Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Schrödinger's Dick and Denying My Femininity

(Subtitle: Why the idea of "go take a bubble bath" sucks.)

My friend, Jeanne, brought me this book: Neris and India's Idiot-Proof Diet to take a look at. She said she doesn't quite follow their diet ideas as being "easy and idiot-proof" and at first glance I'm inclined to agree with it. Looks complicated, and any diet where you have to take 8 different vitamin supplements is - in my humble opinion - just wrong! Diet part of it aside, most diet books don't actually contain 250 pages of dry, boring, gastronomical information... and this would be the part my friend thought I would find interesting. The non-eating part, the, as you may, philosophy behind the plate.

Last night, I read about half this book.

Someone take away my stick before I beat these two women to death.

I started out with a dislike of India almost immediately. I understand that part of their "point" is to take away all those soft curvy lies that we (I love how they love to speak for "all women" here. I call BULLSHIT!) women use to placate ourselves about our weight issues. However, I find the last paragraph of her "How I got here" spiel to be particularly offensive.

"It wasn't okay. It didn't look nice, or even a little bit nice. It was utterly grotesque. A few times in the previous couple of months, I'd decided at the last minute not to attend a party that I'd really been looking forward to. I told my boyfriend it was because I was tired. I wasn't tired at all. I was too fat. I had, for the first time ever, become embarrassed to be seen in public, is the truth of it. I had nothing to wear. I was Giant bloody Haystacks."

Given, that in this particular little rant of self-loathing, she's in a size 18 (a size, as you may recall, I was personally thrilled to get into)... well, let's just say I didn't have loads of sympathy for her.

Following this particularly long and vile outspewing, they spend a lot of time trying to tell you (the faithful reader) that in order to follow a diet plan and lose weight, you must love yourself first.

Can I beat my head on the wall, please? How many activity points is that? Better yet, can I beat HER head against the wall, please.

Didn't we just go into long details about how much they hated themselves? And, by implication, if a size 18 is grotesque, surely a size 24 in the height of repulsiveness. How, then, having freshly come from this, is the reader supposed to turn it all around with a short list of things they like about themselves?

Keeping in mind that these two ladies are British, and the brits have an entirely different philosophy on life (no offense to whomever reads this blog that might be British) that totally doesn't agree with how I live and how I think... they recommend getting a diet buddy and then not telling anyone else that you're doing a food plan. At all. They do condescend to say that you don't have to follow this advice, but doing so will prevent other nosy people from telling you what you can and can't eat and giving you odd looks and then if you don't do so well, you won't feel you let people down.

I've found that being accountable to someone or something else other than myself really helps me. If nothing else, my pride doesn't want to let me fail. I can't bear the idea of all my friends thinking that I'm a complete fuck up. Even if they wouldn't think that - and trust me, I doubt my friends actually would - I would feel that they did. I used that pride to help me quit smoking. Pride may be one of God's seven deadly sins, but I totally believe that's because pride makes us rely on ourselves, rather than God, and God is a bit of a jealous bastard.

Then... and here comes the bit where I want to scream... there comes The List.

The List is that catalogs all the things they can think of that are non-food ways to reward yourself. Or show yourself some "real love", as they call it.

The List shows up in every freaking diet book and plan on the planet.

Inevitably, on the list, are these things: take a bubble bath, get a pedicure, buy something, take a walk, get a massage, watch a girlie movie, get a make over.

Indulge me a moment.

Take. A. Bubble. Bath.

Excuse me. Please. What the fuck? Is there some guide for "female relaxation methods" that was published in the 1800's that applies to all women, universally, and I missed it?

Take a bath? What?

This is supposed to make me feel better?

Ok, let's look at this for just a minute. We have someone (ourselves) who, for whatever reason, has decided to go on a diet/foodplan/lifestyle change/whathaveyou. And you're telling me that I'll feel better... by getting naked, hoping in the tub, and soaking my troubles away. Calgon, take me away!

I don't know what kind of bath tub these ladies have, but... mine's a 3/4 sized tub. I barely FIT in the freaking thing. Filling it up as close to full as I can, I can... get about 1/2 of myself wet at a time. So, I can soak my butt. And watch my boobs, belly, and thighs protruding out of soap suds like some blubbery islands. Or I can lay propped on my elbows, with my feet sticking out, and my butt and back freezing off. The top half of me is cold, the bottom half, too warm. I can't move around easily - shaving my legs while in the tub usually makes my hip hurt. And getting OUT of the bath is a major effort - generally involving my using both hands and wondering if the support bar is going to give way at any minute.

How, exactly, is this supposed to make me feel better?

