. I’ve started running and doing yoga, eating more fruits and vegetables, and not feeling guilty about what I eat. I’m trying to listen to my body. See how it reacts to certain foods and portions.
I reiterate again that it’s hard. It’s a daily struggle with me. I can so easily fall into obsessive behaviours again, whether it is eating too much or not really enough. I feel like most women deal with this. I feel like a lot of men deal with this too. We have such an unhealthy relationship with our bodies, with food. I’m not going to be all like “society this, society that”, but I feel like the media helps us to set such ridiculous expectations for ourselves. Should five, ten, twenty pounds really affect me mentally and emotionally the way it does? Clearly not. What I weigh does not change the type of person that I am. But sometimes it’s hard to focus on anything but that.
Sorry for the honest hour, but I feel like this was an important post.
Anyone want to share their story? It’s hard, but I swear I feel like a weight (har-har) has been lifted off my shoulders by sharing mine.
Happy reading –