I have a good friend. Call her Christina. We’ve been friends since college. We had a lot of friends in common in high school but, as far as either of us remembers, we weren’t friendly way back when. In our twenties, we (briefly) did a little dance. We “fooled around” (what nowadays is called “hooked up”) once or twice. It wasn’t particularly good, as I recall. My friend is not my type. She’s taller than I am. Bigger than I am. Hot – don’t get me wrong. But not my type.
She was, in our twenties, good to me, in a variety of ways. One of which was supporting a cousin of mine who was contending with a ferocious case of anorexia. My friend, you see, had had her own struggles with eating disorders in her teens. And had emerged into her twenties with a seemingly healthy relationship to her weight, to her body.
Fast forward to today: Christina is successful, happy, married – mother to a couple of wonderful, challenging kids. Christina and I have Zoomed or chatted by phone together every few months during the pandemic (replacing quarterly or so lunches we used to have), sharing tales of parenting, and life.
In our most recent conversation, I somewhat naively (or carelessly, or selfishly, or cruelly, or cluelessly) mentioned my delight at having lost forty [and now, forty-five] pounds since June.
I had forgotten about Christina’s relationship to food, to weight. And, in particular, I had forgotten that Christina’s been on a bit of a mission lately to resist much of our culture’s fetishization of weight loss, its demonization of fat. [Just to say it, Christina’s not fat – she never has been, as long as I’ve known her.] Somehow, in my cluelessness, I was a little… tenacious… in my clinging to my joy and pride at my weight loss in the face of Christina’s almost reflexive recoil against the news. She wanted me to know how bad weight loss is, how unhealthy it is, how fucked up we are in how we think about weight, how much we mistakenly attribute all sorts of problems to weight when their causes properly can be attributed to other things.
If I’d had my wits about me, I’d have handled the conversation better than I did. In the event, I just kinda dug in on my own experience.
And here’s the thing: I’m sure my friend is right. The way we think about weight, the way we talk about weight, surely is deeply fucked up. Especially, but not exclusively, with respect to women. And I’m sure that all of her points, and her sub-points, are right.
For me, my weight loss has been, continues to be, an unabashed good thing. My body feels better. I’m in less pain. I just got my blood tests back from my doctor, and all the substances the levels of which had previously been concerning have returned to well within the “normal” range. My blood pressure is normal. Down from scarily high. In other words, I’m just plain healthier.
There’s no real point here, except that I failed as a friend, just a little. I suppose shit happens. And in any event, Christina and I have weathered far worse together. We’ll be fine.