I just read an article by Fiona Macrae on the internet that said a survey of female students aged 18 to 65 at British universities found that almost 1 in 3 would be willing to die younger in exchange for the “ideal” figure. The survey determined that 2% would forgo up to a decade of life, 10% were willing to trade between 2 and 5 years and 16% said they would swap one year of their life for their ideal body.
Have to say, if I could keep it that way without effort and pain, I would gladly give a couple of years off the end in exchange for my dream body. Don’t know that I would go 5 years…I would have to think about it, but 2 is quite doable. I don’t really want to get old anyway, quite frankly. It becomes difficult to do everything. Enjoyment (not that I HAVE much of any to begin with) is substantially reduced. Health becomes more of an issue. No one cares what you look like anymore because you are nothing but wrinkles. The brain goes. You totter instead of walk. You can’t even care for yourself, so living in your own home become a big concern. Because of all this and the many other challenges of aging I haven’t mentioned, two years off the tail doesn’t sound like that much of a big deal to me in exchange for my ideal / perfect body. Guess that puts me in the 10% category.
What would my ideal body look like? Hmmmm…well, a lot of people aren’t going to like it. But if I had my preference, I would weigh between 90 and 95 lbs. and would be able to eat whatever I wanted, within reason, and still maintain that weight. I wouldn’t have to exercise to stay there, but if I did exercise, it would just make me feel better rather than making me skinnier (since I wouldn’t have to diet to maintain my weight). I would be a size 00 or a 0. I would be waif-like. No boobs. No butt. No thighs. Decidedly bony. I’m 5′ 4″ and this would cause me to be classified as “underweight” per the medical community. But I don’t care what others think, because this is where I feel comfortable and this is what makes me happy. This “look” might not be sexy by anyone else’s definition, but it’s the look I want; the look that feels good to me. And it’s my definition that’s most important to me because I’m not trying to please anyone else with the way I appear. This would be totally for ME…my ideal, my dream.
Yet, I can’t help but wonder what has influenced me to create this particular picture of “ideal.” Could my father’s cutting remarks about my mother’s weight have had an impact? Could his relentless rejection of her because of her weight have caused me to see things in a certain way? Could the emphasis on food and eating (clean your plate!) versus the encouragement to diet and fit a certain (very thin) mold to be accepted have influenced me? What about all those “you would be so pretty if only you would lose some weight” comments? Or my all time favorite, “You have such a pretty face,” said with a twinge of “what a shame about the rest of you” in the voice. Next, there are the magazines and movies and television shows where the leading ladies are always the thinnest, teeniest, tiniest. “Good things come in small packages,” you know. Don’t you think that implies bad things come in big packages? And then there’s the way people treat you when you’re overweight (yep, I’ve been on that end of the spectrum too). You’re treated like you are the plague. Like it might rub off. People don’t even SEE you most of the time, but if they do see you, they look at you with disgust. They judge you and find you wanting. It’s assumed you are a pig, that you aren’t as gifted and talented as your peers and that you have very little, if any, value. You couldn’t possibly be professional or intelligent if you are overweight. Others will snippily quip that you’re fat…a fatty…obese…and they will say it like it means you’re totally stupid, disgusting and worthless. No one much cares what’s on the inside because they believe the outside says it all. Perhaps these are some of the things that have caused me to paint the picture I have of my ideal body.
Not everyone who is exposed to the comments, taunting, disgusted looks and magazine ads develops ”body issues,” as they are so cleverly labeled. It takes a perfect storm of events and feedback to do the right amount of damage to sink a soul and rape a mind. Unfortunately, it’s not that uncommon of an event. We are especially vulnerable when we are children, and once developed, those ideals and beliefs are with us for life unless there is some pretty major intervention. As the British study indicates, there are quite a few people like me in this world who desperately want to be thin.
I would call it a fair trade…to give up a couple years of my life in exchange for my ideal body. I might even believe I got the best end of the deal. I don’t know whether to be upset because I can’t make the exchange or to be horrified at the thought that the events of my life have created this intense desire in me to be very small. What I do know is this: I must be thin…maybe at any cost. I’m evidently willing to pay a price that a lot of people would never pay. And to feel good about what I got for what I paid.