(Part 3 in a 3-Part Series on my Anxiety)
I shot out of bed, opened my bottom dresser drawer, and checked the inside tag of one of my pairs of pants. It was exactly as I thought and feared: Size 12.
I went to the kitchen where Doug was standing pensively with an open book of poetry (I often find him like this when I get up in the middle of the night).
“I’m afraid I might have Body Dysmorphic Disorder,” I told him. “Normally it happens to people who see themselves as fat even though they’re very skinny. But what if I have the opposite problem, where I see myself as average but in reality I’m morbidly obese?”
He looked at the clock. It was 2am.
“How did you get this idea?” he asked.
“Yesterday I overheard a woman tell another woman that she bought her wedding dress online but she couldn’t remember if she was a size 6 or size 8 so she ordered both. And I thought this woman was bigger than me. Not that she was fat, but I would have thought she at least had wider hips than mine. But in reality I’m twice her size?”
Doug shrugged. “I guess.”
“Or do you think the sizes she was talking about might be on a different scale than I use because I still mostly shop in the Juniors section, plus maybe there is a third completely different system just for wedding dresses?”
“I don’t really know anything about women’s clothing,” he said.
“Just be honest with me, Doug. Am I obese? Are we one of those awkward couples where the woman is super fat and the man is super skinny?”
“No,” he said. “We’re not one of those couples.”
“But how do I know you aren’t just saying that to be nice?” I said, pulling two handfuls of hair tightly around my chin. “How do I know I’m not delusional or that I haven’t just been looking in fun-house mirrors my whole life?”
“You could look up your weight on a BMI calculator to be sure,” he suggested.
I raced out of the room, grabbed my laptop, and came back. I looked up a BMI calculator and entered my height and weight.
“Oh no, no no no,” I said when my results came in, slapping my hand to my face. “I’m three pounds over my healthy range. I’m officially overweight!”
Meanwhile, Doug had entered his information into a BMI calculator on his own laptop. “That’s interesting,” he said, reading the screen. “I could gain forty pounds and still be in the healthy range.”
I slammed my laptop shut. “That’s not helping, Doug!”
I started pacing around the living room. “How did I let this happen? I used to be so skinny and pretty in high school!”
Sidenote: I did not think I was skinny and pretty in high school; I only think that now when I look back at old pictures. When I was in high school I was doing the exact same thing I am doing now: obsessing about my weight to boyfriends who didn’t give a crap about it.
“Today in health class we learned that the reason women have more body fat than men is to protect growing fetuses,” I remember telling my boyfriend in 10th grade as I pinched a ring of my belly fat with both hands. “So on the bright side, I guess I will have really healthy babies?”
In response he just yawned and asked if I knew what time The Chappelle Show was coming on.
“I shouldn’t have eaten this whole birthday cake!” I declared, walking back into the kitchen and picking up the empty cake box to examine the nutritional information. “Oh God, it says the cake was fifteen servings. And I ate it all in about… eight days! But you had some of it, right? You probably had at least six servings?”
“I really didn’t have much of it,” Doug said, still studying his screen and contemplating his weight gain potential. “Maybe like half a serving.”
After a while all of this anxiety started making me hungry and I got a super strong craving for a buttered roll. But Doug pointed out that this would only increase my anxiety and delay my sleep even further. So he patted my stomach, named it Betsy Ross, and sent me off to bed to catch as much sleep as I could before the sun started coming up.
Ha. I like your anxieties. Good material for sure, and very relatable. Oh the perspective… I pine for my size 12 pants, which I haven’t been into for years and years. I looked “hot” in those size 12’s. And just like you, I didn’t think I did then, but looking at those pictures now, oh boy oh boy.
And Doug sounds like a good guy. Kurt and I call my stomach (lovingly, of course) my Pooh Bear belly. 😉
Keep ’em comin, J-Bo!
Thanks! Glad to hear my belly isn’t the only one with a name 🙂
We get these weightxieties by watching super thin models on tv and ads, and they’re not realistic role models. As a photographer who uses retouching programs on my clients, I can tell you that even the models don’t have flawless skin or perfect jaw lines. It’s amazing what you can do with photo-retouching programs. Also, and I know this is not going to cheer you up, it’s much easier to gain and harder to lose weight after menopause (you have a long way to go for that, tho). Even at my age, I’m still obsessing over my weight, but my husband doesn’t seem to care. I keep telling him to stop tempting me, but he bought a tin of chocolate covered biscuits a couple of weeks ago, and I managed to eat almost all of them in a week. The more we obsess about our weight, the more we feel like eating chocolate. That’s my take on it.