I spend 15-20 minutes being uncomfortable, confronted - brutally so - with all my naked lack of glory. (That is, of course, assuming that Darcy doesn't come looking for me in the first three minutes, ask me what I'm doing, complain she doesn't have any juice, and offer to squirt me with her bath toys - and their cold water that's still inside them from her last bath...)

I've talked to several heavy-set friends of mine. None of them enjoy taking a bath. I've even talked to my skinny friend, and she says "Not especially. I get bored." She thought it was an interesting question and polled her friends. I got answers back like this:

  • I never take a bath.
  • I prefer showers.
  • Sometimes. I find it more trouble than it's worth.
  • The bubbles get in my hair.
  • I'm too fat in the water.
  • I feel like a dirty teabag soaking in dirty water.

So, why, tell me, does everyone suggest this?

Some of the other suggestions, manicure, pedicure, massage: I understand that other people like these things, but I don't. First off, I'm excessively uncomfortable with people I don't know well touching me. I really don't like it.

Secondly, I have this issue with manicured nails. I did it for a while, back when I worked at a convenience store, and honestly, the money I put into my nails was something I couldn't really afford, but I did it anyway. And then I noticed that the more elaborate the acrylic nail job was on other women, the less good jobs they had. Ticket takers, cashiers, waitresses... It seemed (to me) to be a badge of the lower class; see, I can afford to get my nails done! The more wealthy women had the silk wraps, and simple, understated nails, if they bothered to get their nails done at all. I couldn't afford the acrylics, so the silk was decidedly out. (Not to mention the stuff smells terrible and it hurts like hell when one of the nails pops off...) And, in talking to some guys, most of them don't even notice the nail job, unless it's badly done, and the ones that do notice it don't really like it. The acrylic nails don't "feel" real against the skin during a particularly passionate kiss, and thus, aren't very appealing to men. So, I stopped doing it.

Third, the idea of a pedicure makes my skin crawl. I don't want someone messing with my feet, thanks. (Also, I currently have a nail fungus that while I've gotten it to stop spreading, will take the better part of at least another year before my toenails stop looking weird and yellow and thick, and I can't have polish on my nails until it's gone. And I don't want anyone really observing my feet very closely while I'm taking care of that.

Fourth: I don't like professional massages. I've gotten them as gifts a few times. Aside from the general creeped out from having some strange person touching my back, the process itself tends to be painful and I feel like complete crap afterwards. That's probably my own fault, as I have no idea how to communicate my feelings to a masseuse. But at $50 a pop, I don't think it's worth the money to learn. My husband does a perfectly good job at helping me relax with a back rub, and I don't spend all my time wondering why he is doing it. (I have that problem with some types of doctors, too. I can't imagine, for instance, that the money is good enough to be a gynecologist, for example. Or a dentist. Or a proctologist. I could go on for a while, but you get the idea...)

Fifth: I don't wear makeup. Almost never. I don't do a good job applying it. I never know what to buy. I don't know how to use what I've got. And I never, ever look better wearing makeup. If I'm very lucky, I don't look worse. And frankly, I'm not interested in spending the money to learn that particular "feminine skill" either.

Sixth: I don't like girlie movies, 90% of the time. I think Julia Roberts is a plague upon the face of the earth. I don't like deliberate "make you cry" movies, and I think the whole genre of romantic comedy was made by some cruel writer and directors who have are acting out some teenage angst fantasy and putting their worst rivals in the position of the heroine. Romantic comedies always have these... wincey, cringey, public humiliation scenes that make me desperately ashamed of my species.

I mean, I know... these are just to give me "some ideas." But I find it difficult to not have the idea of strangling the idiots who assume that all women are the same. Do you know how many pairs of shoes I own? Five. My idea of a good movie tends to have lots of explosions, snappy one liners, and martial arts. Or aliens. I've never seen the inside of a Macy's or Dillards. I wouldn't know what to do with a $100 shopping spree at the perfume counter.

I'm just not a woman's woman.

[Obie was making sure, and it was about four or five hours later that Alice (remember Alice? This is a song about Alice), Alice came by and with a few nasty words to Obie on the side, bailed us out of jail, and we went back to the church, had another thanksgiving dinner that couldn't be beat,and didn't get up until the next morning, when we all had to go to court.]

Then (and this is as far as I've gotten in the book, and probably as far as I intend to get) there's this little gem:

If you haven't lost any weight, you haven't been following the diet properly. It's as simple as that. You've either cheated, or some carbs have snuck in when you weren't looking... Vigilance, my dears, at all times. We mean it when we say that the smallest indulgence will completely derail the diet at this stage. Consider yourself chastised and go back to Day One. The thing about our diet is, it works. All you have to do is do it properly.

