Thursday, May 5, 2011


I've officially started to settle in and am quickly getting back to old routines. Yesterday I spent $200 on my hair and $7.50 on two cupcakes. Sounds about right. I also drove for the first time since August- I thought it would be a bit more of a momentous event, but I barely even remembered I was driving. I did remember to stop in the correct places and got pretty riled up when someone nearly backed into me. Sounds about right.

Anyhow, before I left the house yesterday, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and made a mental note of what a moose I was/am. Which got me thinking about weight and body image and how they are thought of culturally both here and elsewhere...

I distinctly remember being 10 years old and thinking I needed to go on a diet. I wasn't over-weight, but was never really stick thin either. In fact, my weight was irrelevant, which is what I realized yesterday. I am pretty sure I have thought of myself as fat since that day when I was 10.

As an adult, I've weighed 115 lbs and I've weighed 162 lbs (OMG) and everywhere in between, a few times. Really, I just want to be a stable "normal" or "healthy" weight all the time, but that is hard when you go off to places like Madagascar and can't help but lose weight, or if when you are at home you have a habit of eating cake straight from the refrigerator at 2am when you are 3/4s asleep.

Right now I am a "normal" 126 lbs, which is about right for me, so why do I tell myself that I am fat? I don't know but I think that I am not alone on this. I *think* that this is all too common in women, and men, in my/our society. In Madagascar though, it’s completely different. Carrying extra weight is a sign of prosperity and people think you are healthy and doing well if you are a bit chubby. 'Fat' there is not the four-letter-word that it is here.

Before I left for Madagascar, I gained 15 lbs on purpose. You never want to go to the field too thin. I am already hungry all the time and if I didn't have a few pounds to burn, I'd be completely miserable inside a month. Slowly but surely the pounds disappear and then one day one of the park staff asked if I was well. I said, not really, and he commented on how big I had been when I arrived. His implication was that I was big and healthy (a good thing) before, but that I was getting kind of scrawny and sickly (not a good thing). Or, also shortly before I left I was having a conversation with my camp cook and guard about when I would next be back. The commented that they'd look forward to seeing me, and with a touch of envy noted how fat I would be having come from America. I was like "no no I won't be fat!" But they insisted that I would be and what a shame it would be to lose all my fat chasing lemurs.

What a completely different take. I can understand why- in an area where people really do starve to death (not like how I 'starve to death' when my order takes too long') a bit of a fat buffer is highly advisable. But here, what on earth makes a 10 year old who isn't overweight think she is? For this, I don't have an answer.

What I do have is my favorite cupcake of all time! Sprinkles puts out the 'Choco loco' annually, for Cinco de Mayo. There is one in my fridge. Drool... Check it out:

1 comment:

  1. hmmmmmmmmmm.............. That weight issue can follow a person their entire life. A waste of life. I agree you do need to feel 'yourself', whatever that weight is for you Marni. Don't spend a lot of time worrying or upset. You have a book to write as far as I can tell. I want to read more of your experiences and science. Love you dearly, Chuck