Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Sweet like Chocolate

I am working my way through a deluxe box of chocolate creams. Really. All by my ownsome. It's been a long time since I did something like this. But then, an elderly gentleman, who didn't know that people don't do suchlike these days, gave me a box of chocolates.

I reacted with that usual pull of guilt in the gut. Like, oh my God, all those calories, all that fat, fat, fat, fat, fat. What was I gonna do?

Fortunately I was reading Naomi Wolf's The Beauty Myth at the time. And Kim Chernin's Womansize. Throw in Cathie Dunsford's The Long Journey Home and you have, well, me. I realised that I had been worried about my weight from the time I was 20. Which means I have spent more than a decade worrying about my weight.

Yes, self-loathing definitely factors into it. So much so that earlier this year, I actually went on a juice diet for a month. I had nothing but fruit and vegetable juices twice a day for all that time. Life lost all its flavour, I withdrew into my room and talked to nobody and I developed a permanent stitch in my side. And my jaw and gums ached continuously. I stopped watching my favourite shows like The Waltons because nearly episode had the family gathered around the dinner table at last twice a day. I avoided shopping centres because I couldn't take the smells. All my waking hours, I was looking through recipe books and dreaming about food. Dreaming about the taste of blood on my tongue. Dreaming about biting into something adequately satisfying.

Yeah, so I lost about 10 kg in that time, and could fit teenage jeans sizes, so what? I lived a half-life and was constantly in pain. It amazes me to think that somehow I thought I was doing something good. So when I read through Wolf's wise words on hunger, it was like something went off in my head. How can skinny be attractive? Women's sex hormones are stored in fat. So no fat, no sex drive. Hahahahahaha! What an irony.

Both Chernin and Wolf talked about how women grow larger as they age - and how it is OK. In fact, studies show that women who are 10-15 pounds over their supposed ideal weight according to life insurance companies, lived longer. As long as they hadn't screwed their systems up with dieting.

Then I read how thin had suddenly become fashionable in Nigeria, a place they used to send brides-to-be to fattening farms to bulk up before marriage, after Agbani Darego won the Miss World 2001. Most of the older Nigerians were stunned. They didn't find her beautiful at all. Too tall. Too skinny. Now thin was in. It was lepa. Oh dear.

Or how the rate of eating disorders in Fiji had quintupled in 38 months after the introduction of television, according to a study done by the Harvard Medical School. Girls, fed on media images, had started to lose weight. Before this, if you started to lose weight, the elders would gather around you and medicate, convinced that you were suffering from a wasting sickness. Suddenly, it was OK to be wasting away. Oh dear.

And then there was Cowrie, the protagonist in Dunsford's lesbian, postcolonial novel. When a young dyke called her fat, she responded poetically, talking about the beauty of making love to a large woman, which she compared to entering the face of a giant hibiscus. There was something about an exploding frangipani in there, which was all very sensuous, but since I don't have the book with me, I can't quote verbatim. She said, after all this, who would want to lie down next to a blade of grass. Who indeed.

So that is what I think of as I work my way through this box of delicious chocolate creams. True, it has hurt my tongue and I now can't taste much besides, and I feel tired and cranky for no particular reason, but goddammit, I am making a point here.

Stay tuned for developments.


~Lil Nance ;> said...

Wish we lived close!! I would come right over and help you with those things!! I LOVE CHOCOLATE!! But, feel guilty for it a lot of times!

I had been a tiny little thing all my life. I am almost 28, 5ft nuthin, and 102lbs! For a time, a few years ago... due to medical problems, I put on a lot of weight a few years ago. I didn't think it looked bad, I suddenly had boobs, a great ass, and didn't look anorexic and for once I wasn't shopping in the kids section. Society was what made me think I looked bad. All the advertisers, the coke head models, the people at the department store when you ask to try on a cerain outfit! I learned to like myself... and screw what anyone else thought. I lost the weight, in a healthy way and I am ok with me, no matter what size I am!

It scared the hell out of me the other day, when my tiny(built like her mother)little 8 year old asked me if she was fat!! Ahhhh... I though "we are not going there"!!!

You enjoy those yummy's, every single one, and every last bite!!

Happy Hump Day!!

Andy said...

Psst. I'm a little partial to, ahem, full-figured women myself. Yeah, I'm one of those guys you hear about in television and the movies but never meet in real life. I'm not talking about massive women, but above-"average" size? Me like...

Jenn said...

Nancy - I wish you lived close too - would have been rapt to share these chocolate creams with you. I think my tastebuds have shut down from over-indulgence. Sigh. Am glad you're not going down the anorexic path (and would definitely recommend The Beauty Myth and Womansize, if you can get a hold of them). I can very well believe your daughter asked you if you thought she was fat. She reflects societal values (and when 8-year-olds are worried about size rather than scarfing chocolates, that be a sick society she's reflecting) Continue to be cool with who you are and I'll share some virtual chocolates with you over the webosphere.

Andy: Geez, I am really, really glad you said that. I believe that normal men like you exist, but find it difficult to prove the fact. Starving organisms are so fashionable around the world now and everyone from the guy who sells you nasi lemak (stall owner) to the security guards at my office comment on weight in their own delicate way: "Oh tebam, pigi jogging." (Oh plump, go jogging).


I'm a firm believe in healthy diet and exercise. The problem with "diets" these days is that 99% of them aren't healthy. Sheesh ... all juice, all the time. I'm glad to hear that you survived. I don't know if I would have!

But, back to the real subject at hand ... so, how are / were the chocolates? :)

Jenn said...

The chocolates were fantastic! Truly something to write home about. I just wish I had spread them over a longer period as they kind of burned off my tastebuds. I wish I could do things in moderation. It's either one extreme or the other.


believe = +r :)

stretch td said...

Pass the chocolate ... you are making me hungry.

I also like substantial curves. I'm over 220 so I would crush a 102 lb woman. Put some meat on her and we can have some fun!

m said...

ahh, I had the same reaction reading Wolf! :)

Jenn said...

Stretch - wow, really? I would have taken you for a skinny lover, seeing whose blogs you comment on. Yay! Another normal male.

M - We seem to have watched the same movies and read the same books. How cool is that?

~Lil Nance ;> said...

What an informative post this turned out to!! We all learned a bit about each other!! And, because of this post, i had a wonderful, chocolate ice cream bar last night, bought for me by my very wonderful(normal)sweetheart of a man!! Glad to know there are more of y'all out there!!

m said...

jenn - I know! :)

Jenn said...

Nancy: Beau is aces with me kid.