Wednesday, February 3, 2010

alone with her lungs
ink and watercolor on paper,
by ian dingman

thank you claire for forwarding this picture.

i have been absent from this blog for a little while. that is not a good sign, is it? no, it is not! i have been hiding from this waiting record because i did not feel like sharing or contemplating my late-order collapse. at a recent ping-pong afternoon i lost all desire to curb my intake and probably smoked around 10 that day. it was pure old habits. but, we regroup and we start again. i do want to give up, i really do. but the road is long and winding. a couple of positive things (my mum said i sounded a bit discouraged and defensive in my last past - on re-reading, that is very true:)

i have re-set my goals. giving up altogether was hard. and i found myself getting down on myself for not accomplishing what i set out to do. my current goal is to not take my cigarettes to work, and to not smoke at work at all. it is achievable, and i am doing it. no smoking at all at work. which has cut out A LOT of cigarettes for me. work was a classic place where i would get a spike of irritation or stress over some matter and immediately reach for the cigarettes. to not do this is really positive. it makes me believe that i can say no to myself, distract myself, beat the crave. it is baby steps, but they feel like they leave a giant's footprint in this particular battle. 

many people complimented me on my skin/looking generally healthy last time (when i had quit and was keeping to it, before i started the slow but sure blow out.) i will keep that in mind. it is a great motivation! it is amazing to think quitting can have such an immediate effect.

3. i also try and reward myself in moderate terms (because it is only moderate success right now). so i forgive myself the odd rant. see below.

(extended) footnote to point 2, above.
this one has been a bug bear of mine for a long time now. since i was very young. stay tuned for more recent, updated rants concerning the urban drivers of four-wheel drives, 'baby on board' stickers on cars, and more. 

i am a skinny person. i genuinely appreciate comments from friends to say if a new dress or something looks nice. but i am equally accustomed to people feeling they have the right to comment negatively on the way i look, just because i am skinny. that's why it was so nice to hear those positive comments after giving up the smokes a few days.

it is like people (and i am not talking close friends and family here, who are always so thoughtful and kind. more like random people i barely know, or strangers, even) assume that being skinny (and thus part of the accepted model for life?) gives the skinny one this buffer that negative comments cannot penetrate. i call this practice of thoughtless negative comments 'skinny-bashing'.

because of course i am blessed, aren't i? being skinny, i would never know what it feels like to worry about my weight; to worry that i don't fit the bill; to feel anxious when i don't see the way i look validated and reflected back at me from magazine and media pages; to worry that people might be staring at me and making frowning faces at my lack of healthiness. to this i say rubbish! everyone has those insecurities. i am underweight, and i experience that list of emotions and worry. yes, even at my age.

the body image debate should not hinge on skinny-bashing. skinny-bashing makes any argument for inclusivity invalid. it also engenders an 'us against them' attitude and perpetuates the insidious practice of critical judgement that is central to the problem of body image. so many times i have read articles that use phrases referring to the skinny bodyshape as 'unwomanly', 'skeletal', and worse. would anyone ever in their right mind consider it OK to refer, in the mainstream press, to an overweight person as 'gluttonous,' or 'undesirable'? pejorative terms hurt, no matter which way they are thrown and in what context. it is just staggeringly hypocritical: on one hand we need to 'show and celebrate the variety of shapes'. on the other hand all skinny shapes are dismissed as 'unwomanly'. jesus. who decides what 'womanly' is? i say frame the debate in inclusive terms. do not make judgement calls, and put the focus back on taking care of yourself. with every throwaway comment about a 'skeletal' body shape, i can guarantee there will be one little naturally skinny girl who feels that bit less fine about herself.



  1. Do you know the Raymond Carver poem 'What the doctor said'?

  2. no, i didn't know that poem. reading it for the first time,i find it is extremely powerful and a stunning piece of writing. thank you for pointing it out to me.