Sometimes when I get feeling depressed; I have this urge to be very,very cynical and sarcastic and critical. But I don't like to take that out on actual people, since I really love people and hate knowing that I made someone else's life shittier than it has to be. So, this morning when I came across a popular weight loss propoganda, that spark of cynical irritation came flaring to life within me. Please join me in a virtual bashing as I dissect a portion of this interview process. Raise your glass of full fat mochacino to these poor, hungry women and in your other hand, wave a placard begging for a new definition of "success".
(Popular weight loss group, interviewing woman for their online "success story") :
"So, Susan; What combination of elements do you believe most contributed to your success?"
Joyce's cynical brain: By success, we can assume that you mean you managed to transform yourself from a fat leeching drain on society into a vibrant, thin, smart, happy, bright, addiction-free, recession-proof, happily married, perfect mother, crafting birthday party throwing pinata making aerobic genius? Because we all know that no one could possibly expect acceptance, love, flowers, or balloons if one is four to four hundred pounds overweight, right? And one could easily assume that it would be impossible to be happy or content unless one has found success via the golden calf of weight loss? But, hey. I could be wrong. So, let's give Susan a chance to answer the question, shall we?
Susan: I had lots of good support at home. My husband would come home from work early and baby-sit so I could go to Meetings.
Whoa! Susan!! Did you just say that your husband is a baby-sitter?! Whose children are they? The Schwanns man? Maybe your better chance at "success" is reminding your husband that a parent never baby-sits his or her own children. It's called parenting, and there is nothing particulary heroic about it.
I also decided "It's about me now."
Why does it make me consistently and completely crazy whenever these words are spoken? Even when my counsellor would suggest that I should "Put myself back in the equasion", I wanted to spit. Maybe it's just semantics, but it sounds so bloody selfish. Don't we live in a culture where it's always "about me"? Don't we need to hear something way more revolutionary like "It's about loving your neighbour. It's about finding yourself through losing yourself. It's about finding wealth by giving it all away. It's about letting it all go."
I had done a lot for everyone else, so now it was time to focus on me.
That sounds sort of good. That sounds almost charitable. But it sounds so mutually exclusive. Weird, how that just feels like a punch in the gut. Kind of reminds me of when men leave their marriage of 25 or 28 years, finally seeing the light of "looking after themselves" and figuring out that they're really "just not that into you" any more. Maybe I'm reading a lot into this, but isn't that just crazy selfish? Wrong? Don't we sort of innately focus on our selves, navel gazing, sweating, stressing, thinking it's all about us?
I wanted to be as young as I could for as long as I could, and I knew I had to be slimmer to do that.
Because EVERYONE knows that its impossible to be fit and healthy unless you are also slim. No one believes those statistics about how unhealthy it is for women to be underweight, how they cease to menstruate, how they grow hair like fur to keep their arms warm, and how the hair on their heads starts to fall out in clumps. How they have to take supplemental pills because they are malnourished, how they are more prone to osteoperosis, anemia, brittle nails, dry skin... Just to mention a few.
I also wanted to wear cute clothes and I couldn't find any in my size!
hmmm... Okay. You've got a point there. And that is a way to measure success, for sure. It's hard to find fashionable mu mus, and it's frustrating to not fit your favourite clothes because you've had one wheel of Brie too many. But what if ultimately, success doesn't lie in the shape of our bodies? What if his constant barrage of weight-loss pressure is akin to a subtle conspiracy to make us ineffective in our worlds? What if we believe that we are successful, regardless of the weight we do or do not carry? The breasts that we love or hate? The stomachs flat or paunchy? What if we got so consumed and so heart broken about the huge, real needs in our peripheries, that the bodies we live in would be mere vehicles to take us where our hearts want to go?
How then would we measure success?
I don't know, Susan. Maybe you did experience some sort of personal revolution that also included the shape of your physical body. But I don't think I would represent just myself when I say that I would love to receive an inundation on the renewing of the mind. How I'd like to become a success story that would reflect a transformation by that type of renewal. How something began on the inside, around the area of my heart, and then radiated outward with continual concentric circles, spanning so very far away from "ME" that advice about "making it about me now" would seem obselete and ridiculous.
It is handy, and easily measured to just boil it down to the size and shape of the body though, I'll give you that. But personally, I think it's all a trick. It seems attainable, that type of success. whereas renewing a MIND? Whew! I guess that would be pretty hard to market, eh?
'Cuz what kind of tape measures and weigh scales could we possibly find to measure our success then, eh? Maybe you're onto something Susah. Congratulations on your ultimate success. Now go hire your husband to baby-sit your children and go for a run or something. That whole success thingie is pretty tenuous, you know...