Friday, September 17, 2010

Vanity, Thy Name Is... Me

Anne in 1993
O.K., I've made a decision. I want to have Rebekah Girvan photograph my family. Including me. Her portraits are so stunning that every time I see them I think, "I wish I had photos like that of my own family." And I want to be in them. I still love the black and white portraits we had taken of my own family in 1993, and am so glad my parents were willing to shell out the money for an excellent photographer. I also still love them because they caught me at my thinnest point in adulthood. Sure, I was in the midst of bulimic behavior and had crash-dieted and overexercised to drop 40 pounds in just a few months. But I was pretty!

These days I shy away from photos, because I hate how I look in them. Namely, I'm fat. I don't like photographic evidence of this. However, I really want these pictures done. And I want to look beautiful in them.

See, the truth is, I'm vain. Most people might not guess that from the way I dress, or the fact that I don't usually wear any make-up, or that 90% of the time I'm running around with my hair pulled up in an unflattering ponytail. But I am. I'm vain in the way I would surmise many women are. Or at least women with eating disorders. I'm vain in that I'm constantly checking myself out in the mirror. I'm vain in that I love good photographs of me - to the point where I have them hanging up in my home. Who hangs up photos of *themselves* to see? I do. Because I like to think I'm pretty, and have evidence that, at least for that shot, I was. I'm vain, but don't often like the image I see, because it doesn't match the image in my head. I'm vain and hugely self-critical, all at the same time.

So I've made another decision. It's time to use vanity to prod me into doing what all my talk about healthy eating, modeling for my children (behavior, not my figure!), lowering my cholesterol or blood pressure, or whatever, has not been able to get me to do: really lose weight. It's time to admit while that all those things I mentioned are important, what supersedes them all for me is, simply stated, vanity. Printed vanity. See, in my day-to-day life, even as I check myself out in the rearview mirror or peer at my eyebrows in the bathroom, well, it's not permanent. I can look, and look away. And of course most of my day I'm NOT looking at my physical self. I'm doing my best to IGNORE my physical self. But when I see a photo, I'm transfixed, because there, on paper, for better or worse, is an image of what I really look like. And I've spent too long trying to convince myself I don't really look like that. I do!

Therefore, my goal is to lose weight before this photo shoot. I want the pictures to be taken sometime in March, around my 39th birthday. That gives me about 6 months. My goal is to drop somewhere between 17 and 37 pounds. Obviously I'd like it to be the higher number, but I need at least a bit of realism to pop in here to remind me that I will most certainly freak out over this effort at least a few times; I do have distorted eating and body image, after all, and the idea of losing weight is actually scary for reasons I both know and don't know. And my body may rebel even if I "do the work," since I supposedly have PCOS. So we'll see.

I know I've said time and again I'm going to lose weight. I've even said it here. I know realistically I may fail. So why publicly proclaim it (again)? Because, baby, I've gotta do something. All my dither-dallying, all my convincing myself not to "diet" because it won't work, all my certainty that my disordered binge-eating means I'll always be fat, hasn't moved the scale down. In fact, it's done the opposite. Therefore it's time for a good, old-fashioned, short-term dietary goal. I work best with a goal. I just haven't been able to come up with one that's as effective as the vanity card. So I'm playing it.

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