Saturday, December 5, 2009

Obsession: For Women

*Sometimes I write a post that is rather incoherent and doesn't make sense like it makes sense in my head. This is one of those posts. I wrote it Saturday night...late...and then saved it trying to figure out whether or not to post it or not. But today, I said what the heck! See if you can muddle through my musings.

I just watched a documentary called America The Beautiful. It takes a look at America's obsession with beauty (although really it is just about the world's obsession with beauty). It caused thoughts to start percolating in my little ol' head...

The film maker opens with a question. Who benefits from this unreal expectation of what a woman should look like? Who benefits from making us feel ugly? This is an interesting question, and while we have discussed this before I am sure...I had never heard it asked quite like that. When you stop to think about it, a lot of people benefit from us thinking we need to fix ourselves. The makers of shampoo, lotion, clothes, perfume, Spanx, diet fads...

And then the scary thought hit me. Am I a hypocrite?

I know that ultimately we chose to have WLS for HEALTH reasons...right? But how many times do I blog about how I am feeling healthier? Usually our favorite updates are weight or size related. And I don't think I will stop posting about those things...because come on...they make me happy...but I think I will start making an effort to highlight some of the health non scale victories. Sarah had a great example of one the other day.

The film focused a great deal on models and touched briefly on anorexia and bulimia. So, story time children. Come gather on the carpet around Mama Amy while I share. I don't know if all of us have experienced dabbling in bulimia or anorexia, but I think that for my generation at least...a great deal of us have tried starving ourselves or throwing up to lose weight. But because I don't know if that statement is statistically based, I can only share my story. I do not want anyone to think that I am making light of what is a serious medical disorder. Or that I am endorsing anorexia or bulimia in anyway. And I hesitate to write this for fear of misinterpretation....but there has always been a part of me that envied those girls that could resist eating or embrace puking.

Does that make sense?

When I was younger, I really believed that it would be better to die trying to be skinny then live being fat. And once, for like a week...I tried to throw up everything I ate. I would binge and eat everything I could and then go stick my finger down my throat to make it all come up. Turns out...I didn't like it. One of the most vivid memories of this time was gorging myself on wedding cake and then puking it up right after. Huge chunks of cake. I was 19 at the time and it was one of my desperate attempts to be thin. I used to search ProAna or ProMia sights. If you have never heard of them, ProMia is code for pro bulimia and ProAna is code for pro anorexia. On these sites you can find the most disturbing stories, pictures, and profiles of girls and women dying to reach a make-believe goal. You can find pictures usually filed under the category of "Thinspiration". They are of uber thin models. Most of them have been photo shopped to make the models even skinnier.

I feel at times I am a walking contradiction. For example, while I think it is horrible to look at photoshopped pictures of models made to look like Holocaust survivors for means of inspiring women who have a serious eating disorder...I love watching the Victoria's Secret Fashion show (which you can watch in it's entirety by clicking on the link). Seriously. I love it. And my most favorite part of a pageant? The swimsuit section. I love to look at these beautiful bodies and wish that I could look like that too. Oddly enough, it is not depressing to me to watch these things. It motivates me. And plus...they are hot and have ridiculously long legs.

In some weird and twisted way, possibly my positive self-esteem was spurred on my failed attempts to puke up my food. It was too hard, I didnt like it, I liked I better learn and like myself the way I am.

Did you hear last week about the Former Miss Argentina who died of complications while getting butt implants? You can read the article here. Kinda scary. I bet she had a butt we would have loved to call our own!


  1. I can SO relate to this post... Maybe because I'm young, but my health hadn't really started to... Make me nervous until my scary pre-op test results. So much of the band and my celebrations are, like yours, scale or clothing related. I am so proud to say exercise is a big part of my life now, so that's health.

    I've dabbled hcore in the ED side of things. I really feel like I had an ED before, I was a bulimic who just didn't purge all the time. The feelings of an overweight individual who can't stop binging and those of an underweight person who can't bring herself to consume calories are so similar it can be eerie... Anyways, great post Amela. Love you.

  2. I can totally relate to your line "envied those girls that could resist eating or embrace puking." I've thought the same thing from time to time! VERY interesting post! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Okay, I can relate on every single level. I go back and forth on the idea of "I need to love me for me and any shape or size of me" and then, wow it is great to lose weight and not be so fat anymore. That is all about what I "look" like and not about health. I also need to try to focus on the health and less on the size.

  4. Not a hypocrite at all - very honest and I think we can all relate.

    The problem is it's hard to separate the health vs. looks parts of being overweight. Let's face it - fat is not pretty. It's just not. And everything is so intermingled that it's not like you can just say, "I'm doing this to be healthier" when the day-to-day realities of being skinnier are easier to recognize and appreciate (no seat belt extender, not sweating, etc.) than "hmmm, maybe I avoided a heart attack today because I lost weight." If that makes any sense.

    Great post!


  5. Thanks Amy, excellent post. I dabbled in almost-anorexia in high school, but quit when I passed out on the field hockey field! Never tried bulimia because that was my mom's thing, and who wants to be like their mother? (Ugh, it really grossed me out and was scary). Ever since then it has been good old fashioned binge eating/dieting disorder for me....Until now, of course!

    I do think it is really sad today's teenagers and young women have the internet to "help" them be anorexic or bulimic. So, so sad. It can only make things worse.

    I am old enough to be VERY tuned in to the health benefits of losing weight, and this was one of the big reasons I went for the band. I was so happy last week to learn that my BP was lower than it has been in years!

    You are a great role model, Amy. Thanks for sharing this.

  6. I got very good at puking, but granted, I only puked after I'd binged to the point of being disgustingly stuffed. I was an overeater who puked or else I didn't eat at all in front of people. I was so confused as to who I was. I still have some issues with eating in front of people.

    The saddest part is that at 35 years old, I have fake teeth because of all the damage that I did to my mouth from the puking. I thankfully don't have any stomach ulcers or throat scarring from it, but I completely destroyed my teeth. It's so far taken over 2 years and $8,000 to repair what's broken and I still have a few more appointments to go. Once I figured I could live with being overweight, I became more obsessed with wanting perfect teeth instead of a perfect body. Some of the early contestants on The Biggest Loser I was just in LOVE with their smiles, especially Pam's from season 3 (I think it was... when they brought on fake Barbie Kim to train them... I was in tears happy when they brought back Jillian and got rid of the woman who was trying to teach people to "love themselves" but had breast implants and dental veneers and when they went to her high school she had been a thin cheerleader - talk about a bad role model for being a trainer on that type of show).

    The worst thing that I would do to myself when I was trying desperately to NOT eat by myself and not throw up anymore is that I would bake a container of brownies, cut them up, take big bites that I would chew into mush in my mouth - all while standing over the trashcan and spitting out the mush. I figured tasting the food but not swallowing it wouldn't count as calories. I did this frequently when weaning myself off the vomiting. Eventually, the boyfriend I had during that time was always willing to go anywhere and do anything with me, so we would just take off and be busy and that kept me from thinking all the time about how I ate.

    Which reminds me - my "kids" are waiting for me to stop reading Amy so we can go to the bookstore since I'm feeling good and in need of another Jen Lancaster book that I'm too impatient to wait to come out in trade paperback, so I have a Border's coupon to use on the hard cover.

    I watched the documentary too and it's available on NetFlix for those who have it - you should all watch it since it hits on so many different angles. And you HAVE to watch it if you have small daughters. Mine is covered with typical red head freckles and I can't stop telling her all the time how gorgeous she is because I don't want her to want to run out and buy a buttload of concealer to cover them up during her make-up years.