There is no end to the complexities of women, our obsession with weight, and self-love. Being raised in an extremely visual culture, where men tell us how we “should” look and feel about ourselves, has led to far too many girls starving themselves to death over these exact same issues.
Whenever I hear Karen Carpenter singing her syrupy love songs like “Close to You” and “Goodbye to Love” I can only feel a deep sadness that she would or could not choose to keep herself alive past age 32. Carpenter suffered from anorexia nervosa, which was little-known or understood at that time. Her death from heart failure in 1983 related to complications of her illness, led to increased visibility and awareness about eating disorders.
Karen was born five years before me in 1950 into a world where how you looked was just beginning to mean everything to a girl. I don’t remember weight influencing my childhood much, but once I reached puberty I began to notice that weight could be a powerful influence. My older sister seemed perpetually tortured about her weight. I was skinny as a kid, but I did have my own personal experience with anorexia in my early twenties. I became severely depressed and lost over 40 pounds very quickly, but as soon as I fought my way out of depression, the weight came back on easily.
Through the decades I tried not to worry much about my weight, but in my early fifties I found myself seriously overweight. My days of eating whatever I wanted whenever I wanted were apparently over.
I lost over 50 pounds and kept it off for a few years, until I became absolutely stressed out over our move to Walsenburg and the process of building a new home in the middle of nowhere. I was so stressed I decided,
“I deserve to eat whatever I want!” That did not work out well…
So recently I’ve begun again. Back to tiny portions of starch and lots of protein and vegetables. I’m glad I eventually learned what proper nutrition looks and feels like. I’m also happy that I’ve never had to obsess about my weight. My only concern now is my health, aka keep breathing and moving!
There’s just two things I wish they would have taught us in high school. Why didn’t they teach us something practical like proper financial planning and what proper eating looks like? They could have saved most of us a lot of grief!