Towards an overflow of happy hormones


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Category: Women Date: 27 Feb 00

Saturday February 19

Today, I resolve to clean up my act; take charge of my life and be disciplined by abstaining from alcohol, cigarettes, hangovers, mindless partying, obsessive shopping for tiny clothes that would make me look like a half child/half woman.


Sunday, February 20

Couldn’t help buy a copy of Cosmo, which shows Cindy Crawford looking stunning AFTER she had a baby. Oh my God, oh my God. Console myself with the thought that no female above the age of 12 can achieve that languid starved child look in a tiny bikini unless she has an eating disorder.


Monday February 21

Saw a bunch of thin girlwomen with Crawford proportions in short shorts picking up costumes. Tomorrow I will rejoin the gym and lose 25 pounds in two weeks. Oh no, I’m falling for Body Beautiful propaganda - of emaciated girls on covers of glossy magazines, of celebrities who starve or drug themselves to look like preadolescent grown freaks, of a culture which measures our worth by our girth, enslaves women by making us want to flatten natural curves. (Similar to the Chinese tradition of binding and distorting women’s feet until they rotted by not allowing them to grow.) I resolve not to support the cosmetic industry which preys on our self esteem, sucks us into a vortex of self hate, or leads us to eating disorders to fulfill an unnatural female ideal.


Tuesday February 22

Feel weak with hunger because I went on a diet of Papaya juice after a gym instructor scooped up bits of thigh and stomach between his pincers and shook his head while giving me the results of my fat test, saying it was above the “required” levels. I was shocked “But I’m not fat.” He replied smugly, flexing his pectorals. “You can be maga (which you’re not) and have obese fat levels. “Its proportion of fat to muscle that we’re interested in.”


I should have told him that it was NORMAL for a woman with two children to have SOME fat content. Instead I went home and threw out my emergency supplies of chocolate, cookies, cake and sugar in the fridge. Then at 11 pm, unable to bear hunger pangs any longer binged on enormous quantities of bread, and jam and butter. Oh God forgot to throw out the butter!  Wish I knew how to be bulimic but the thought made me sick.


Wednesday February 23

Worked out for two hours solidly all the time hallucinating that if I did this everyday, I would grow two feet, my features would mutate into perfect model type proportions, I would turn 10 years younger by my next birthday.


This kept me going through the aerobics, and the boring bike, but the fantasy collapsed in the weights room where I hear echoes of my inner conflict in women’s voices around me. “Oh God” says a fit young woman: “Look how fat the back of my legs are”. Another, with pretty proportions gathers a bit of her stomach and scrunched it up in self disgust  “I can’t get this belly down at all.” Everywhere I looked I saw women who couldn’t see their own beauty because they had turned against their own flesh. It was infectious. Left gym depressed.


Thursday February 24 

Hope: I remember being shocked at how much weight the formerly svelte Merryl Streep put on for the Robert Redford Film, Bridges over Madison County, but instead of being apologetic, Streep, in a People magazine interview said she was relieved to be at a stage in her life when she was able to step into her own body - not someone else’s version of what it should look like.


It was not a function of getting older but of a rare wisdom, of a woman overflowing with an abundance of life: of challenges, work, family, travel, friends. She approached life as she did food - partaking of it with the heady and confident appetite of women who have come into their own - biting into it with vigour, savouring its sensuality, textures, fragrances, tastes, warmth, ice. She has come to love in the fullness of her curves, which to her are a sign of unabashed triumphant womanhood.


Friday February 25

Streep’s perspective made me see how lucky I am to be living in this country as a woman in this time.  The abundance of our fruit - paw paws, mangoes, oranges, five fingers, avocados, watermelons - symbolise, celebrate fecund, lush, rotund womanhood; of the fact that Caribbean men still appreciate women “with something to hold on to.” Of our many women who show us to be a woman is the opposite of trying to disappear - strong hands knead bread, big haunches and thighs bear children and pain, bellies dance with abandon, laughter and rhythm.


Saturday February 26

Went to a great fete where I broke all resolves and consumed excessive quantities food and alcohol that I’m now overflowing with happy hormones. Decided that piety is a great disease and change is not just our prerogative but necessity for growth. I’ll end this day with an ambivalent prayer: “Lord if I can’t be skinny let all my friends be fat.”

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All Articles Copyright Ira Mathur