Wednesday, May 23, 2007


I had a wicked craving for a quesadilla or pancakes at 10pm tonight. Man, that sounded uber-tasty.

But you know, I'm working on staying in my clothes cause you know, clothes are expensive, and sweet fuck I just had to buy two pairs of size 18 - 18!!! - trousers for job interviews.

So I brushed my teeth and went to my room to shadow box with free weights and I realized that though the craving was certainly surprising, it was nothing at all like the carb cravings I used to get before I got sick.

I've always been a ridiculous carb addict, which I found out later was also sort of something that went hand-in-hand in diabetic families. Craving carbs is the reason diabetes still survives, I think. I think the two genes are linked; I mean, back in the day, living until 26, I would have popped out a handful of kids by then and spread those carb-loving diabetic genes all over the fucking place. Having an intense desire to scarf high-calorie food at all costs and being able to retain that weight would have put me at a distinct advantage.

My cravings used to be so bad that I would literally shake - shake, like a drug addict or alcoholic - during particularly bad cravings. This was one reason why the Atkins diet worked so well for me back when I was 18/19. After two weeks of withdrawl, I was finally able to live without those intense cravings. They didn't go away, mind you, but I no longer thought I was going to die if I didn't eat something loaded with sugar.

Food and weight are touchy subjects. We have very clear ideas about what sorts of people overeat, about what "fat people" are like, and I know that to some extent, having these incredibly out-of-control cravings (and, particularly in South Africa, some really awful bingeing sessions) has left me with a huge feeling of personal shame. Here I am, this out-of-control fat person.

But what's been worse is to no longer eat the way I did during the most stressful times in my life - the last couple years of high school and my time in Durban - and to still be gaining weight and struggling to get back into shape. I've said before that I'm pretty happy at 200 lbs. I have no desire to attempt a cool 155 lbs, which I don't think I've ever seen in my life, except maybe a brief period in fourth grade. No, I like being big and strong and tall. But once you get up past a certain size, it gets harder to find clothes, and not being able to maintain a steady weight - no matter what number it is - is fucking maddening. It takes all your self control to not beat yourself up about it.

And it's funny, you know, because I did work so hard to come to terms with this body, with what it can do. I like being powerful. I liked not having to think about my weight constantly. It's one of those big societal traps we get into; thinking about weight is a huge mental timesuck. It takes away time from writing, learning French, even getting a job. It sucks a lot of brilliant mind power into struggling with something that is, at the end of the day, rather trivial.

Yet, even knowing this, I'll catch myself shopping for clothes and I'll want to burst into tears. I'll think, "Oh God, I want to kill myself," and it's the intensity of that thought, the sudden brutality of it, that will stop me short.

Dear fucking christ, how important is another inch of flesh? How important is it for there to be less of me in the world? So important that I wish I wasn't here? There's this sick guilt you get when you *don't* feel guilty. What if you're too confident and outgoing and pretend nothing's wrong and then people come up to you and go, "So you know you're fat, right?" What do you say to that?

"I sure as hell am, and I love not being able to find clothes."

Or you laugh nervously and say you're working on it.

Honestly, I don't want to work on it. I want my weight to stay steady. I just want it to stop. I'll take a steady weight. I want my body confidence back. I don't have to be a size 2. I just have to be a size that stops moving.

Pretty please.

I need this angst for more productive things.

2 comments so far. What are your thoughts?

Steph Burgis said...

YES. This was exactly the post I needed to read today. For the past 6 months, ever since I got sick and unable to exercise, I've been steadily gaining weight, and the sheer amount of terror/awfulness that that's generated inside me is just horrifying. I used to think I'd gotten over my weight issues - but it turned out I was just skinny enough for a while not to worry. I hate that those feelings are so strong no matter how strong I think my intellectual principles are. Going shopping for a swimming suit last week, now that I'm closer to 150 than 120 lbs, made me say exactly the same thing: "Oh my God, I want to kill myself". And have the same horrified reaction to my own words.

And in case this helps at all: I was so surprised when I started to read this entry, because having just seen you at Wiscon, I thought you looked absolutely gorgeous, and I couldn't believe you were worrying about your weight!

(Except that, of course, we all seem to worry about it, no matter what. Damn it! I wish I could erase every single image of improbably skinny women that ever passed through my vision n as I was growing up.)

Kameron Hurley said...

Ha ha. Yeah, I just had the same startled reaction to reading your angst about weight - why the hell would skinny Steph Burgis worry about her weight?

But it's like some kind of pervasive cultural sickness. It's in our faces all the time; it takes up huge amounts of mental and physical energy (as its meant to - we're too busy hating ourselves to rebel! heh heh).

And that's the tough part, too: that we can go out into the world and "real" people can give us positive feedback, but the damage that society does to self-esteem, to conflating feelings of worth with body size (almost all of it "fake" feedback from "fake" or virtual people), is so deep that those brief moments when you get positive feedback just skim over the surface.