From Noble Cause to Obsession

2010-04-03 09:53

I AM the fat kid that grew into an obese adult, the one “admired” for her confidence by some skinny friends.

I refuse to whip my body for being fat, and I used to joke about having four chins and a stomach so huge it looked like a collision of the planets.

Then I decided I wanted to stop being obese. My lard attack featured hours of sweat sessions – dance, walking and swimming – which was not as difficult as the couch potato in me thought an exercise routine would be.

I also found it easy to stick to eating like French women; they eat everything in moderation and the fattening foods with extreme caution.

I admired going from eating anything, any time to being able to stick to the raw food diet.

At first every lost kilo was a victorious step away from the obesity that is rife in South Africa, especially among black women – one in three sisters is obese.

I was elated by my achievements as losing centimetres turned into dropped dress sizes, having one chin and progressing to gasps and comments about how I’ve “disappeared”.

Now?

I hate my shrinking body.

It has turned the noble act of avoiding health problems associated with obesity into an obsession with body image.

I have gone from being at peace with my body to hating that its shrunken state is not good enough now.

For instance, my stomach still refuses to act like it is under ­attack. And when the fat does ­finally shrink, I’ll be left with droopy skin that will make me look like an old woman.

My arms have gone from being just big to turning into unsightly bat wings that torment me every time I look at them, which happens to be a lot because I cannot believe the swimming I learned for their benefit has not had an effect.

I have also squatted until my thighs burn. Yet they are as thunderous as ever. Worse, the “rub-a-dub-dub” sound effect of big thighs is still the sound of Lerato approaching.

It’s hell and the devil sits on my bosom. The “twins” now look like a week old foetus. Wonder Bra, Victoria’s Secret, Temptations, Playtex and company are not made for small breasts on broad bodies.

Silicone pads and cup size boosters only serve women whose breasts are the size of olives.

So obese or shrinking, I still look “wow” only in my kaftans and their tent-like effects.

It’s a constant struggle; insecurity and fear have replaced pride and confidence. So much that I think a weave and nails from Korea will make me fit in.

I also need constant affirmation; calls to tell family they are loved have been replaced with pleas for validation. I snarl at people who knew me then, only calling me beautiful now.

Don’t get me wrong, I love that I am out of the obese zone. It’s healthy. But it has also burdened me with mainstream perceptions of what it means to be body beautiful.

Thinning has put me in the same box as women I used to find frivolous for hating that their bodies do not meet the standards of magazines and pop videos.

I am also not wild about my new relationship with food – you’d think it’s like heroin.

I hate socialising because not everyone thinks snacking on cucumber and tomatoes is better than a handful of junk food.

Friends are a bit of a pain because they want to host me over carbohydrate-loaded meals when I would prefer hanging out where we sweat.

Now every kilo lost is a struggle to not go back to being obese.

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