In this age when fashion models grow thinner by the week and real-sized women attempt to reclaim their curves, I hesitate to complain about my own physical self. As the mother of girls ages 9 and 7, I am very conscious of what I say about my body. You won’t hear me utter self-deprecating phrases that begin with “I’m so...”, or “I hate my…”. I cannot bear the thought that they could grow up and hold themselves in contempt, as so many women in our culture seem to do.
We are bombarded from birth with advertising and media images that seek to make girls and women doubt their own value and to believe that looking good is the primary measure of a woman’s worth. Flip through any fashion magazine and you will find women’s bodies used as objects in order to sell liquor, cars, clothes and cosmetics. Teaching children to think for themselves in this media-saturated environment is an uphill battle.
Therefore, it was with great reluctance that I recently answered my elder daughter’s question of “Where are you going?” with “To Weight Watchers.”
Yes, I need the Weight Watchers program. Again. Although I like to believe that the reason I require the accountability of the meetings again is due to a pregnancy. That baby just turned 2. It’s obvious that no amount of exercise and logging calories works as well for me as plain old-fashioned peer pressure. Go to the meeting, get on the scale, announce that you’ve lost a few ounces and keep working at it some more.
It’s difficult for me to know how to explain this to the girls. I don’t have a laptop or an extremely intelligent phone. There are smart phone apps that help people to discretely track their food intake. I have to track my food and activity daily on the company website, frequently in plain view at the computer in my dining room. They don’t get it and, bless their hearts, they don’t think that mommy is fat. Weight Watchers, on the other hand, would like for me to lose 55 pounds.
The local Weight Watchers group meets at a church in Elmhurst, and they are a kind, supportive group. I sign in, wait in line for the scale, remove my shoes and hold my breath, waiting for the numbers to go down once a week. Sometimes, they do. I am annoyingly inconsistent in my ability to follow the program. Maybe holding my breath makes me weigh more.
I worry too much about everything. I often fear that a panic attack is only a moment a way. Mind you, I’ve never had a panic attack, I just overeat to tamp those emotions down and then everything is FINE. Except for the extra hips on my hips.
I’ve decided to do away with letting advertisers in my living room, as much as possible. With the exception of Oxy-Clean (I find it to be a useful product), I just don’t need commercials for fast food restaurants and diet plans blaring at me, or my children. I don’t really need first-run TV programs. My husband hooked a magic box to our set that allows us to stream channels and use a service like Netflix. So far, it has been a great relief.
I wrote the preceding paragraphs in late January and have since bounced up and down the scale, keeping 7 pounds off so far. Only 48 more to go.