Full Life Reflections

Striving for happiness, peace, and fulfillment in a chaotic world

There have been many books written on the topics of eating issues and body image, and I have read a number of them. When a new book in that genre is released these days, it has to be very special in order to catch my attention, if only for the reason that I must have read at least a hundred such books in my lifetime. One book which I can wholeheartedly recommend is “Unbearable Lightness” by Portia de Rossi. Although I have only read half of this book thus far, I have no hesitation in recommending it for the readers of “Body Image Rehab.”

Portia de Rossi is best known for her role on “Ally McBeal” and for being the wife of comedienne and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres. Although she looks healthy and vibrant today, what many people didn’t know until recently was that she suffered from severe anorexia and bulimia for many years. She details her struggle in highly open, honest, and poignant terms in her new book.

For most of my adult life, I’ve either weighed too much or too little. I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve been at a happy, healthy, and comfortable weight. I want to believe that I can turn this around and find balance in this area of my life, but sometimes it’s difficult to remain optimistic. This post focuses on my struggle to maintain my weight and looks at some of the potential reasons for this phenomenon. I also explore ways to achieve balance in terms of both weight and self-image.

To my one and only miraculous body,

It has taken me over 44 years to truly appreciate and accept you. I am writing this letter as a way to express my appreciation and ask for your forgiveness for my past indiscretions.

For most of my life, I have waged a war against you because you didn’t look the way I wanted. I’d look in the mirror and lament what was wrong and missing; that was all I could see. I was upset that I didn’t have the body of a supermodel and didn’t possess many of the attributes deemed desirable in our society. I didn’t have blond hair or blue eyes and my hips and thighs weren’t slim and narrow. I cursed my natural curves and did whatever I could to completely obliterate them.

I’ve lost a bit of weight lately… I’m not sure how much since I don’t weigh myself very often, but my clothes are looser and my stomach is surprisingly flat. While I am happy to be feeling leaner, my weight loss is somewhat of a “hollow victory” and I find myself having mixed feelings about it. I’ve lost the weight as a result of a health condition that has been causing me a great deal of distress in recent weeks (and the reason why I didn’t post a blog entry last week).

This is different from “one stomach flu away from goal weight” a la Emily in “The Devil Wears Prada.” While it’s decidedly no fun to have the flu, one knows that it will eventually end and she will be back to feeling like her normal self in a matter of days. Unfortunately, I’m not sure when I’ll be back to my “normal self.” Instead, it’s entirely possible that I will end up with a new definition for normal. My condition has a tendency to be chronic and difficult to treat, and it’s made it challenging for me to eat all that much food for a number of days now. In fact, I may end up losing more weight than I ideally want to lose as a result of my being on a continuous diet of sorts.

I recently read an article in People Magazine about plus-sized model Crystal Renn. The article mostly focused on a recent retouching scandal in which Crystal had been made to look shockingly thin by a photographer in a fashion spread. While unrealistic retouching of photos is definitely a valid issue worthy of discussion, what I want to focus on in this post is the definition of “plus-sized” and how outrageous it has become.

Crystal Renn is 5’9,” weighs 150 pounds, and wears a size 10, yet she is considered one of the most successful plus-sized models in the industry. The mind boggles that size 10 is now regarded as plus-sized. If you look at the photo of Crystal in her swimsuit in the People article, you’ll see a slim and fit looking woman who does not appear to be overweight or even particularly voluptuous.