There’s one pervasive element which affects my mood that I have avoided writing about for a year. This isn’t a depression thing, it’s a living in a society that values appearance over anything of actual worth and importance thing. Yeah, it’s my weight.
And I’ve avoided it, because if talking about how my body gets me down makes me want to roll my eyes as hard as I’m doing right now, imagine how you, reader, must feel. It’s tedious. It’s predictable. It’s shallow? Nobody wants to talk about it and nobody wants to hear about it. But I’ve realised this is exactly why I should probably be breaking it down, on this blog I’ve created for the purpose of uncomfortable levels of honesty.
So – I feel fat. That’s not your cue to jump in and correct me, because you can’t. You can’t tell me what I feel, and you can’t change my mind by dismissing those feelings. You know you can’t, because the same is true when you feel fat and someone tells you that you’re being ridiculous. Which they will. Because they have to. It’s this minefield of a catch-22, in which we’re constantly reassuring each other that we’re no worse a human specimen than we were before those fifteen crème eggs in a week; but the fact we have to insist on this every damn time suggests that, well, actually, we are. Heaven forbid any of us should gain a few pounds, right? Fluctuating in weight is a fact of life for most of us, but please make sure you never once fail to deny this.
I don’t know, maybe some people are talked right out of their body woes by their friends and family berating them for voicing them out loud. Maybe I actually have comparatively high body confidence if I’m able to mention in a conversation that I’ve got heavier without expecting any denials. Maybe I need to just shut up altogether if I’m not looking to be made delusional about this simple truth.
But this is what’s so sucky about feeling fat – the truth is simple; the emotions are anything but. I know that I still average out as slender just as well as I know that slender is an arbitrary standard and nothing to be proud of. I know that if I’ve gained and lost weight before, it can and probably will happen again. And I know that just because I’ve noticed it, doesn’t mean everyone else has. In short, my rational mind is aware that none of this shit matters, and yet my state of mind is taking a sizable hit over this. I would go as far as to call my relationship with my body one of the big influences on my ups and downs.
If the baseline for such neuroses wasn’t so skewed, this might qualify as a cause for concern. As it is, I doubt this comes as any surprise at all. Look at what our perceptions of our appearance can do to a person’s mental health. Anorexia is a killer. Disordered eating passes for just ‘eating’ for legions of us at some time or another. I read an article a few weeks ago that suggested chewing a tablespoon of chia seeds for breakfast on the go. No, really.
I guess it comes back to something I wrote about months ago, about how we value ourselves based on how we think other people value us. Our outward appearance is the first indicator of who we are, after all, even if it’s a poor one in a lot of ways. Granted, we choose factors like our wardrobe and the way we style our hair, and that can say a lot about how we want to be perceived. But it’s the fear of being judged on the other things – like the fact our thighs touch or the blotchiness of our skin; the things we all know full well have no bearing on how interesting, intelligent, witty and kind we are – that’s causing us to lie awake at night regretting crème eggs. This is a travesty. One should never regret a crème egg.
The hilarious and tragic thing is that the older I get, the more remote the idea of thinking a mean thought about somebody else’s body becomes – even if I notice that yes, they have in fact gained weight – so why do I imagine anyone is thinking that way about me? Through no discernible effort, I think I’m maybe getting too wise to be convinced by Instagram or a magazine that there’s one ideal body shape, and that the rest of us are all somewhere on a scale of perfection oriented around it. It’s happening slowly, and periods of low body confidence like this one set me back, but I’m starting to see a distant future in which my mood is free to flourish and wilt only in positive correlation to excessive numbers of crème eggs. By which point I’ll have wrinkles and grey hairs to agonise over instead HA.