What if you were your goal weight or size? Would being a size zero (or whatever) make you any happier than you are now? Would it change who you are? An interesting documentary out of the UK called Super Slim Me sent two female journalists on a quest to achieve the gold-standard of weight loss: a size zero. Cameras follow the girls as they try every (legal) tactic in the dieting manual.
I haven’t seen this yet – I don’t have cable – but my friend recorded it for me and I get to watch it when her out-of-town family finally leaves in a week. (I know!! Who would pick their family over a neurotic friend and a BBC special?!?) I have, however, read every article I could find on it – call it schadenfreude – and watched all the clips available on YouTube.
I am looking for the answer to the perrenial Hollywood question: are they (you know who I’m talking about!) truly naturally thin, like they claim? Do they really achieve their glamorous tiny figures with sensible diet and exercise? Or do they go to extreme measures for their physiques?
“Just Ignore It – Don’t Let Them Make you Feel Crappy”
A commenter on Leslie G’s fantastic blog, The Weighting Game said this in response to a general outcry against the level of airbrushing on the Marie Claire Christina Aguilera cover for this month. I wish she were right. But the thing is – and this is why the Size Zero question really matters – it’s not just about telling yourself it doesn’t matter. These people – they – set the societal standard for beauty. It is insidious how these things worm their way into our collective conscious. You may not actively tell yourself that you equate thin with beauty, honesty, wealth, fecundity, intelligence, confidence and will-power but scientists say we definitely do. So are they selling us a lie?
“Some told me the size zero craze was a myth, that people weren’t really starving themselves to be that size – but in my quest, I discovered they clearly were.”
Dawn Porter, one of the journalists that participated in the Super Slim Me experiment wrote a telling article about her experience. So, please read some of her thoughts on the subject and then ask yourself – What if you actually got what you wanted?
“But I couldn’t fit into any clothes – the biggest size the designers Prada and Gucci stocked was as U.S. size 6 (a UK 10) which I was still a long way from being able to get into. I was appalled. How can anyone think this is normal? Are the designers telling us if we’re bigger-than a size  10, we don’t deserve to wear their clothes? “
“But then a terrible thing started to happen. As the weight continued to melt away, I really liked how I looked. For the first time, my tummy disappeared, and even though I was permanently hungry, I was excited to see how much more I could lose. “
“My mindset started to change. Food was all I could think about. At night, I’d lie awake, starving hungry, fantasising about the first meal I’d have when I came off this diet.(Throughout the experiment, the hunger never went away – that’s another myth.) “
“But for all my joy at losing weight by week seven the depression kicked in. I’d never suffered depression in my life, yet here I was, so miserable I would cry for no reason. As well as the insomnia, I started to have violent mood swings, yelling at my friends over nothing. I had terrible headaches, and extreme constipation. It was awful. “
“It got to the point where I hated leaving the flat because I was terrified of what I might be given to eat, or whether I’d have the willpower to turn it down. “
“Even though I’d never looked so slim, I’d also never felt so insecure about my body.”
“although the doctor monitoring me every week said it was OK to finish the experiment, she warned that another month would have caused irreversible damage. “
“I’d never felt so unattractive in my life. When I asked a male friend how I looked, he said that I wasn’t as sexy as usual because I didn’t have the confidence I usually have. “
“But if men didn’t find me sexy, women kept telling me I looked amazing.”
“It made me realise how many people comment on thinness all the time. As a society, we’re obsessed by it. “
“What kept me sane throughout the diet, and stopped me from tipping over the edge and wanting to keep the new skinny self I’d worked so hard to achieve, was the realisation that my life was no better, or more successful, or colourful, when I was thin than before. In fact, the reverse was true. It was the single worst time of my life. The fact that I’d lost weight didn’t make a scrap of difference, other than to make me miserable and ill. “
“Men found me unappealing and women were jealous of me. I’d gained nothing, other than the knowledge that thin does not equal happy. “
“The Hollywood size zero is just a designer label for an eating disorder.”