I write this having just returned from a trip home to the UK where I went for Easter lulz/to see my family/to sit on an unholy number of trains because my boyfriend forgot to MOT his car in time for my long-awaited and glorious homecoming (not bitter) (I am)/to undertake a military operation for the mass redeployment of an inordinate amount of Malteser Bunnies from the supermarket shelves of the South East to my kitchen cupboard in Madrid.
And I went to the doctor there, too.
If you’ve read anything of my blog, you’ll know that my periods stopped after I messed up my bod’s balance with dieting and over-exercise. I’ve had all the tests in the book to try and account for its disappearance but my hormone levels have all come back as normal, my thyroid is as active as it need be and I’m not preggo with the world’s laziest foetus who has just been maxin’ and relaxin’ in my womb for the last two years.
And so my doctor’s advice this time?
Put on 10 pounds.
It was what I was expecting. Even though I am not, and never have been, clinically underweight, and even though my BMI has never dipped below the ‘healthy’ level (obvs, we’re all up on the fact that BMI is mad flawed though, no?), I know that my body is not at a weight it’s happiest at.
The doctor asked me how I felt about putting some weight and I zoomed into the depths of my psyche. How do I really feel about putting on 10 pounds? Before we go any further I'd like to acknowledge the intense privilege I possess in this realm, in that, being white, able-bodied, cisgendered and slim means that putting on 10 pounds means I would still fit within the horribly tiny parameters of what society deems an 'acceptable' and more widely-represented body- something that, unfortunately, would not be granted to many other people. Hence why we gotta take down diet culture, peepz! But still, for me, it’s one thing that’s it’s probably the first spring time in about 10 years that I haven’t been frantically attempting to ‘slim down for summer’, it’s another to actively be eating even more tortilla just before bikini season. Right now, I feel pretty OK about it, but the fact that I even had to weigh it up (will write punz for $$$ or €€€ or basically any currency that isn't the inevitably ill-fated £££)- that I had to pit the importance of my physical health versus the value of my dress size- shows how I, someone who writes a blog condemning the evils of dieting and body shame, is still prone to thinking some mad internalised fatphobic thoughts. I mean, this is the toss-up here:
It’s not having peace of mind or an extra 10 pounds.
It’s not having a regular menstrual cycle or an extra 10 pounds.
It’s not having a healthy reproductive system or an extra 10 pounds.
It’s not having the capacity to (hopefully) have children, one of the things that I most want out of life, or
Being that I tend to wrap myself in a protective social media cotton wool cocoon made of body luv and fat acceptance, sometimes I kind of slip into an ideal world where diet culture doesn’t exist. But there it was, solid proof that the oppressive fatphobic regime is alive and well and evidently claiming squatters’ rights in the back of my brain, although it has been a v. quiet tenant for the last six months or so. If diet culture, in its insidious and pervasive nature, wasn’t still affecting me, that whole evaluation wouldn’t have happened, because it wouldn’t have occurred to me that weight gain, especially weight gain for health reasons, could be considered a bad thing.
If I needed even further proof that diet culture is alive and well in others as well as myself, and unfortunately in some people I truly, genuinely adore, I need have only waited 24 hours. The day after I went to the doctor, I went to see someone I properly love. After a few months of not seeing me, they said I looked ‘great’, ‘amazing’ and ‘tiny’ (POOR ME, RIGHT? But really, why are these words synonymous?). They asked what I had been doing to lose weight. I quickly retorted that I had been just trying to eat like a normal person for about a year and, in fact, that I actually wanted to put on some weight so I could get my period back. The response?
Just put on a little bit.
10 pounds? No, don’t put on that much.
I have been pretty upset about this exchange for a few days and I have found it so hard to articulate what I wanted to take from the experience. For once, I can’t put it in to nice flouncy prose with a few off-the-cuff, niche, UK-based snack references, so here’s my main points to draw from it all.
If a person is not qualified to do so:
Don’t let them tell you anything about your body.
Don’t let them tell you anything about your weight.
Don’t let them tell you what you should and shouldn’t eat.
Thin is not synonymous with healthy.
When I was thinner and dieting, I was totally unhealthy. I didn’t nourish my body properly, I couldn’t draw my thoughts away from food for longer that a few seconds and I cried at the prospect of eating pizza.
Your worth does not correlate to your weight.
You are not less worthy if you put on weight.
You are no less 'great' or 'amazing' if you are not 'tiny'.
Challenge your diet thoughts.
Challenge those who, perhaps unintentionally, perpetuate diet culture.
Challenge yourself to accept your bod.
Wear the bloomin' bikini. Eat the effin’ pizza.