Every day, in almost every civilized country, there it is: A feature story—with Before and After pics—showing you how to make your body look better. The question is: Better than what? What is the holy grail of a better body anyway? What if you haven’t won that genetic lottery? More to the point, what if you are short or pear-shaped or busty or flat-chested or stocky or skinny?
We can’t seem to leave well enough alone because we don’t know what well enough is. Instead, we’re orbiting in a spin-cycle of self-directed Mean-Girl-ness. Must we spend our lives in abject misery about our God-given design flaws?
I say NO. I am fat, fit and fabulous! And I have spent far too much time trying to be something that I was never intended to be—thin.
I started my TV career as a plus-sized woman by doing an exercise show on City TV. I squeezed my body into a leotard, yanking that thing up as if it was a sausage casing, praying that when I stood up, nothing would fly out, especially my boobs (which by then looked eerily like floatation devices). Blessed with an unnaturally flexible body, I did backbends and the splits. I decorated the Christmas tree with chicken legs and celery twists and played host to an endless parade of fitness experts who all thought they had the solution to being overweight. ‘Lose it!’
I tried. Really I did. I tried just about every diet on Earth and some that must have come from Mars. If it was on a magazine cover, I took a chance on it.
I knocked back a drink infused with clay, which was guaranteed to suck the fat from everywhere including your spleen (assuming one could have a fat spleen, which I’m sure I must have). The drink smelled like wet basement walls, tasted like the very glamorously named plaster of Paris. And that was the good news.
The bad news came as my personal plumbing ceased to function and I was left with what I imagined to be my very own collection of clay garden gnomes that now resided in my gut. Never had I been more bloated or hoodwinked. Zero poundage was lost as my doctor encouraged me to eat lots of bread dipped in olive to loosen the backlog. Eew!
My next favourite diet-disaster from my Chronicles of Stupidity was presented as a guaranteed lard-dropper: daily shots from the urine of pregnant cows. What? Oh yes. In my desperation to become thinner, I said Bring it. Every day for six months, I had a needle jabbed into my hip filled with pregnant cow urine. (How was that collected exactly?) The diet accompanying the shots was an alarming 500 calories, mostly made up of grass cuttings.
OF COURSE I LOST WEIGHT! I was eating the equivalent of two sticks of gum! But the diet devils couldn’t have made any money from that scheme, so they fronted the whole flim-flam enterprise with the magical properties found in pregnant cow urine. It’s worth pointing out that these shysters stay out of jail because of desperate people like me – who want thinness so badly they pray there’s a kernel of truth to their sales pitches.
As if the diets weren’t enough, there are always the bullshit exercise contraptions that have been springing up like mushrooms since the turn of the last century. Shaky leather belts strapped to one’s derriere, pulleys, ropes, electrified fat-melting pulse machines. Hey, I wore gravity boots to bed. I knelt at the altar of my Thigh Master. I skipped, I hula-hooped and I popped Bennies.
Now, I have a gold star for losing weight—and I have a platinum one for gaining it back. I’m not a scientist, but I have a theory: Fat doesn’t ever really disappear.
Instead, it hovers above the hole in the ozone layer, just waiting for one bad hair day, one teeny emotional meltdown, one glimpse caught in an unflattering light and…whoomp! Fat always finds its way back home.
There are Ferraris and there are Fords. There are race cars and cruisers. Would I want a smokin’ hot body? You bet, but I wouldn’t know what to do with one. I already have a permit for this one and it has taken me years to learn to hug the curves and drive it full out! Just watch me.
Monica Parker, an accomplished comedy actress and TV writer and producer, is the author of the hilarious bestseller Getting Waisted: A Survival Guide to Being Fat in a Society that Loves Thin. Her book takes on the diet world and its flawed psychological skew with brutal candour and some advice for the weight loss industry. Photo: Jason Jones