Watching this video really got me thinking. It’s hilarious and awesome because it ties into something we all so desperately want to believe. We want to believe in happily ever after. We want to believe that once we achieve that one thing, after we reach perfection, then everything will always be okay from that point on forever, amen. Right? It starts with the whole princesses thing, and then for many of us, it becomes the whole weight thing.
I spent many years indulging in “happily thin ever after” thinking. I believed that once I was thin, insanely rich and handsome men would swoop by in super yachts and pick me up and take me off to James Bond-style vacations (without the sorta violent parts) in exotic places. I dreamed that academy award-winning directors, stunned by my new svelte beauty, would discover me in a local Starbucks and offer me a three picture deal. But mostly I dreamed that I wouldn’t feel self-conscious any more, I would always feel fabulous about how I looked and that I would then have the courage to do anything I needed to achieve my dreams.
And then for a while, I got thin. And you know what? Absolutely none of the stuff that I believed in my happily ever after fantasy came true. None of it. No yachts. Not even a canoe. No vacations to exotic places–violent or otherwise. No three-picture deal. (Although I did get a latte…) And I still felt self-conscious, and unhappy about my looks and fearful and all of that stuff. I still wasn’t equipped to do everything I needed to achieve my dreams. I still felt miserable a lot of the time. And I thought, “What a rip off!” I was pretty annoyed that the whole getting thin thing was not as advertised. I mean I was averaging 700-800 calories per day. My hair was falling out. My digestive system was no longer working properly. I was no longer menstruating. I was exercising 2+ hours per day. And you know what, I was THIN. But the awesomeness I expected, just didn’t happen. I did have more places to shop for clothes but not more money to use for that purpose. I did have less trouble dealing with doctors, relatives and complete strangers who no longer felt it necessary to have “concerned conversations” with me about my weight. And for a while, I got a ton of positive attention from friends and family. And then it became like no big deal. I didn’t get positive attention any more. I got tired of feeling sick and tired all the time. And I just wanted to EAT! After over 12 months of this crazy regimen, my metabolism tanked to the point that I was gaining weight at 1,000 calories per day. So not surprisingly, I gained it all back and then some.
Society promises us that when we are thin, our lives will be perfect and exciting beyond our wildest imagination. Many of us who experience becoming thin (temporarily or otherwise) find ourselves totally unprepared for finding out the truth about being thin. The truth being that most of our problems are still with us, and our wildest imaginations go a long, long way beyond the lives that we experience as thin people. I was so moved when I read this account of a woman who had lost a lot of weight after weight loss surgery. Not surprisingly, she experienced an intense letdown when she realized the wonderful, perfect life she was promised in the doctor’s office never really materialized. And she was also completely unprepared for the loss of her sense of identity and her sense of self that can come with such a dramatic change in the shape of your body.
I am sure there are those out there who are eager to tell me that it is our fault we don’t experience the perfection that comes with weight loss. We weren’t thin long enough. We didn’t get thin the right way. We didn’t use the right products or achieve the correct level of enlightenment. But you know what? I don’t think there is any magic bullet that makes life perfect. I don’t believe that there is a moment after which you live happily ever after. I like to believe I’ve reached a moment after which I have a reasonably good chance of being happy a lot of the time. I like to believe that I’ve reached a stage where I feel reasonably content in my body and am equipped to make the best of what life has to throw at me. But happily ever after is a fantasy I’ve happily learned to outgrow.
The Fat Chick