Thursday, June 02, 2005

The Cost of Being Thin: Do We Really Want to Know?

Renee Zellweger made a recent appearance on "The View" that cracked wide open a state secret held closely by thin women everywhere. Wearing an absolutely diaphanous little frock that I could probably squeeze one thigh into, she looked just as ropey and firm as Nicole Kidman (they are, I believe, the current poster girls of celebrity slender). I'm not exaggerating about this, when Renee sat down, her knees were wider than her very muscular calves. Oye!

Here's a woman who has worked in films with (and sometimes gotten to KISS) Tom Cruise, Jude Law, Ewen McGregor, Hugh Grant, Colin Firth (Oh my God, Colin Firth!) and Russell Crowe, married Kenny Chesney, and dated Jim Carrey. Yet the question she is most often asked is, "How did you take the weight off?" This of course, is a curiosity because of the 20 to 30 pounds she put on for the two "Bridget Jones" films, made several years apart. (The questions I would like to ask her are: Why was the filmed sequel to Bridget Jones so shitty when the second book was so good? And what happened to Sharon McGuire, the original director who kicked ass on the original "Bridget Jones" film?)

But I digress -- as I always do when I think about losing weight. Ms. Zellweger answered the question that every woman wants the answer to -- or do they? When Renee tries to explain her weight loss technique, she first offers the easy explanation: "It's just math and I do what my nutritionist tells me I need to do." But that's never enough and women still probe. So, she describes her daily menu and their eyes glaze over. That's not the response America is looking for. We want the answer that starts with, "Oh, I just buy these little magic pills and I take one every day and you can get them at. . ."

I remember once after I had lost a bunch of weight, I was telling a few friends about how I only ate nonfat mayonnaise and cheese, etc. and one (who fought her weight her entire life and still does) piped up and said, "Oh, I just couldn't stand that!" and I thought to myself, "Well, you gotta decide. Do you want to be thin or not?" And that's the decision we all must make. Do we REALLY REALLY want this? And if we do, how much are we willing to sacrifice for it?

Let's not kid ourselves, you can tell what people do in their spare time by looking at their bodies. And one glance at Nicole and Renee and you know they don’t make a hobby out of pigging out. Both of them have admitted in interviews that they will spend hours at a time on the treadmill to maintain their shapes.

The truth about getting skinny is not pretty. People Magazine ran a feature a few years back on what models eat. Here's what I remember. . .lunch was a bowl of soup and dinner was plain salad greens. I don't remember breakfast at all. I do recall that some of the models had extremely boring lives because they had no energy to leave their apartments! When Maria Shriver was told she needed to lose 25 pounds to be an on camera reporter, she went on a strict diet and losing weight became her "full time job." I suppose if you live on a Kennedy trust fund, you can do that. And John Malkovich, once a pudge, lost 70 pounds in high school eating nothing but Jell-o. It wasn't pretty, but it worked for him.

Renee may have a bit of a head start on the rest of us because she once explained why she didn't eat cake on her birthday or other parties. Her family never made the connection between celebrations and food, she claims. OK, her parents are both of Northern European descent and I can't name ONE such culture that doesn't celebrate with AT LEAST a little bit of food. I mean, the English break for tea each afternoon and who doesn't have a little something for a wedding, a graduation, a birthday, Christmas? If her family celebrated with toys and stories rather than food, God bless 'em. But I believe that God made butter cream frosting for humans to enjoy with a cup of coffee AND if you are lucky and know the server, you'll get the corner piece with extra frosting and roses. YUM!

My boyfriend has a book originally published in 1954, called "How to Lie With Statistics." I could write one called "How to Lie in Your Food Log." But Renee and Nicole can't lie. . .every ounce of their fudging (mmmm, fudge!) shows up on the big screen and can't be squeezed into a designer original from Paris. Me? My sweats can stretch for days and if I hide behind something large (a caftan, a Christmas tree, a couch), I can conceal piles of fat from the average digital camera (and Adobe Photo Shop).

So, here it is, the menu that keeps Renee looking like Renee:

BREAKFAST: coffee and a protein bar, maybe some fruit, but not always
LUNCH: salmon and salad or spinach
DINNER: egg white omelette
FRIDAYS: eat anything you want (burger, whatever..)
Bottom line…don’t' even THINK about carbs.

How does this sound to you? Could you live on this for weeks and months and years? Renee and Nicole do it for multi-million dollar paychecks. But what are we doing it for?

Our joy in life has to come from somewhere. So, if we aren't getting it from food, we'll seek it from another source (preferably a LEGAL and HEALTHY one). Can we transfer our love for M&Ms into a passion for books? Can fondness for ice cream be converted into craft-mania? Can ANYTHING make the treadmill more bearable? What could possibly substitute adequately for butter cream frosting?

When it comes to being thin, we should be careful about the questions we ask because the answers may ask too much of us.


At 4:00 PM, Anonymous Corie said...

Being the math geek that I am, I'll give you the rundown on losing weight...In order to lose 1 pound, you must burn 3500 more calories than you take in. Divide that by 7 days a week, and you must burn 500 more calories per day than you take in. That means a salad instead of fries, one brownie instead of two, a diet soda instead of a regular. It means walking upstairs instead of taking the elevator. Keep up the great blogging, Kelly! ~Corie

At 9:47 PM, Blogger clusterblog said...

Someone I know worked at Starbucks in LA and allegedly Renee ordered 2 scones everyday. I don't know that she ate one or both or any scones, I'm not here to accuse, but she was in the vicinity of high calorie food!

We shouldn't be discouraged when thin actresses go on The View and talk about egg whites and fish- some actresses have good metabolism, some use tape worms, some take drugs (legal or not) and some don't eat or are bulimic. I say we should all eat what we like for the most part, just watch the portions. I love frosting!

At 3:22 PM, Blogger Mike said...

Here's what I remember from seeing that Bridget Jones movie with the spouse... wasn't Bridget Jones supposed to be CHUBBY? I watched an entire movie about a woman who just looked less emaciated than the rest of the women in the film. Forget about the casting of a Texan to play a Brit, the real problem there was that they needed someone like... I don't know, Roseanne Barr or Rosie O'Donnell or that girl who does the M&Ms ads to play that role. Because she wasn't believable as pudgy. Insecure, yes, but not pudgy.


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