Friday, September 18, 2009


I'm thinking of getting this book.

I was a hungry teen: I lost weight at 15 and went crazy. My days were about counting calories, eating half of the half I already was eating, and squeezing in exercise whenever I could. At 18 I suddenly got terribly sick. One evening I took an afternoon nap, feeling oddly weak after a meal and woke up in pain. I thought I was going to die from intestinal cramps -- one of the lousiest, least-romantic, bordering on funny, deaths that you can imagine. My mother called the ambulance, I remember passing out because of the pain in my stomach, and the doctor trying to make me talk, so I stay conscious. I got a shot, which relaxed the cramps and after a few hours of sleep I went to the doctor for what was the first of a long series of visits and exams.

The diagnosis: an ulcer. Sounds simple, I know a lot of people deal with ulcers in one, two years, but I haven't been able to. Although, perversely, the illness helped me get over the worst obsession by preventing me from dieting, I still haven't learned to handle work-related stress or body image fears. (Like now, when I've gained a few pounds and, rationally, I know it doesn't really make much of a difference but I do feel I should lose them. But I'm not actively pursuing this -- just watching my thoughts.)

I wish I could have come to wiser conclusions about eating with a different inspiration than an imminent risk of a hole in my stomach.

But here's what the hole taught me:

raw food and fruit only diets -- crap: your inundating your stomach with acids and providing your body with only a small group of the nutrients you need;

mono-diets -- see above;

"cleanses" -- crap in a lot of cases: I understand they can help you once in a blue moon, but only if you don't belong to the huge group of people who absolutely need to eat regularly for hundreds of reasons (the basic: eating regularly is the healthiest option); if you want to "cleanse yourself of toxins" quit coffee, tea, and alcohol, sauces, fast food, snacks, chocolate, maybe dairy for a few weeks;

exercise -- good BUT if you find you are scheduling your life around visits to the gym, you are bat-shit crazy and if you think you're cool because you jog around your block but then you never WALK anywhere, you're not too smart;

demonizing bread and potatoes -- starch isn't toxic, you need to have a healthy balance of the amounts you consume AND advocate good bread (which does happen to be white sometimes), without half the periodic table in it, keeping it the same for months;

"halp! carbs!" -- change it to "help! synthetic food!"

The food part is easier than making friends with the mirror. I've been practicing for years. I feel like it's getting better, but there are many times when it feels like day one.

It doesn't help to have this as your ethnic beauty ideal and success story (btw, her body's chosen weight was this).

Don't get me wrong, I'm not biased against very slender people -- IF it's their natural weight. If it's a result of a fierce battle with the body, I don't support it. That's why I'm very grateful to Crystal Renn for writing her book and for interviews such as this one.

[ promo]
[Kate Harding on Crystal Renn at]
["No Longer Hungry..." at]
["Crystal Renn... on Having Her Cake and Eating It" - The Guardian]


google_account said...

I've always been a fan of plus-size models! There's a great site with many images of Crystal and other plus-size models here:

They're all gorgeous.

The site's forum also has thought-provoking discussions about body image and the media.

Misiula said...

Thanks, mysterious google-account :-)

Kim said...

I've been thinking a lot about my weight too, perhaps something going on most of my life too. Most of the time I am fine with it but others (family) are not :p
Like at this moment I find myself surrounded by 4 very skinny people (2 sisters and 2 cousins). 3 of them don't like to eat most food, 2 could have some kind of weight problem since they look way too skinny I think, and 1 is slim but she does do strange diets every so often to stay slim.
I love food and enjoy cooking and eating. I have never tried food diets or intense exercising, though others have tried to convince me I should.

Doesn't help much that in the past 2 years my weight has been fluctuating like crazy due to stress and different living arrangements. I have gained weight since returning home and live a too sedentary life :( But I wish those around me (and the rest of the world) would stop worrying about weight and what bodies weigh and look one is ever happy cause they imagine some bizarre ideal that is not healthy..why is everything about measuring and comparing?