Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Weight-preoccupation and the holidays

I have been super busy with the end of term in late November, finishing my novel that I wrote in 26 days for National Novel Writing Month, and the holidays, so I apologize for my lack of posting lately.

But while I was on my blog break I was dealing with a problem that I have been thinking about recently from a feminist perspective. It's a problem that many women face in this society that (no matter how many exceptions anyone tries to name) pushes women to extremes when it comes to their physical appearance. The issue I have been facing has been weight-preoccupation.

It isn't an eating disorder like anorexia or bulimia, but it is a real problem. Personally, my weight-preoccupation means that I get so concerned about what I eat and how it effects my outward appearance that I end up feeling bad about myself to the point of my bad feelings consuming my thoughts. When I was in high school these feelings often meant that I would eat a meal, feel bad about it, and exercise until I worked off all the calories I had just consumed (and then some). I used to spend hours riding a bike every day in order to justify eating a full meal. Now it just means feeling guilty and unattractive, which isn't any better.

The holidays are awful for me when it comes to my relationship with food and my feelings of self-worth. I'm home from college which means more food is available to me, and it also means that my family is baking a lot more than usual. Cookies, breads, and lots of other sweets are in abundance around here and every time I put something in my mouth, I am overwhelmed with a feeling of shame. Luckily I have not reverted to my old habit of exessive exercise, but that means I am left feeling unattractive. All because I indulged in a little holiday cheer.

It makes me so mad when I feel like this, but that doesn't help make it go away. I know that I am a beautiful person because of my accomplisments and what I have to offer as a person. But it seems that during the holidays none of that matters because all I can focus on is how unattractive I must be for eating some cookies...because the women on TV and in the magazines scattered around my house, none of them look like they have eaten any cookies.


lindsay said...

I always feel torn between my desire to be healthy - not losing weight but being healthy in all aspects, mentally, physically, emotionally, etc - and the conflicting messages around me of enjoyment of the holidays and society's view of women.

If anything, remember that lots of people all don't define your worth by the food going in and out of your mouth, but by your presence in their lives - me included.

Lindsay said...

Amelia, Lindsay,

Have either of you heard of the blog Every Woman Has an Eating Disorder? Ever since I found it, I've been pondering the truth of that statement. (The blogger doesn't actually believe *EVERY SINGLE WOMAN EVER* has a diagnosable eating disorder, but she does believe the vast majority have some kind of food or body-image issue that messes with their heads and skews their relationships with food and exercise).

Amelia said...

I had not heard of the blog. Thanks for the link, though Lindsay. I'll have to check it out.

Colt said...

The honesty in this blog was amazing. I haven't been around lately so I don't know if your always this honest. But if you are good for you. I have no idea what to say to that but just wanted to give you props for being so honest.

Amelia said...

Thanks, Colt. I'm grateful that you took the time to read this. :)

lindsay said...

I have seen Every Woman Has An Eating Disorder - pretty interesting stuff.