At 6:15 this morning, while still in bed, I started laughing. Nice way to start the day; albeit feeling a little nutty, since I was laughing aloud at my own silent thoughts. I don’t think that I can translate my train of thoughts in a way to make anyone else laugh, but I will try to explain some of the train.
Since taking up this NaBloPoMo self-challenge, I find myself, not surprisingly, thinking about what I’ve written (or what I am going to write.) The phrase I used a couple of days ago, that I was “barely chubby” at age eight, echoed in my mind. Then I remembered something that I learned when my daughter was growing up. Basically it is that children grow in more or less alternating cycles of width and height.
It’s a generalization, of course, but think about it, if you can picture a young child you know or have known. One day they are roly-poly little babies, then they seem to stretch out as they become toddlers. The waves of growth continue; as a preteen, there’s often some chunkiness going on, and then ‘phtt‘, growth spurt. Interesting that the expression ‘growth spurt’ is used almost exclusively for height spurts.
Okay, before I get lost in my ramble, I’ll go back to my 6:00 AM thought. It wasn’t that I was chubby, I was actually in a normal growth stage. So it wasn’t my weight that triggered the over-reaction of parents & doctor; it was my body type! Like I said, you may not be able to get the laugh here, but what cracked me up was thinking of the supermodel of the 1960’s: Twiggy.
That’s when I thought, ‘bad timing’, as in, what an unfortunate time to be a prepubescent girl. My parental units were frightened, ashamed & concerned about my size, and it was completely unnecessary. If only they could have waited a bit & let me grow normally.
There are other elements to the ‘bad timing’ idea, of course. I think I’ll skip the factors that were most specific to my family, although the self-loathing of my mother and the mysogynistic attitude of my father (both culturally-reinforced) were certainly powerful. Not to mention the overt sexism of Dr P, who told me , straight out, that “boys would not be interested in [me] because of [my] weight…”. Well, to a young person, a doctor was an unquestioned authority figure. He must know, right?
His biases apparently overrode any knowledge of the medical fact that bodies change frequently as children grow. But, perhaps most un-luckily for me, he was unaware of (or ignored?) the fact that putting someone on a dramatically low calorie diet (especially a child, for heavens sake!) wreaks havoc with their metabolism. The now-prevalent understanding that ‘starvation‘ diets alter the metabolic set-point of an individual, was perhaps not yet common knowledge. When the body registers caloric deprivation, it goes into crisis mode: “Emergency! Starvation risk! Stockpile calories for energy! Store Fat!”
I have previously noted another ‘bad timing‘ element for me; that I was born at the same time that the PPFIC was taking off, big time. [I’m really having fun with my acronym: Packaged, Processed Food Industrial Complex.] The exhilarating explosion of scientific research, post WWII, was harnessed by the PPFIC to create and utilize more versions of the big three: salt, sugar and fat.
Cheaper and more addictive foods = more heavy users = way more profit.
Okay, so I’ve come back again to Pushers and Addiction. I’ll close with this, from The American Society of Addiction Medicine. Lots of intriguing language here, to be discussed another day. For now, remember the Oreo cookie study...
“Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry.
Genetic factors account for about half of the likelihood that an individual will develop addiction. Environmental factors interact with the person’s biology and affect the extent to which genetic factors exert their influence. Resiliencies the individual acquires (through parenting or later life experiences) can affect the extent to which genetic predispositions lead to the behavioral and other manifestations of addiction. Culture also plays a role in how addiction becomes actualized in persons with biological vulnerabilities to the development of addiction.”