21st Century Breakdown

I can't help noticing that that Alli drug is everywhere at the moment. I was outside boots the other week when I saw a huge promo for it in the shop window. My first reaction was shock -I thought boots was meant to be about promoting health not rapid weight loss. It seems everywhere I go I see adverts for it. If anyone hasn't heard of Alli, it's the new diet pill that has been written about a lot in the media recently. I first heard about it when I read a magazine article (or should I say horror story) about its side effects. Basically it stops your body from digesting fat, instead it passes theough your body 'in your stools.' So if you take alli and eat fat you'd better stock up on pampers. I don't know anyone that's tried it, but in the article one thing that amazed me was that the side effects are so rapid that girls are actually afraid to have sex with their boyfriends in case they have 'an accident.' Surely this is a hell of a price to pay to be skinny? One comment I heard on TV quite recntly was '0 isn't a size, it's an eating disorder.'

I am quite lucky in that I am naturally slim. The most I've ever weighed in my adult life is 9 stone and that was 7 years ago. I do think part of the weight thing is genetic. When I was a child I was always underweight, as I was born 6 weeks early, part of my bowel never developed properly and, consequently, I've had bowel problems my whole life. I have no hairs on my villi(the part of the small intestine that absorbs nutrients) so I get run down very easily. I also have Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Hiatus Hernia. I was so skinny as a kid people would think it was okay to grab my arms and say 'oh my god, are you anorexic?' Apparently it's not okay to tell someone they're fat but to tell someone they're too thin is acceptable. I am not going to have a big rant about the size 0 thing because I understand some girls are naturally incredibly skinny. Curently my clothes range from size 6 (some tops), size 8 (most things) and size 10 (new jeans but they're a bit loose.) I weigh between 8 1/2 and 9 stone. I am pretty happy with this.

Two years ago I was very ill for about 4 months, this was when, after 25 years of medical tests and inconclusive results the doctors fiinally figured out that what was wrong with me was IBS. I was horrified after 4 months of being on a cocktail of tablets to mask the pain that "you just have to accept it and deal with the pain." Although I found that hard to hear, since then I have made major changes to my lfe, there were people who were draining me mentally, financially, and physically and I became pretty hard about cutting people out of my life that I didn't want to be there.

I seem to have it all under control now, with a balanced diet, plenty of exercise, and just riding the rough waves with the good. While I was ill I lost loads of weight and went down to 7 stone. I am 5'2 and, although that is probably just in the normal BMI, I looked sick, one of my friends called me 'sparrow arms.' I was also cold all the time because I didn't have enough fat to insulate my vital organs. I still feel the cold a lot now,I always have. Bad circulation obviously.

One thing that always strikes me about these trashy magazines -they are one of my guilty pleasures!- is how they scrutinise women's size more than men. If Colleen Mcloughlin has an inch more fat on her hips, it's circled with the 'ring of shame', but Jack Nicholson can happily stroll along the beach with a beergut that would make Homer Simpson proud and no-one bats an eyelid. I've actually read articles in magazines about eating disorders, only to turn the page and see bitchy comments about celeb's red carpet choices on the next page making them look 'curvy'-by curvy they mean they actually have boobs and a bum! You never hear about men having to slim down to get into their wedding suits do you?!

I'm writing a poem at the moment, the title poem for my collection, 'Starstruck by Poets'. I would be ecstatic if I could bring it out by the end of the year. At the moment I am writing like a poetess possessed and trying to get enough quality poems together for a collection. I don't really know how many to include,but I guess if I include as many as possible any unnecessary ones can be edited out or saved for a future collection. The poem is about the 21st century obsession with celebrity culture. I put my hands up and admit that I love reading about celebrities. I have a strange obsession with Jennifer Anniston, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, and Britney. I buy my Closer magazine every Wednesday (it's about 50p less than Heat!) and read it from cover to cover.

But I can see how ridiculous our obsession with celebrity has become. Just look at Big Brother. Ten years ago Big Brother referred to George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty Four. Now, half of the fame hungry wannabes that get into the house have never heard of Orwell and glory in posing in their bikinis in the hope that some lad's mag will snap them up for a Big Brother girl on girl special, so they can get their fifteen minutes of fame. It's well known that the housemates tend to put on weight on the house, due to the lack of activity. Funnily enough it's the girls that get slated for this and not the boys.

I hope that this trend for jutting hip bones and protruding ribs dies out soon, I really do. But somehow I can't see that happening anytime soon. Shame.


  1. See it's interesting when you say that it's not ok to call someone fat, but its ok to tell someone that they are too thin. In my experience people think it is absolutely fine to tell you that you are fat - look at what has happened with Ryanair and the proposed "fat tax". People can be incredibly cruel, it isn't just magazines that act that way.

    I've been fat my whole life. I admit that I am obsessed with losing weight, but this is partly fueled by the constant negative images about weight. You can't turn on the news without being told you're going to die of obesity. I can understand why people turn to Alli; I've thought about it myself, but strangely it isn't the side effects but the price that puts me off. Healthwise, you shouldn't aim to lose 1 to 2lbs a week, so £50 a month for 2-4lbs weight loss just doesn't seem worthwhile to me, and to be honest I eat a very low fat diet anyway so it's doubtful that it'd make much difference.

    The prob with weight loss is that it takes a lot of time and effort, but the rewards often seem ridiculously small. For example: I've just lost a stone of weight in a month. The rub? No one has noticed. It takes about 2-3stone (if you have quite a bit to lose - the heavier you are the greater loss it takes) before people notice you've dropped a dress size. This can be heartbreaking, and it is the main reason extreme diets are s) popular, and b) don't work. You simply can't keep them up long enough to make a significant difference, but when you're overweight, you get desperate to lose the weight instantly. When that doesn't happen despite a strict routine of deprivation and unrealistic exercising, you give up, because you still feel fat (or someone called you fat) despite losing half a stone.

    I think that unless you've been seriously overweight it is difficult to understand; at the end of the day Binge Eating is a recognised eating disorder, just like Bulimia and Anorexia. Most people are miserable when overweight (I know not everyone is, but in my experience most hate their bodies and are desperate to lost that extra weight) and being told they are fat just makes it worse and makes them more likely to turn to food for comfort. The diet market trades on the misery and insecurities of those unhappy with their weight; people will put up with the side effects if they think there is a chance they can stop being fat and be "normal". Sadly the only way to do this is a major shift in life and attitude, a total re-education about food, nutrition and exercise. This is a hell of a lot harder than swallowing a little pill, so is it any wonder that our cynical society is going to use it to make more money?

  2. Great to see things from a different perspective. I can't believe people actually say to others that they are fat, that's so rude. I haven't heard about the fat tax-what is it? Well done on losing a stone, that's amazing. Maybe people didn't notice because you looked great anyway? I think the alternative remedies market also deals on people's desperation and fear to rip people off that want a cure/to lose weight/give up smoking etc. I read about a young mother the other day who gave her babies McDonalds when they were 6 months old. Education is badly needed in this country, not just about healthy eating but about the fact that it's just as ok to be XXL as it is to be size 0.


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