I woke up this morning to discover that the twin sister of someone I knew had died from a caffeine overdose. Apparently she had been taking some ‘diet’ pills and after drinking a coffee at a coffee shop, the combined amount of caffeine had been toxic.
She was twenty-seven and had only recently been married. It’s a very sad situation and one that is being made harder by the fact that the media has jumped onto the story and is sensationalising the crap out of it. There’s all the talk about body issues and the pressure on women to be thin and of course the dangers of so-called diet pills and how they can contain stuff that actually can kill you.
I met her twin when she was studying her MBA here in Australia. I hadn’t known until she did a Facebook post about it, but she had apparently been a large girl herself most of her life and had never really worried about her appearance. Then, for whatever reason, she decided she wanted to be different, got a personal trainer and lost 20kgs. She posted some rather unflattering pictures of herself captioned with, ‘This is the old me’ and wrote a little about how she had been ‘tomboyish’ and never bothered dressing ‘like a girl’ because she didn’t think she was attractive enough and that was followed by a slew of selfies of her in skimpy clothes and looking exceptionally hot.
When I saw all of that, my initial feeling was a wave of jealousy. I’d imagine I’m not the only person who would react that way, but it’s still a bit sad that I couldn’t be happy for her. Of course, the reason for my reaction was that she succeeded in doing what I want to do and on some level it felt like she was rubbing my face in my failure.
(And let me just say at this point, that I’m not trying to trivialise the tragic death of her sister and turn it into a ‘woe be me’ thing. What happened just made me think about the games I play with my body from time to time and why I do it.)
I’ve had an uncomfortable relationship with my body all my life. My weight has yo-yoed spectacularly every 2-3 years and so much so that I have enough stretch marks to have given birth to a bevy of children. Unfortunately, as a result, there are just parts of my body I cannot bear other people to see and I’m always limited in the types of clothing I can wear.
I’ve also tried quite a few pills and potions, done pretty much every major diet that has done the rounds (except paleo…I draw the line at that…) and spend a great deal of every day worrying about my weight and how it’s ‘ruining my life’.
Unfortunately, I’ve also been successful at losing weight enough times to know that losing weight doesn’t magically fix all of your other issues. The only thing it does is free you from the worry of having to lose weight, which then becomes the worry of having to maintain weight. Basically, you don’t lose the worry, it just becomes a different form of worry. But I still do it. I still think about my weight every morning when I get up and try to choose clothes for the day (why don’t I just have a wardrobe of mumus?) when I walk past any windows or shiny surfaces I can see myself in, when I eat by myself, when I eat in front of other people (are they judging what I’m eating?), when I walk and feel my thighs rubbing together, when I go to gym and see myself in the mirror and compare myself to everyone else I see in the mirror.
It’s exhausting, but it’s all stuff that I do to myself. I don’t particularly feel that pressure from the media is making me want to lose weight. I don’t look at models and feel like I have to look like them – they’re models…I know they’re not like normal human beings. I don’t see thin, smiling people on tv and think that I have to lose weight.
I think I have to lose weight because none of my clothes fit and it’s hard to climb stairs and having chafing between your thighs sucks.
There’s a lot of talk these days about embracing plus-sized models. Personally, when I see a catalogue or some sort of advertising with a plus-sized model, it kind of gives me a false sense of security. I don’t feel positive about it, I just feel “Phew, there’s someone else bigger than me!” It almost feels like it is giving me an excuse not to do something about myself.
I honestly have to say that I don’t find plus-sized models attractive. I know that some people enjoy larger people, but health-wise there’s nothing good that comes from being overweight. To me, healthy is good, well-proportioned is good, I don’t need to see every single bone in someone’s body, but I also don’t need to see bulges and rolls when I’m thumbing through catalogue. I can see enough of that stuff when I look in the mirror.
I have a lot more energy when my weight is lower. I’m healthier. I sleep better. Shopping for clothes is fun. Going somewhere is fun. Food becomes more fun because I appreciate it more instead of shovelling it into my mouth hole.
There are so many positive things that I feel when my weight is lower, but of course being thin is a lot of work for me – I like food, a lot and I do not like exercise or sport- at all. For whatever reason, the person with so much self-control that I am, just cannot control that part of me. I’d like to just be able to stay at a lower weight, but I’ve shown time and time again that I can’t and it irks me like nothing else. That’s why I can’t be happy when people around me succeed and why I can understand and sympathise so much with someone who was taking ‘diet pills’.
I don’t know why her sister felt the need to take the pills. I don’t know if there was a feeling of ‘rivalry’ between them after her sister’s weightless or whether maybe she had taken them in order to lose weight for her wedding and had just continued taking them. Whatever the reason, I don’t feel like what she did was ‘crazy’ or ‘stupid’ and I don’t think that she is a victim of ‘body image portrayal in the media making girls do dangerous things.’
I’d like to think she was trying to lose weight for herself, for her own reasons and what happened was a tragic unintended mistake.