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"It's a size six day."
She was sitting with a friend, eating lunch, and she leaned over, a triumphant smile on her face. She sounded so proud when she said it.
I'm sure she had no idea she was overheard, but she had one of those voices that carries, and I wasn't the only one in the restaurant who turned.
I knew the type as soon as I heard the words. She is obsessed with her weight. A bit of water gain that pushes her into the next higher size and she's depressed. Wriggling into something smaller makes her day. Her emotional state, as well as her self-image, are heavily dependant on the number on the size tag of the clothes she wears..
One of the lesser rings of hell, I've decided, is to be surrounded by women who are weight-obsessed. I've known too many of them who focus endlessly on the numbers on a scale, who base their self-worth by what size dress they can fit into that day. They range from those who are unhealthily overweight and complain constantly about it yet refuse to do anything about it, to those that are a perfectly beautiful and healthy weight yet still think that they should be model thin, even though their body types clearly were not made for that. The one thing they have in common, though, is an obsession over weight. Meals become weapons, brandished over water cooler conversations. See how lowfat *I* ate today?
In my previous life (pre-computer nerd, that is) I was a graduate student in Nutrition. Granted, my focus was on fetal nutrition - a topic rather far removed from weight loss - and I was not a dietician, but that never stopped people. Invariably, as soon as the word 'Nutrition' left my mouth, the subject of weight loss would come up from one of these diet-obsessed females. What do you think about this one? What should I be eating? Is it true that ***insert latest over-hyped and obviously wrong food rumor here***?
At first I was naive. I thought they actually wanted real answers, so I'd give them honest replies. But I learned my lesson as, time after time, I watched the eyes glaze over. These women do not want to hear the truth. What they want is someone to tell them that the latest fad diet is the key to instant weight loss. They aren't interested in how to do it right, nor are they interested in being told that being healthy is far more important than being thin. They build their self-confidence with smug satisfaction of ounces lost and equate that to personal importance. They center their lives around physical appearance. For some of them, that's all they have.
Oh, don't get me wrong. I'd dearly love to be able to lose some weight and fit into some of the cuter outfits, and well, now that there's a wedding in the works for next year, maybe that will spur me back on track. But my weight does not define who I am. It's merely one aspect among many others, and a minor one at that. I suppose I was lucky in that I was raised by parents who didn't subscribe to the theory that a woman must have a man to feel validated, or that a woman's dress size dictated her success, or failure, in life.
"It's a size six day".
I wanted to go to her and tell her that there is so much more to her than that. Her intelligence, her quick wit, her smile. But I knew that she wouldn't listen. Women like her never do.