Yeah. There couldn't possibly be anything wrong with the diet plan of a couple of ladies with no formal education in medicine, dietary needs, or nutrition. It must be YOU, the reader, who's doing something wrong. You must be a cheater! Shame! Shame!

Fuck that.

Anyways... at bed time last night, while doing my nightly routine, I was noticing something. I used to have one roll of belly fat. Then, for a while, I had two. Last night, I noticed that I now have three distinct jelly rolls. One that starts under my boobs and ends just at my sternum. Then another that starts at the sternum and ends at about my navel. Then the third starts at the navel and hangs over my waist. YUCK.

And the skin on my belly is a little too big for these rolls, so I have all the lovely skin texture of an orange. Dimpled, is what Thomas called it, when I complained about it to him.

"Definitely unattractive," I muttered. "And it's only likely to get worse as I lose more weight. How lovely. I'll be thinner, but I'll have all this baggy skin all everywhere. Nasty."

"Leslie doesn't have baggy skin," he suggested. Leslie is this girl at our weight watcher's meetings that I really like and think she looks marvelous. She's about 25 pounds from goal, but I think she's just perfect as is.

"You don't know that," I said. "Her clothes cover it up." I notice she never wears shorts. Or sleeveless shirts.

"Pfft. If I can't see it, it doesn't exist."

"Dear heart," I said, hands on my hips. "Most people can't see your dick, either, but I assure you, it is always there."

"Maybe not," he said. "Maybe I have Schrödinger's dick."

"I think I'll go sleep on the sofa, now."


Anonymous said...

For the record...

1: I do not enjoy baths, generally speaking. I get bored, and spend the whole time trying to figure out how to get my whole body under the warm water without dunking my head. Best bath I ever had was one where I used no bubble bath and actually held my breath and submerged for a minute. That was kind of cool. But the traditional bubble bath, not so much.

2: If you've ever seen my fingers and toes, you can tell I don't get manicures or pedicures. I like the end result, when my fingernails are shaped and buffed and shiny with a very pale pink or clear polish, and my feet are smooth with bright red toenails. But I do not find the actual manicure/pedicure relaxing.

3: I do like the occasional girlie movie tear-jerker. But if I'm feeling stressed or down, that is *not* what I need to watch. In those times, give me a good action-comedy or something entirely silly. I need to laugh, not cry!

4: The ideal of stripping down to a towel and laying on a table so a complete stranger can rub their hands on me does not relax me either. So yeah, not so much on massages.

And to close, a positive one...

The thing that I've found that has the most success of leaving me feeling relaxed and refreshed... is my yoga class. In addition to the benefits of physical exertion, yoga class is All About Me. My time. In my head. On my mat. Screw the rest of them. My favorite part is right at the end where we lay flat on the floor and just relax everything with our eyes closed for a while. The world disappears, and it is lovely.

Anonymous said...

OH, yes, I am SO with you!

Though I do love a massage, but it's kind of on the spendy side for anything but the BIG goals.

It's the little goal rewards I always had trouble with, when I was dieting.

Buy something? WHAT? What would I buy for myself as a reward that I wouldn't just pick up on a whim anyway? (Besides, you know, junk food, which is counterproductive.)

And OMG TAKE A WALK? Look, lady, if I was the kind of person who liked taking walks, then I wouldn't be this fat in the first place, would I?

This is sort of like my therapist telling me to use my drive home from work as "me-time." ...Because maneuvering around lost tourists taking the 25-cent tour and making u-turns across four lanes of highway is just all about me, right. (I, uh, may need to switch therapists.)

What kind of drugs are these people on? More to the point, what kind of drugs do they think I'm on?


Brightcetera said...

I was so relieved to find myself in my 40's being at peace with the fact that I wasn't your typical girly-girl. It's too much WORK.
Taking a bath is just about the grossest thing I can think of but a walk in nature is something I really find relaxing. And books.
Good post.

Cammy@TippyToeDiet said...

This book irritates ME and I'd never even heard of it.

I cried with joy and pride the day I made it back into an 18. It's a beautiful size. Also, I've "small induldged" 90 lbs off this now saggy, dimpled body, and I'm convinced I'd never have made it this far if I hadn't. Who ARE these women?

Crabby McSlacker said...


And it's funny, I've read these same lists over and over and just assumed it was me who didn't like bubble baths!

Anonymous said...

LMAO...Shroedinger's dick! Too funny!

I do love baths. But I take them every night so they wouldn't be much of a reward...

I'm going to have to go read that book just so I can post a negative review on Amazon. I have a basic antipathy toward one-size-fits-all plans anyway. Because one size doesn't fit all, ever.