Yes- I always find it ironic that we care about our weight/appearance supposedly because we worry about what others think of us- and yet it’s rarely the other people who even care, only ourselves. Thanks for the comment!
Hey, i am have 60 pounds overweight than the Normal BMI…:( and that suggests that i am really really obese …trying to reduce some …:(
The BMI is nobody’s friend.
😦 sounds like that
For some weird reason, I imagined you as America Herrera while reading this post. 🙂
Haha. I’ll take it.
This is…my number ONE anxiety. A news announcemnt proclaiming a meteor was headed for earth about to crash in the center of Berkeley and for all inhabitants to flee immediately and my first thought would be – shit, what am I goin to wear to Armageddon that doesn’t make me look fat. I would weight myself, I would freak out that I hadn’t lost those 4 lbs before having to interact with 50,000 people while thinking “i feel fat” the entire time.
Yah, this while death is looming above, my ass, its girth, firmness, size is what is at the foremost of my mind. I will avoid social events (even realllly important ones like weddings of close friends or family), work (which has gotten me in trouble) and now job seeking. It is obviously a serious problem I am kinda working on with my therapist.
I blame…my dad for calling me thunder thighs when I was 8 years old, pudgy when i was 12, said I was 10lbs of potato’s in a 5lb sack and should go out get get some friggen exercise, talked endlessly about “wasted calories” and obviously had some food/body issues of his own or was completely unaware of the consequences of saying this these to a pre-puebesent girl, a girl in the throws of puberty (who by the way went from training bra to 34 D in one summer – yah I sprang hips and tits and the last think I needed was my father, the only male influence in my life telling my new curves – which by the way were just that curves, I wasn’t even fat, maybe 5lbs more than ideal if that), telling me my body was bad and to not eat and exercise. Which, is eventually what I did. Still do.
weightxiety – the mother of allll anxieties, and believe me I have quite a few myself!
Yes, this can be so crippling. That’s good that you’re able to talk about it to your therapist. You should blog about it too- sounds like there’s a lot there and writing can help sort out those thoughts. It definitely sounds like your dad had his own image issues- so unfortunate that he had to take them out on you during such formative years.
Thank you 🙂
You know, when I was younger and going through all those change it was crippling for me, the “weightxiety”. I was ashamed, wouldn’t undress in front of…anyone. Was afraid to eat in front of people etc. Now, honestly, I still harbor all those same feelings, I’ve just become more comfortable with them being there. Like and itch that you eventually stop scraching but is always crying out for it.
I’d intended to write about my weight more in this blog. I have with my struggles to fit into a bridesmaids dress, described how last year I lived on 500 calories a day while doing 2 hours of cardio for 10 days to lose 6 lbs for a wedding only to give myself a seizure 4 days before the event from all this…”determination”. But, even in therapy, it’s something I don’t delve into as much as it a part of my life. A HUGE part of my life. That it has cost me jobs and affected my grades (when I felt to fat to leave the house and refused to go to work or class), my social life and my romantic relationships. From a diagnostic perspective it is basically affecting me like a drug addiction would – including the health affects.
But… I’ll talk about stuff and then mention “oh, and I also have severe body image issues” and somehow it gets brushed over. I just started a new therapist, who is super thin btw, and she mentioned at least 5 times during out first session how slim i was, that she couldnt imagine it was a struggle for me to stay slim, i countered that it wasn’t, that I gained and lost weight very easily, and she again said, i cant imagine it, you are so slim…ok…yes it felt good, but when i gain 6lbs, which I inevitably do bc my body is curvy and used to being starved and holds onto every extra calorie for dear life, i am not going to want to see her, i will have let her down. She set me up for failure and she had no idea, not her fault, but…it is what it is. It is the hardest thing for me to talk openly and honestly about. It is tied in with my sense of self, attractiveness, how good or bad a person I am, if I am a success or a failure, if I deserve reward or punishment. It represents…everything and it sucks.
I was an average-sized baby (6lb12oz) but soon became a roly poly little bundle of joy and I don’t think I have ever really been within the “healthy weight range” for my age. I remember our family doctor tut-tutting at me every time I got on the scales at our 6-monthly family checkups. Certain family members also rejoiced in suggesting I could lose a few pounds (not my parents though – they loved me just the way I was).
