Verso: the thick and thin of it by Linda Bindner

Let me make one thing clear – I am not fat; by 'fat,' I mean the rotund kind of fat, like the mother in What's Eating Gilbert Grape.
The floor-shaking kind of rotund, the kind where your car lists to the
side when you sit in it. I am over the weight that is healthy for me
tobe at, but I am not fat, either, and neither is the other half of the
population that we're told is overweight.


Let me explain. Two years ago I got sick. It doesn't matter with
what disease or how I got sick, only that I got sick. I lost about ten
because I couldn't eat… for a month. Then I was on a puree diet, then
a soft diet, then, finally, I could safely eat real food again. Nothing
has ever tasted as good as my first meal of mashed potatoes! I loved
the salt, the butter, the mess of potatoes dribbling down my
chinbecause my tongue just wasn't strong enough at the time to catch it
all…. Wow, was real food ever incredible!


Now, two years later, real food is still incredible. I like the way it tastes, the way it feels in my mouth, the way it smells
while it's cooking…everything. I especially love sweet things –
chocolate, sweet coffee drinks, sweet bread – ice cream, for example,
is totally divine. A friend recently gave me and my husband homemade
coffee flavored ice-cream. We gave her some of my daughter's hand me
down clothes, so
she made the ice cream to thank us. I think I got the better end of
that deal, even though she walked out of my house carrying two garbage
bags full of kids' clothes. Her ice-cream was that good. I would never
have guessed it was homemade.


But, the point is, that I'm eating now, I'm eating a lot, and I'm
enjoying every minute of eating it. When I was sick, I started off ten
pounds under my accepted target weight. Then I gained back those ten
pounds. But I didn't stop there. Soon,
I was twenty pounds over my target weight. Then thirty pounds. I
stopped eating so much to stop gaining weight, because I knew if I was
too heavy to move, it would ultimately make life harder for
me. But it sure was difficult to stop eating so much–everything
tasted so good!


However (and I am trying to make a point here, but I had to give a little history first so that you'll understand where my ideas
coming from), I hail from a background where I was taught and firmly
believed that 'thin' was good; being overweight was not. Not
rotund like that mother in What's Eating Gilbert Grape (I love that movie, by the way).


Where did this image of the 'right' kind of 'thin' come from? From magazines,
from TV, from my parents complaining when we were held up by an
overweight person (as if overweight automatically means slow) at a
restaurant or a convenience store. As if we were somehow right and that
person was wrong just by existing. But, what I never really understood
is that the idea we carried about 'thin' was actually what was wrong,
not the person in line in front of us.


I recently saw a photograph of myself right after my daughter was
born.I was so thin, I looked sick. Only, that was before I really
got sick. And, at the time, I thought that I needed to lose weight
because I had
tummy that stuck out. Well, you know what? When you're 30-something,
you're supposed to have a tummy, especially if you've had a baby.


I know of a woman who died recently from a disease (doesn't matter
disease); she weighed less than 100 pounds when she died, but she still
had cellulite on her thighs… But we're taught that she was 'wrong' to
have that cellulite when actually she was the one who was'right.' You
know why? Because we're supposed to have cellulite on our
thighs. We're designed as humans and as human females (because females
are biologically designed to have babies, not because females are
better or anything) to get bigger as we get older. That's the way it's
supposed to be, not that we should be a 'target' weight. What is a
target weight, anyway? Who decides something that's so personal? Why
should we get so angry about it when we don't hit that perfect little
number on our scale?


The weight loss industry is booming because we have this
preconditioned misconception of the perfect weight for ourselves – an
idea that has been firmly stamped in our minds by TV, magazine
pictures, and books or newspapers. We can't all be as thin as the
models we see on TV or in magazines. The reason why those people are
models, or actors, or actresses in the first place is because they're
so skinny. And have you noticed how young those models or actors and
actresses are? They're young because we're skinny when we're young and
not-so-skinny when we get older. That's the way life is. However, we're
not supposed to know that. We're supposed to buy in to the idea that we
need to be
'thin.' That way, we'll spend tons of money on weight loss products or
programs or diets in the hopes that we'll get skinny, when actually
we're supposed to getting thicker with age, not 'thinner.'
Well, I say 'phooey' to the weight-loss industry and all those
weight-loss companies advertisements. I like food, I enjoy eating it,
and I'm unhappy when I'm denying myself food in the hopes of achieving
what someone else has decided is the correct little number on a scale
for me. What do they know, anyway? It's far better for me to want to
reach a weight that is healthy for me rather than reach an unattainable
and unrealistic idea of 'thinness.' I'd rather be healthy right now
than 'thin,' anyway.


A wooden sign that I saw once in a catalog said it all – and I should buy that sign, because now I stridently agree with its
message…'Life's short – eat cookies!'


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