Wednesday, August 1, 2007

On being ill and fat

My doctor's medical assistant weighs me everytime I go in for an appointment. There have been 2 times, now, in which I've been in to the office only a week after my last appointment. The first time, I was on either side of my menstrual cycle and it was amusing to find that my weight fluctuated by about 2 lbs during that time.

This week, I'd been at home, in bed and sick all week. I had an apetite but no energy to do much of anything. I lay in bed, ate mostly convenience food and lot's of body seemed to crave the sugar. I drank lot's of fluids, again mostly sugar, to keep myself hydrated.

So when I was asked to get on the scale to be weighed (again a week after I'd been in for an annual exam), I had gained 3 lbs. As much as I wish it didn't, that weight gain is dismaying. And it's crazy-making that it is.

I mean, I was sick FFS! I should be able to allow my body to do what it needs. I should be glad that the illness was not one that had me weighing less and allowed me to keep myself adequately nourished. But there is some cultural demon that lives in my brain...the one that says that weight loss when you are sick isn't really dieting. That's an acceptable way to drop some pounds.

While I was ill, I was re-reading Rachel's Holiday, a story about a cocaine addict who goes into recovery. She not only deals with her drug addiction, but also has some seriously messed up ideas about her weight. She's described as always being "solid" and tall, but she aspires to being a size 0. So she and her friend compliment each other by saying things like, "you look anorexic" to one another.

I know that a book like this may show an extreme example of weight obsession, but I don't think it's entirely off-track. There are enough pro-Ana websites to show that there is a serious movement of young women who aspire to anorexic thinness. They are literally making themselves sick to be thin.

In that context, it's not at all surprising to find that I hope being sick will make me thinner. But it's disturbing nonetheless.


P'tit-Loup said...

That kind of thought process is disturbing. When I did my internship, our office was next to the occupational therapy room for the children being treated for anorexia. Many had more than one hospitalization, were being tube fed, and even needed to be in a wheelchair due to their extreme weakness. They often stated things like "this is my third hospitalization" like it was a badge of honnor. The only thing they were good at. And the others would look at the speaker in awe, and compliment them. The social workers treating them often stated that having a group ward was often counter productive because the kids did encourage each other to remain sickly. Anorexic is not pretty, bone thin is not elegant to my sense, it's just sick, and looks sick.

Karen said...

This is off your topic but the new iMac just came out with the slogan: You can't be too thin. Or too powerful.