The Skinny Little Bitch Project is a biweekly updated-when-I-can feature dedicated to examining the role of weight in celebrity culture and the impact of size in one woman’s daily life. The entries may be triggering should you suffer from an ED or body image issues. For more info on the project, or to read it from the beginning, please go here. This is not a health plan we are endorsing, we do not promote dieting and hope this project will increase awareness.  Please read at your own risk.

 

When a person begins dieting there is a whole new vocabulary to learn. A “bad day”, might once have meant the death of a family pet, or a boss’s seemingly endless tirade at the workplace, or tripping and spraining your ankle. For a dieter, saying you’ve had a “bad day” is synonymous with eating in a way that deviates from your chosen diet plan. Likewise, where being “bad” pre-diet might have meant punching a vicar or spitting indoors, in the dieting world, “bad” behavior is deliberate deviation from your diet plan – often exercised with a sense of glee, of joy.

The vocabulary people use when talking to you – the dieter – also changes. As a fat, non-dieting woman, the compliment about my appearance included, “you have such pretty eyes,” and “I love your makeup”, and “That’s a great outfit.” Compliments designed to find and praise honestly physical attributes or fashion and beauty employed to highlight these attributes thus sparing the person addressing you the duty of pointing out that you are fat, and thus, not worthy of praise.  As a dieting woman, making deliberate changes to her physical appearance, the things people say now include, “You must have so much energy!” and “You look great!” and “You seem different!” – because to say what they are actually thinking “You’re not as fat as you used to be, and I like that, because it’s what I’ve been conditioned to like,” would be uh, complicated.

With Thanksgiving on my heels, I made a decision not to use the dieter’s vocabulary. On Thanksgiving proper, I would be “eating like a normal person.” I wasn’t going to be “bad”, I wasn’t going to “cheat”, I wasn’t going to “take a day off,” – I was going to make an effort to eat the foods I normally eat on Thanksgiving, with the practice and awareness of a person with a healthy relationship with food, people, and themselves. I kind of think the words we assign to deviating from a diet plan encourage unhealthy behavior. If I’m  being “bad”, surely the thing to do would be to eat eleven rolls. If I’m “cheating” why not eat every pie? Instead I opted for “eating like a normal person,” with no qualifiers.

Approaching the day this way was challenging but ultimately awesome. While I got to eat whatever I wanted, it was without the glut of panic I have approached festive meals with while dieting in the past. Of course the food was on my mind – I got fuller faster than the Becca of yore might have, and this depressed me. I was hyper-aware that none of the women at the table wanted to be the first to crack into the bread basket, while the guys fell upon theirs with the happy abandon of wolves. (Note: we did not have segregated bread baskets, the seating wound up being gendered, a fateful happenstance.) I ate what I liked, and began eating in a restrictive way the next day. The only negative aspect was being in a foul mood the next day because my guts were all borked (not a real word but the only one that suits my purposes.)

There have been two other SLB-worthy changes that I’ve made since last I posted (a shameful almost-three-weeks ago!) One, I cut off all of my hair – something I wrote about over on XOJane. For our purposes, the haircut was part SLB-exercise (What happens when a fat woman gets a thin haircut) and part I just plain wanted it. Although I’ve yet to get have my vagina waxed bald and covered in diamonds or go tanning or some such, getting the cut was a definite big change in my grooming. Outside of the project, I’ve recently come to the conclusion that I no longer wanted hair that didn’t reflect who I am, and I no longer wanted to own clothes that didn’t reflect who I am. I cleaned out my closet, donating everything that didn’t fit, that I didn’t love, that didn’t make me feel awesome. It was after this closet purge that I did the big haircut. It feels good to be happy and comfortable and presenting my best self to the world. I even updated all of my pajamas and lounge-wear – and weirdly it was almost MORE satisfying to do this – since it was truly for me and me alone. While these two changes weren’t done with Skinny Bitch in mind, it’s impossible to deny that they came about because I’ve been more aware of image and presentation lately. I think it’s worth noting because it’s been the first positive that’s come out of this project.

NOTES:

  • Also, I’m down 25 pounds.
  • I have 45 to go – which seems incomprehensible to me.
  • I like the way I look right now, and can’t really see me losing more than 10 pounds and still looking like, well, myself. We’ll cross that bridge ten pounds from now, I guess.
  • Weirdly I lost weight while I was away for Thanksgiving, too. I have no idea what that means.