Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Tea Musings*: Bodies

Tea of the night: A berry flavoured rooibos called the Queen of the Forest, bought at Tehörnan in Umeå.

Recently I have started reflecting over something. A year or so ago I started losing weight. I found myself not to be happy with my weight or the future implications it could have on my health if I continued in the same way. I was not overweight, but my clothes did not fit as well as before and I started feeling uncomfortable in them, so I took to the gym, I started eating more healthily. I dislike diets and would not call what I did a diet, it was more of a cleaning up of my diet; less processed foods, saturated fats, junk food and snacks; more fruit, vegetables and balanced meals with less carbohydrates and more proteins, unsaturated fats, vitamins and all those other essentials that my body likes.

The change was noticeable, both in mind and in body. Clothes quickly went back to fitting well again, and after a while they were too loose; I had more energy during the day and, above all, slept better at night, which is so valuable if you are, what I call a 'stress sleeper', like me. (For some reason I have a hard time going to sleep and that is usually the time of day when I am the most stressed out, which in its turn makes me even more stressed out - vicious circle.) Other people started noticing the change too, and I got comments on how well I looked.

It is interesting how once someone starts losing weight, people immediately comment on it. It is regarded as a nice thing to do, a recognition of the supposedly hard work that someone has put in to shed those extra kilos, and people mean well while they do it. It has struck me, though, how this seems to be one of the most flattering compliments out there, and you can tell that people always take great care in conveying their noticing your weight loss to you. Don't get me wrong, it is a nice thing to compliment people, regardless on what it is on, but I think this says a lot about society.

People take such great care telling me that I look 'amazing' or something like it, that I cannot help but feel it is a way of validating me in the eyes of society. I know that these compliments are not meant in this way, but the amazement and the pat on the shoulder type comments are a way of implying that I have done well, that I am striving towards the elite of those untouchable modelesque women and men who cover the glossy magazines and enjoy higher status in the spheres of society - that superficial elite that so many people would give a limb to belong to. I have become more valid in the eyes of society, I am on my way towards becoming a person now, not one of those undefinable lumps of flesh that we see everywhere. If I just do a bit more work, put in those extra hours at the gym, I will reach that separated sphere of unrealistically thin and beautiful people and I will be someone who matters.

This whole attitude makes me confused. I am just the same as before, perhaps a bit more energetic, perhaps my mind has become a bit quicker because I feel more alert, but my personality has not changed as far as I am aware. I feel just the same, so why should I not be just the same? Or rather, why should I not be treated just the same? It is interesting, because I don't seem to be alone in this feeling of being treated differently. People who have lost more weight than me also report being treated very differently, see this forum, for instance, or this. People are friendlier, they smile, they see you, and they see you in a good way. Your existence is not nearly as provocative to people as before, or perhaps they are just more likely to notice you.

It is interesting, that. Even if it weren't so that people were provoked by anything above a size medium, what is it that justifies that people who are a medium and below deserve more attention, more smiles, more acceptance? What is it that makes them so much better than the rest of the people? A letter on a label on the inside of their clothes? Their compliance to the incredibly impossible standards of celebrities who do not even manage to look like they are represented so they have to be airbrushed into a 'better version' of themselves added onto all that expensive make up applied by professional make up artists? Whatever standard it is that validates those people is too damn hard for them to reach even for themselves. It is a twisted ideal that focuses on completely the wrong things. What have I, or anyone else, achieved from being thin? Apart from health, that is, but people that are larger than a size medium can be healthy too, and it is certainly not without risks to both mental and physical health to strive for a 'size zero'. Besides, how does any of this, in any kind of way, justify treating people differently? Hint: it doesn't.

I want to point out again that compliments are nice, and most people, including me, appreciate them, even (sometimes in other people's cases especially) when they relate to weight loss. I am not in any kind of way suggesting that people start giving less compliments to others, I am just trying to share what I have noticed. In general I am in favour of much more compliments to be distributed to other people, as long as they are honest, and perhaps relating to more things than weight or other appearance-related things. Surely there must be more things that people are good at than looking good?

* A friend of mine complained a while ago that while there is a lot of feminism in my blog, there is no tea. There is no better way to incorporate this than to show how I keep myself fuelled while writing. This is how my ideas are conceived, baked and carried out - tea is nearly always involved.

1 comment:

  1. It's called the "Halo effect" in psychology. More attractive people are generally viewed in a better light, including mental capabilities. Normatively it is wrong, but humans don't always behave how they should ;)

    I am glad that you feel better after losing weight. Though, I like you just as much before than now if that makes you feel better ;)