A few hours ago, I found myself sitting on my couch at my home, eyes glued to the TLC show, “My 600-lb Life.” Now, I don’t watch television too often, so most of the show names that pop up on the guide are unfamiliar. I’m pretty aware that most of the shows that are on at 2:30 pm on a weekday are reruns of low budgeters used to fill time while people are at work or school. But I had some food that I had just prepared and the tasks of reading/writing/etc aren’t usually best paired with eating. Also, I was alone, and eating in silence has always felt awkward.
The title “My 600-lb Life” leaves little to the imagination of what the show is about, thus eliminating the guessing game of “is watching this show going to be worth the 30 minutes that I’m using it for to fill my lonely-eating void.” It seemed interesting enough.
For the duration of the show, a woman with a notably negative personality underwent bariatric surgery and then struggled to adjust to the diet and lifestyle changes that proceeded. Her addiction to food was highlighted by her constant stream of complaints about her needing more food, how the doctors/her mom were starving her. She even went as far to say that her post-surgery hospital stay was comparable to a “fat-person concentration camp.” As the show proceeded and the woman continued to obsess over food, I grew impatient. Why can’t you stop asking for more food! The doctor’s aren’t starving you, it’s a diet! Just don’t eat as much! Do you want to die or something? I didn’t understand how food could rule somebody’s life like this.
Except last night, I ate three pieces of pizza.
Over the course of the semester, I seemed to have put on a few pounds since, you know… beer and french fries. Not a big deal, right? But as someone who’s always struggled with body image, this extra weight nagged at me. I hated the thought of trying on my summer clothes and dreaded seeing friends and family that I haven’t seen since January. Having people think “Oh, she gained weight,” was unbearable. I was afraid of my body. I was afraid of what people thought of my body. But most important, I was afraid of what food could do to my body.
The act of eating three pieces of pizza last night unveiled a cascade of obsessive thoughts, all revolving around food. I couldn’t sleep last night with the incessant buzz of thoughts reminding me not to eat that much tomorrow, avoid the carbs, starve if you have to!
And yet there I sat, watching this lady on TLC struggle with her addiction, with her life, and felt fully capable of questioning her obsession with food. But were we really that different? We both obsessed over the same entity, albeit in various ways. But nonetheless, we both allowed food to rule our lives. It’s strange, no? How this one facet of life, which, in its simplest form, is a source of energy, is able to control the entire human race? How is it that something as simple as pizza can totally reroute the progression of my week?
I don’t have the answer, and don’t think I ever will. But perhaps my experience with My 600-lb Life just opened up my eyes to how food is attempting to overthrow the planet…or something. I just hope I can figure out my own struggle before then.