I work in a cafe and I’d always assumed I got on pretty well with the other employees. I don’t have many friends in the area and I like going to work and chatting with the others. I’ve avoided looking for another job even though this one doesn’t pay well and my hours aren’t great. I felt comfortable.
It’s our boss’s birthday this week and there’s been a message thread on Facebook about buying her a present. I only got added to it after quite a lot of messages had gone back and forth.
The others were complaining about having to spend money and effort. Halfway through the deputy boss has written ‘God we’ll have to converse with Kate’.
I’m not confident in social situations and it’s taken a while to feel comfortable enough to join in with the chatter at work. Honestly just want to quit and hide in a box right now. I have no idea whether or not to address what she wrote.
It just feels humiliating.
Trigger warning for disordered eating and body image issues
So, I’m recovering from some (fortunately fairly minor) problems with food and eating. I think they were partially brought on by stress and have alleviated considerably with counselling.
Today and yesterday I did a bit of clothes shopping, alone and with friends. Trying things confirmed for me that in most shops I am now a clothes size smaller than I was a month ago. This takes me down three sizes since Christmas.
The nasty warped part of me is already feeling that this size isn’t small enough and could be improved if I went back to eating tiny and insufficient amounts of food. If I let that part gain control I don’t think it would ever be satisfied. I’m a size smaller than I ever planned or aimed to be. I’m a size smaller than my extremely weight-conscious mother deems attractive. When I was larger I used to cut the labels off of clothes so that she wouldn’t draw attention to their size; I’m now going to have to do the same for the opposite reason. I’m exhilarated and sad in equal measures.
All of this is obviously a bit messed up and it makes me wonder whether or not the way British clothes are sized encourages body negativity. The sizes don’t refer to any specific measurement and often seem pretty arbitrary. The fact that the numbers are relatively small but rise quickly in double-time makes them seem much more judgmental. To someone with poor body image it’s almost a value judgment. Would it be better to have actual measurements listed? Or something akin to European sizing? A person’s clothing size shouldn’t have any meaning. I still need to learn this internally, but I believe strongly that size has nothing to do with value or worth.
In the last week I have taken on all the responsibilities of a traditional stay-at-home mother. That covers every aspect of taking care of a family and a home.
This a temporary situation, in my every day life I’m about to become a university graduate and aim to earn my living independently. Nonetheless, it has given me some interesting insights into this lifestyle.
As a feminist, I find it almost embarassing how satisfying it is to look after other people. Being necessary to other people’s existence gives a certain degree of power. I know what’s in the fridge and where people need to be. The house becomes your sole domain. I can understand why some people get satisfaction from this. Particularly people who, like me, enjoy cooking and domesticity.
The trouble is that being needed isn’t the same as being appreciated. The role of a housewife or househusband is to aid other people. You make other people’s lives easier. As a consequence, the work that goes into managing and operating a house goes unnoticed. It is interesting that those who do similar work professionally often get denigrated. Commentators continually refer to Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s victim as a ’simple’ maid. As though this kind of work, and it is work, should come naturally to women. Because it is women who primarily perform these roles, it seems to be even easier to dismiss them.
There is nothing wrong with staying at home, it can even be a satisfying occupation. There is a lot wrong with how people who look after other people are portrayed and treated. It should be understood that such work is incredibly valuable.
Trigger Warning: Disordered Eating
Before I started restricting I responded to hunger. Not emotional hunger, but the kind of physical hunger that comes from deep in your stomach. I was never hungry for prolonged periods, I would eat enough at meal times and have a snack if it was insufficient.
I’m discovering that I can’t let myself get hungry at all until I’ve fixed my relationship with food. Hunger doesn’t feel bad or annoying anymore, it’s almost exhilarating, like an endorphin rush.
As soon as I start to get hungry I start to feel that it’s ok to pretty much stop eating again; that getting healthy is less important than the feeling of lightness, emptiness and weight-loss.
What is terrifying is that it is illogical and irrational. I know it’s not me thinking these thoughts. The real Kate knows that eating a healthy amount makes her feel happier and brighter; it’s the shadow Kate that is destructive.
I’m thinking more and more that restrictive diets seem are inherently damaging.
Until I figure it out, I have to eat as regularly as a child. Adult casualness is no longer an option.
But I got my scales back for a while today and I’ve not gained any weight.
Even more confident that getting healthy is the right decision.
I gave my scales and measuring tape to my housemate to look after today. Still counting calories but I’m getting there.