Worth Your Weight

December 1, 2007

Thanks a lot, forgotten ’80s sitcom

Filed under: fat acceptance — worthyourweight @ 10:43 pm

doubletroubleindeed.jpg

So Kate Harding’s post last week about an article on how fat people don’t set an ideal weight that falls in the normal BMI category reminded me of the first goal weight I ever set for myself. I had gotten fat around age 7 or 8. I had already accompanied my mom to a Weight Watchers meeting where I made a very big deal about losing half a pound. So I can’t really blame her for not being able to help me realize I was fine the way I was. She was mildly overweight as a teen, but made to feel like a blimp. To this day, she avoids looking in mirrors.

Unfortunately, I ended up learning from pop culture what I “should” weigh. And I believed this was a normal weight until I was around 26 years old. I wanted to weigh 95 pounds. Why? Because that’s what the sisters on “Double Trouble” weighed. Of all the episodes I watched and all the things featured in them, what’s stuck after two decades? Ninety-five pounds.

Sounds really stupid, doesn’t it? But where are we supposed to learn this stuff? Who will tell us we should weigh what we weigh … aim to maintain our natural weight without screwing it up by dieting? Our moms have been through the same anti-fat upbringing.  BMI tables are useless.

Kate’s beautifully illustrated BMI Project aptly shows how simplified the BMI standards are. They are also ludicrously arbitrary. I’m planning a future post that either summarizes or excerpts the history of the BMI tables from Glenn Gaesser’s Big Fat Lies, but if you don’t want to wait, then definitely give the book a try. Flipping a coin would be a less arbitrary way of determining one’s so-called “ideal” weight.

Oddly enough, it was another pop culture moment that enabled me to understand that women are “allowed” to weigh more than 100 pounds or even 125 pounds. A very normal looking contestant on a reality show who could not be described as too thin or even a little bit plump revealed her weight to be 140 pounds.

Now, I know that that is still a desirable weight for many, but it was 45 pounds over what I’d subscribed to as the ideal weight for a number of years. It was a revelation to me. The fat acceptance movement continues to open my eyes even wider.

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5 Comments

  1. The first time I remember being aware of my weight, I was 10 and I weighed 40kg (88lb. I was considerably taller than the other girls in my class and I was also carrying puppy fat. But I wasn’t as huge as they made out I was. I ended up as huge as they made out I was because I would go home after 7 hours straight of being teased and mocked for being fat and I would sit down and eat all the nice things my mother had cooked. It was a self fulfilling prophecy.

    Later when I was 15, I was desperate to be 60kg/132lb.I was 5’6″ at the time and 78kg/172lb. I proceeded to diet my way down to my goal, reaching it in 10 weeks by virtually starving myself and exercising for hours each day. No one seemed to realise what I was doing was unhealthy. They all thought it was great that I was losing weight. I would be so much healthier once I lost weight. It didn’t matter that I was existing on grated cheese and lettuce leaves. It didn’t matter that I was spending every spare moment I had exercising. It didn’t matter that I was secretly buying appetite suppressants from the pharmacy, which I suspect now were phen-fen but I haven’t been able to trace the name of the drug to check. All that didn’t matter because I was losing weight…

    Comment by chaoticheartt — December 2, 2007 @ 2:14 am

  2. […] 2007 @ 9:25 am } · { Uncategorized } { Tags: personal } I wrote this as a comment over at worthyourweight and I thought I would expand on it. The F-Word was talking the other day about the stories of our […]

    Pingback by My Fatz « Chewing the Fatz — December 2, 2007 @ 4:25 am

  3. 110 here. I was in Junior High and for the life of me, I cannot remember how I got into my barely pubecent head that a woman should weigh 110 lbs, but I carried that assumption for a few years, until I learned about bell curves. I was not, at the time, anywhere near 110 lbs, of course.

    Comment by Dancinghawk — December 3, 2007 @ 8:58 am

  4. Boy, do I hear you both, chaoticheartt and Dancinghawk.

    “I ended up as huge as they made out I was because I would go home after 7 hours straight of being teased and mocked for being fat and I would sit down and eat all the nice things my mother had cooked. It was a self fulfilling prophecy.”

    Thin people eat to console themselves as well. Did you diet after the teasing? If you did, that it what caused the prophecy to be self-fulfilling. It happened to me, too. And many others, including my mom.

    You start out slightly overweight — nothing to worry about. But people start in on you to lose: family, friends, doctors, teachers. The teasing torture begins. You diet in an attempt to conform. Diets make people fat(ter). After dieting several times, you weigh a lot more than where you started naturally. It’s a terrible thing to do to people.

    Comment by worthyourweight — December 7, 2007 @ 11:11 pm

  5. I had the same problem. I had it my head that the five foot plus five pounds for every inch was the standard to subscribe to and my parents and doctors seemed to believe it, too. It didn’t matter that I stopped have my TOM or that I was wearing the smallest jeans that most stores sold at the time. I never managed to get to that golden number. I think I managed to get awful close a number of times through vomiting after normal size meals, trying to eat only vegetables and overexercising (such as running in place for hours at a time.) Fortunately, I gave all that up when I started a summer job and I regained all the weight I lost and then some.

    My wonderful doctor at the time had no explanation for my lose of TOM since I was still ‘normal’ weight and previously I had been ‘overweight’.

    Comment by Lillian Mitchell — February 14, 2008 @ 11:29 pm


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