Years ago when I first set out to and successfully lost weight, I worked in an office dominated by middle-aged women with children. I was a sort of anomaly, 22 and childless, but we all soon became compatriots in the battle of the bulge.
At first the weight came off slowly. But after a few months, I’d be confronted by fat middle-aged women in the break room at the water machine, passing by in the hall, even in the bathroom. I was like Oz, the wizard of weight loss and they all desperately wanted to know my secrets.
A look behind the curtain, of course, would reveal a cycle of purging and eventually, fasting, but I kept these things to myself and dispensed the mantra of Dr. Atkins like some Machiavellian girl scout.
Inspired by my loss, it wasn’t long after that the Atkins craze hit my company with hurricane-gale force. We commiserated over the sad and tragic loss of bread from our newly instituted low-carb diets. We exchanged recipes on how to make low-carb pumpkin mousse that, if you close your eyes and imagine really hard, kinda-sorta-not-really tasted like pumpkin pie. Countless recipes were devised using pork rinds.
It wasn’t until some time after I left the company I realized, I never really liked my job. But I sure missed my old “friends.”
MSNBC reported today on a fact that all women have been aware of since at least middle school: that we bond over “fat talk.” A study conducted by researchers at Appalachian State University revealed that women feel pressured to expose negative things about their bodies in a group of females engaging in “fat talk.”
“Because women feel pressured to follow the fat talk norm, they are more likely to engage in fat talk with other females,” said study co-author Denise Martz. “Hence, women normalize their own body dissatisfaction with one another.”
This is news? I mean, it isn’t as if women’s magazines and television commercials don’t already overflow with articles on celebrity weight-loss tips, diet plans, and features on dressing thinner. Hallmark even prints weight-loss motivation cards.
Dieting, besides being a multi-million dollar industry, has become a female bonding rite-of-passage. Oprah’s viewers cheered when she “victoriously” slid into those size-10 Calvins.
Maybe it’s because Brandon, Lisa and my sister Megan are now my only real “close” friends and none of us really care about the size of our thighs. Or it could be because my coworkers and I are just too busy reporting the news to engage each other in chats about our chub. But I don’t really find myself drawn to “fat talk” like I was before.
There are so many better and more productive things to be concentrating on.