Like you, I don’t feel that big. I know that I wear an Australian size 16, and my blood pressure could be better, but I’m otherwise healthy and happy and I only suffer from weightxiety occasionally (usually when someone reminds me that my BMI is higher than it’s “supposed” to be). Meh!
I have workmates that are obsessive about their calorie intake and exercise regimens. I have no doubt that their BMIs are “normal” but I have better things to do with my life than stress about my stats. I don’t overeat, but I don’t starve myself either, and my husband loves me just the way I am.
Relax – enjoy life – eat cake!
I like your way of thinking! You make a good point about weighing (no pun intended) the cost of being skinny. What’s the fun in life if you don’t get to eat what you want sometimes or are always calculating calories? Thanks for reading!
You are too young probably to remember that “commencement address” that they made into a song (was it in the 90s, when you were like, 4?). It was called “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen).” But I thought it was so appropriate:
“Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth; oh nevermind; you will not
understand the power and beauty of your youth until they have faded.
But trust me, in 20 years you’ll look back at photos of yourself and
recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before
you and how fabulous you really looked….You’re not as fat as you
We probably all have some form of this anxiety. I will tell you that, at age 40, I care less about it than I did in my mid-20s, if that helps you at all. When I wake up in the middle of the night, I worry about the house burning down and my kids getting hurt and car accidents and the end of the world as we know it. But I rarely wander the house worrying about the tiramisu I packed in last week. ; )
I DO remember the sunscreen song, I had it on CD. I heard a writer speak the other night and she was reading a letter she would like to have given herself back when she was in her twenties. One of the lines was this:
“Stop worrying about your weight- you aren’t fat. Or, rather, sometimes you are a little bit fat, but who gives a shit?” 😉
This is not true. I counted calieors from my former way of eating and then when I went on a low-carb for 6 weeks. I lost 22 and hit my goal. During that time period, I ate roughly the same amount of calieors. Granted on days, I was a couple hundred under, but on days, I was a couple hundred over. In my case, I was eating roughly the same amount. I\’ve come to believe that calieors are not the deciding factor.
That’s a brilliant answer to an interesting question
This post filled me with super dooper mega anxiety and maybe even a little bit of heartburn.
Ahh! Sorry about that! Go eat a cupcake- you will feel better.
Does it make you feel better that so many people can relate to your anxieties? Or worse that you really aren’t that unique. Well, either way, you make me feel better about being crazy 🙂
Definitely better. Also Bevin just told me that dresses have different sizes than pants- so that made me feel the most better.
Thanks for the tips shared using your blog. Something also imraptont I would like to express is that weight reduction is not exactly about going on a dietary fads and trying to lose as much weight as you can in a few months. The most effective way to lose weight naturally is by acquiring it slowly and right after some basic suggestions which can enable you to make the most out of your attempt to shed weight. You may be aware and be following a few of these tips, yet reinforcing information never damages.
Thanks, Riles.When Regina pushed Cora throguh the mirror, I was absolutely sure she was sending Cora to Wonderland (to become the future Queen of Hearts). But then the ending when Cora showed up in Emma and Mary M’s pit threw me for a loop and made me doubt that Cora had really gone to Wonderland after all. But I think you’re on to something. Maybe she did go first to Wonderland and then somehow made her way (or was taken) to FTL later on.I think Storybrooke Regina was sincere, at least for a moment, in wanting to renounce magic, become a better person, and do the right thing for Henry. At first, when she was telling Henry to go with David, I thought it was a trick. But then when she almost burned the book and then changed her mind that all seemed real. I agree with you that it’s an addiction and she will inevitably relapse. But, at the same time, she really does not want to become like her mother even though she already has. So there’s an interesting tension there.
Did anybody else find it awkarwd that Rumple and Regina didn’t say anything about the whole Wraith incident when she went to his shop to get the spell book? I would think between Rumple’s anger towards her, and her almost dying, some words would have been exchanged. Rumple gave her that book way too easy. What was it she threatened him with to get that book? I need to go back and watch that again.
I’m not easily impressed but you’ve done it with that posting.
I think everyone does this. And I have a theory. Besides all of the retouching that happens in the media.
Whenever I see myself in a picture I think: I DO NOT look like that! And I think part of it’s because we’re used to seeing ourselves in the mirror, which is the flip image of what others see us as (and how pictures portray us). So we perceive that we’re not seeing what we truly like like because we don’t recognize the image completely. And we’re quick to think it’s a weight issue…”I don’t think I’m overweight but look at that picture! I must perceive myself differently than what I actually do look like! I must be heavier than I think!”
