I’m not normally one to whinge about being fat and obsess about it, at least not publicly. But I’ve been going to the gym a fair bit the last few months. Also, going on adventures out of town where walking consumes a lot of my time. But I haven’t seen much physical result from this. Normally, eating same amount of food paired with increase in physical activity should equal weight loss. It’s basic math. But it hasn’t really.
That’s frustrating. And its the same frustration that has led me to throw away going to the gym a number of other times.
It’s also frustrating, because I’m in one of my phases where I actually care. These phases come along sporadically, and usually pass fleetingly. But I feel the burden of my weight more heavily here in Indonesia.
Everything around me seems smaller. I’m not just talking about other people, though that is certainly mostly true – women my age here tend to be petite. But other things just seem smaller. When I have caught cheap public buses or minivans when traveling, my knees press up against the seat in front of me uncomfortably, and I definitely take up two seats sometimes. On the budget flights in between cities here, the rows of seats are packed in, and once again I am compressed, only just fitting into my allocated plastic pig pen.
When I’m traveling, I feel the burden of my body weight as well as the weight of my backpack as I go up hills and walk around partially-sealed streets. And when I sit down at warungs, there’s always a secret fear that those shoddy little plastic stools will break under my big bule backside.
Add to all of this the different social expectations about privacy where people feel they can yell out from the side of the street “how many kilos?”, come up to me in the gym and inquire about my weight and compare it to their own or simply tell me that I am fat (or ‘healthy’, meaning fat) right to my face (or talk about it to their friend on the elevator, presuming I don’t speak any Indonesian), and it all adds up. And there are the glorious sideways glances or just full on stares in the gym changing room.
Also, add to this quite a few aggressive come-ons from men (and this is by no means racist, but mostly from African men… it’s a cultural thing) who seem to think that because I am fat I will take whatever I can get. Or, from local men who think I am white, so I must be a Western hussy who puts out at the drop of a hat. Sorry, but I am fussy, and I am not some wilting flower who will be bossed into a date.
I mean, the sugar and carb laden diet here probably doesn’t help either with butt size, but I try and be reasonable. I eat way less chocolate than I used to in Sydney…
Even with the above list, I’m still not sure why I “care” so much about my size at the moment… I did live in image-obsessed Sydney for five years… but I guess there I more hung out with indie-type people, where having a quirk or two was part of the scene in some ways (though, I think wearing 1950s glasses or skinny jeans was a more socially acceptable quirk than having a fat arse, but whatever).
I mean, you hear all that positive thinking crap about being “happy with yourself and confident and that makes you sexy and amazing and WOO yeah girl power”… yeah, there’s a valid point there. But then on the other hand, some people call that denial. I am happy and confident, but I know that I am fat. And sometimes, I really wish I wasn’t.
But at the same time, I don’t want to live off lettuce leaves and spend my whole life in the gym. But realistically, that’s probably what I would have to do to be “thin”. So, I don’t really want to be “thin” and I understand that will probably never happen. I think I’d just like to be thinner than I am now.
I was going to try and make a point here, but it has just dissolved into a big whinge!
What I was trying to get at I guess is that it’s not even the mass media obsession with thin that gets to me. I can just dismiss that as consumer-culture-based crap. It’s the way that other people take those messages on board, and then use them against bigger people. And the fact that in Indonesia, being a foreigner, I especially stick out.
And when someone like me who is a gung-ho femmo liberated educated young professional can’t even get by without having regularly scheduled body image freak outs, what hope do other less empowered women have? How screwed is it all? It’s so stupid!
Anyway, I’m obvs going to keep going to the gym, but yeah. It’s not working and I’m not willing to starve myself, so I guess things are going to stay pretty much the same.
Disclaimer- I’ve had another Jakarta fever and sickness, so this is possibly the half delerious rantings of someone with yet another bout of jungle fever. Apologies.