Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Things I Didn't Say

It looks like I'm going down to London on Saturday to have photos taken for this magazine article. I'm kind of excited about the professional hair and makeup, nice clothes and decent photos side of it. But I'm getting more and more apprehensive about what the article is going to say.

I know, I know. I've said it every time I read a "My Amazing Weight Loss" story, but somehow, in between the stress of getting everything done before my holiday and a glass or seven of red wine, I seemed to lose sight of it. And so, throughout the interview it seemed like she was digging for quotes to back up the story she wanted to write, rather than letting me tell the story I wanted to tell. And being a little hungover, tired, and fragile, I may have eventually given her some rather than standing my ground.

She wanted me to say how awful it was to be fat, how losing weight changed my life, and how the world is a brighter, more friendly place now. And that's bollocks. I was never unhappy with my weight. Of course, I knew it wasn't fantastic for my health, but I knew the risks, and at the time the risks were acceptable to me. I hadn't suffered any health problems, and I knew how much effort losing the weight would be, and at the time my priorities meant that I wanted to focus on other things rather than spending the amount of time it would take with exercise, planning my food, and dedication to the cause, to lose weight.

I guess I'm not your stereotypical woman, and never have been. My brains have always been more important to me than my looks. So I concentrated on my degree, and my masters, and my LPC. I concentrated on doing well enough in the training contract to get the job I'd set my heart on when I qualified. Because I've never been particularly interested in getting into a relationship, I've never felt the need to use my looks to attract men (or indeed women). If someone liked me for my personality, that would be fantastic, but any relationship based on physical attraction would be doomed anyway, so not something I wanted to encourage.

And equally, losing weight has made me thinner, and healthier, and fitter. But it hasn't made me happier. It hasn't got me the man of my dreams. All the other issues are still there. Don't get me wrong, I like being able to shop for smaller clothes, and run marathons and such like. But it isn't the be all and end all, and if I was given the opportunity to swop it for the intellectually stimulating and well paying job of my dreams (the one that probably doesn't exist...), then I might well do that. If something really important to me stopped me running because it was a higher priority than running at that time, then so be it. I might be happier fatter. Who knows.

Part of the problem is that two issues are so closely intertwined. The issue the article is about, and the issue that dare not raise its head in a national glossy magazine. My sexuality and my weight are so intertwined in my head that it's hard to separate the two without feeling like I'm only scratching the surface of the story. But there's no way I wanted to open that whole can of worms for that story. I may "come out" about it eventually, but on my terms, and not as a side issue to a weight loss story.

But it all ties together. She kept on pushing. Why weren't you unhappy when you were fat? Because I knew that I could lose weight, but I didn't want to because I was scared of the potential power of being thin and young and pretty. I wanted to protect myself behind a layer of fat, so that I didn't need to confront the other issues going on in my life. Being fat was better than being thrown to the lions in a club or a bar, and not knowing how to deal with a persistent and drunk man. Better to make myself utterly unappealing than to face that issue. But how do you explain that without opening the whole issue up?

Then talking about relationships. What difference has it made? Well, none, actually. I was single before, I was single throughout and I'm single now. She smells something. Were you single because you were ashamed of your weight? It's the whole chicken and egg thing. Was I? Did my weight colour my view of my own sexuality so much that it destroyed any latent desire I ever had? Or did my weight issues arise as a defence mechanism to stop me having to confront the issue (I know I said that I used them in that way later on, but when they first started, was that a deliberate act, or was it only later that I started doing that?). I really didn't want to talk about all this stuff, it's not something you can explain in a 400 word bright and breezy piece, and it's certainly not stuff I'd be comfortable having published. But how can you explain the emotional impact your weight, and the loss of it, has had, without picking up the most important part of it?

I just feel like the article isn't going to tell the truth, whatever that is, and that it will be a disappointment when I see it. The whole thing is so much more complex than she seemed to realise, and until I confronted the sexuality issues I was never going to lose weight, or even try. It was that, rather than an unkind comment or holiday snap that started the whole thing.

Maybe if I'd had confidence in her as an interviewer I'd have opened up more, I don't know. But I'm already starting to regret the whole thing, and I've not even seen it yet.


Blogger Sushi Penguin said...

I think you hit the bull's eye. Despite weightloss (and thinnes in general) being so often portrayed as happiness, it is far from that. Life would be too simple if losing X pounds meant instant happiness. You might become happier than before, but not necessarily happy. I doubt there are many people out there for whom weight constitutes the only life issue.

Totally understand your apprehension about the article. I hope the writer got at least a tiny bit of what you were trying to convey.

3:14 AM  
Blogger Jackie said...

First of all. What article? Did I miss the entry???

Also, it cracks me up, me being from Canada and you from UK, the terms you use. Im sure you laugh at my terms too. But what is bollocks???? lol

Nice entry. I love reading all your entries. xo

4:01 PM  
Blogger YP said...

Bollocks has several meanings. One being, erm, testicles, and another being complete rubbish.

It's an article I agreed to do just before I went away, which I only briefly mentioned. It should be out in January.

10:04 PM  
Blogger K said...

Given that I never feel I got my story over correctly when I go to the doctor's (which doesn't even compare to the stress of going through an interview for a published article) I'm not surprised you feel you didn't tell the whole story.

And I think you're quite right: in a 400-word piece, it's impossible to deal with that kind of thing.

I hope that the journalist does write something you find acceptable (even if it is fairly superficial, as is the nature of these things) but at least, because you're being realistic, you won't be shocked and feel betrayed if you're not entirely happy with it.

Journalists do get things wrong. But today's article is tomorrow's chip papers. Obviously it seems huge to you: most people will read it and forget it. Which is annoying in a way...

I think your rationale for concentrating on other things at another period of your life is totally understandable. And I was always deeply uncomfortable with people fancying me, too - I always thought they were winding me up - until I met my husband, who is the only person I've ever met that I'm actually attracted to. So that too seems understandable.

All the interesting people are complicated. Simple motivations are usually dubious, I think.

12:21 AM  
Blogger K said...

Oh, dear, that comment got huge, didn't it?

12:22 AM  
Blogger Shauna said...

beautifully said..
i think they just have a template for weight loss stories in magazines "X lost Y kilos in Z weeks and she's now infinitely happier and healthier" insert photos here! no matter how hard you try to get your message across they've already got their formula. but will still be great to be pampered and have some kick ass photos :) hope you have a good time in london!

12:06 PM  
Blogger AnaBell said...

Every time I start writing about this, the whole thing ends up being like an encylopedia entry so I just give up. It really is a complicated subject. But at least you know you tried to explain her your reality.
And you got an amazing photo.

12:00 AM  

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