I was listening to a RadioLab (an AWESOME NPR show) once and they were talking about mirrors. It had some good stories, including: “[W]e meet a man named John Walter who swapped places with his mirror self. Kind of. He explains how changing his hair part changed his life, and how the experience convinced him that mirrors (and the reversed images they reflect) lie to us. We run John’s theory by Mike Nicholls of the University of Melbourne, who admits John might be on to something about the way we perceive faces.”
John Walter went on to make a True Mirror: http://www.truemirror.com/.
So, I think it’s the whole image we’re not recognizing. And we tact it to weight.
Look how Lincoln looked to others and how he saw himself: http://vimeo.com/22141675
I forgot to add:
You Favorite Behaviorist
Yes, I always think about the Jessica Darling book where she realizes the mirror thing and that her part has been on the wrong side of her head her whole life.
I’ve read about the mirror effect in terms of how we don’t like actual pictures of ourselves as much as we like our reflection and the reason we like our reflection the most is because we have been exposed to it more, and we always tend to favor whatever we are exposed to more. I have never connected this phenomenon to weight though, so that’s interesting to think about.
Wow, am I glad I’m a guy. I say this because pretty much every woman I’ve ever known has had body issues of one sort or another. In fairness, I believe that the media and advertising world have made it almost impossible for 99 percent of women to feel good about how they look, which is unfortunate. At least you can make people laugh when you describe your anxieties, which is a rare gift.
You’re right- every woman I know struggles with body image. I have a friend who is really skinny and pretty but complains that she has ugly knees. Ugly knees? I wouldn’t have thought of that in a million years. It’s always something. Thanks for reading!
You should always factor height into the equation. People who wear half my size are usually also half my height….:) Or close.
Good point… I hadn’t thought of that! Thanks!
COULDN’T RELATE MORE. P.s. I love how in every situation, you’re always on the look-out for that one piece of common knowledge that everybody in the world is aware of but you. I have the same fear, and it’s crippling!
You should know that the reason I started this whole series in the first place is because I was impressed by the way you write so openly about your anxieties- and I recognized all those anxieties entirely too well- so it made me feel like I should be more honest in my own writing.
That anxiety you felt about finding out the restaurant your date suggested was closed and debating whether or not to tell him resonated with me so much. I feel like I live some version of that scenario every second of my life.
I’m SO glad that I could inspire such a brilliant 3-part series! Such a fan of anxiety-honesty…. and OMG I’m so glad you’re in the whole “I can relate” camp regarding the restaurant text. A lot of people told me I needed to stop over-analyzing things like a crazy person when I posted that… But they clearly just aren’t human.
I laughed at the comical way you shared your weight anxiety story, but it also saddened me as it brought to mind my daughter going through anorexia/bulemia in her youth due to similar body image obsessions. Like my daughter, you are a beautiful woman (based on your profile photo). I hope you won’t be too hard on yourself as you continue to let us laugh at the same things that have tormented us at times. And I am sure you will have beautiful babies.
Thank you very much!
It’s ok…my mom always tells me that I have a tire around my waist. 😦
Oh my god! Thank you SO much for making sure I read these. After my freakout last week it’s been so awesome to see other bloggers sharing their own crazypants stories and I feel like you and I might have the same brain. Which is a little scary for the world, but you’re right – we’re just geniuses. And hilarious so if neuroses = comedy, well, I guess I’ll take it.
And I can totally relate to this one in particular – I have the same “are we one of those couples” anxieties with my stringbean boyfriend. In one of my finer moments I started crying about how we were like Miss Piggy and Kermit because I’m his gigantic, wacky girlfriend. Cray cray indeed.
It is obvious that wihegt has become an obsession with your friend, that he is so intent upon losing the excess poundage that he is carrying it too far. If you go without food for a certain length of time, you lose the fierce hunger and, although your body cries out for food, you can ignore it.The big problem in dieting is not losing the wihegt. Determination, adherence to a strict regime of one kind or another will work. The biggest hurdle is keeping it off. Your friend knows this, so he is still dieting long after he could ease up a bit.I think the answer lies in nutritional education. Give your friend some pamphlets and books on proper diet. Show him that eating rationally will keep that wihegt off, without the problems of starvation. He needs nutrients for good health. He is on his way, but now he needs guidance on just how to stay slim, without sinking back into his old habits.The answer here is not slices of pie or cake or cookies. The answer is in fruits, vegetables and a healthy selection of protein! I know. I’ve been there, like Mark Twain, a thousand times!
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