This is a bit late for Valentine’s Day, which is a pity because it is one of the few “Hallmark Holidays” that we celebrate, largely because it is also the anniversary of Fat Fella and my first proper “date”, some 29 years ago now.
I often think how lucky I am to have found Fat Fella. Back in the day, when we met, he was a rather Fit Fella, and I was a considerably leaner person than I am today. Even so, I never felt that what we felt about one another was based on how we looked. Sure, we were attracted to one another, and we still (very kindly) tell one another how gorgeous the other one is (looking at the pair of us, you might struggle to believe this, but fortunately beauty is in the eye of the beholder, etc, etc). But he has never made me feel as if I had to look good in order for him to carry on loving me.
I have a friend whose experience was quite different. She developed a crush on a chap who was quite a bit older than she was. She was a vibrant, bouncy attractive woman with very generous curves. He was skinny, pale, had a “difficult” personality and was not attractive in appearance or manner. He also made it clear that he was not attracted to my friend as he did not find “big” women appealing.
Now, what would you do in this situation? Move on and find someone as full of life and joy (and dinner) as you? Or would persist in your unrequited affections and actually go on a diet to get thin so that he would “like” you? That’s crazy, surely? Yet that is exactly what she did. Eventually he “deigned” to get together with her when she fitted his expectations of what a woman should look like.
She, of course, duly got pregnant and he insisted that they marry before the baby was born (as I mentioned, he is a much older man, and is also socially very conservative). Her wedding pictures (none of her friends were invited to attend the tiny, rushed civil service) show her big and uncomfortable at 8 months pregnant. When she got her baby home, we went to visit. What a skinny little thing the baby was. Do you know why? He was starving because she had gone on a crash diet while breast feeding. Fortunately, sense prevailed and she started eating properly and he grew bonny and well. And she was also bonny and well and fairly chubby. It seemed that her husband still found her attractive enough to impregnate her again, but after the birth of her second child her weight really ballooned.
Her marriage did not appear to be a happy one. Her husband would humiliate her in public by making fat jokes at her expense. If you offered her a slice of cake, he would jump in and say she couldn’t have it. She took to secret eating. And she got bigger and bigger. Then she discovered one of those really severe calorie restricted meal replacement diets. She excelled at it and lost a huge amount of weight. The husband was delighted. Then she confided in me that she was throwing up after binge eating. In high school she had suffered from anorexia and bulimia. I begged her to think carefully about what she was doing to herself. Fortunately, she had enough sense to recognise the danger she was in, and she came off the diet. It didn’t take very long for the weight to pile back on.
Today, many years later, she is still married to her skinny disapproving husband. They live completely separate lives because he fears that she will infect him with corona virus (she works in a hospital). I haven’t seen her for many months and when I next do, I could not tell you if she will be enormously fat or painfully thin. I do know that her teenage daughter seems to be following in her mother’s footsteps and after being a fairly rounded youngster is now receiving treatment for anorexia.
It is astonishing how things carry on from generation to generation. I always believed that my friend became anorexic because while still quite a young child (10 years old) her parents sent to Weight Watchers. I guess she was a big child, but you have to wonder why her parents were so concerned about it at such an early age? What had her mother been like as a teenager? She was a big woman by the time I knew her, but always very concerned about how heavy people were. Is there a genetic predisposition to this kind of bother with weight and eating? Or is it all about societal pressures and expectations?
My children are adopted, so I can discount any genetic factor with them, and I must admit that neither of them seem to have serious issues around food. Captain Shoelace is indeed, very thin, but also strong and fit. Captain Jellybean got really tubby a few years back, then gently shrunk back to a “normal” size once she got through puberty. It may be that my somewhat unhealthy relationship with food will emerge in them eventually – I couldn’t say. But I am doing my damndest not to let food become a big issue in our house.
As for Fat Fella and me, our chubby days are far from over, but I believe we are on the right track. He has completely given up drinking alcohol (he plans to stick to this for 12 months), which is most impressive, and I am continuing with my steady exercise and slight calorie reduction regime. The past couple of months contained Christmas, both of our birthdays and a bereavement. All of which are usually terrible triggers for excess. I think I have managed to contain it, though, and my weight is holding steady. I have lost 15kg (33 lbs) in 5 months, which is not too bad really.