This week I received a magazine, the cover story (complete with striking photo is of a model in a fat suit) is about why we’re “all” getting fatter.
Because I’m pretty untidy, it’s stayed on the edge of my desk. Numerous co-workers, none of them overweight, have stopped to show interest in the story, with various comments that indicate this anxiety you write about.
A very slim colleague of mine I hardly ever see eat talks constantly about food, eating and exercise. I made the decision to stop talking about food around her at all. Which highlighted to me just how many anxieties I have about food and weight and how much I talk about it.
I am slim myself, and have been for most of my adult life, with forays into disordered eating when under stress (there are still days that I miss those prominent hip bones I used to run my hands over). And yet I devour articles on “healthy” eating and weight loss and compare my diet as if I was the person that they speak of in their “how to lose 10 kilos in a week” stories (I don’t actually weigh myself because I know how obsessive I would become).
I know people who are heavier who constantly make comments about their weight, as if looking to me to reinforce the judgements they assume I have or that they have internalised. It’s hard to know how to respond at all.
It’s fraught. We need to carefully consider the messages we are sending and the messages we are taking on board. But not everyone is equipped to that, particularly young women exposed to the kind of media environment I could never have imagined when I was young.