Eighty Percent of Women Think They Need to Lose Weight. How I Became One of Them.

'It is changing!' you may insist. 'Women don’t want to be outlines!' But skinny still calls.

‘Times are changing,’ you may insist. ‘Women don’t want to be outlines!’ But skinny still calls. Getty Images

I have gained weight.

I tried on a bunch of old dresses the other day and they fit, but they were tighter, it seemed. I don’t know.

As I tried on my new Agnes B blouse for my mother, I set her up for failure.

“I think I’ve gained five pounds, do you?”

“No,” my mother said, “you look great.”

“But everything is tight.”

“I mean, if anything then maybe two pounds?”

“So then I have gained weight?”

“You look better than ever,” my mother tried.

“Since when do you think?”

“I don’t know. Maybe since you moved out. Or this summer?”

“So then I have gained weight.”

“You could take it off in a week.”

“I order in too much now,” I berated myself, “I have to start cooking.”

“You’re healthy. You’re happy. You’re in a relationship.”

“I’ve gone soft. I’ve gone fat. I’ve gone indolent.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” she countered. Then, “If anything, I could lose a pound or two.”

***

I asked my Physical Therapist. “Do you think I’m thin?”

“I think you’re a healthy, fit woman. Why would you want to be thin?”

Healthy? Normal? I don’t want to be average. I want to be thin.

“We’re building the muscles in your back and glutes. You have more mass. That’s a very good thing.”

“Yeah,“ I flex my arm muscle, “I’m strong.”

She high fives me because she’s fun like that. “And you know, muscle is the new black.”

***

One time I had pneumonia for a month and I couldn’t breathe or eat or talk but my selfies were so goddamn good. The clothes hung off my body, the way they’re supposed to, the way they do on runway models and in the magazines.

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I was so concave, so tiny, so ridiculously thin, I was better than you. I was better than me.

“It is changing!” you may insist. Look at Kim K., Serena Williams, Ashley Graham or Iskra. They’ve got millions of Instagram followers. Women don’t want to be outlines! But skinny still calls.

You’re disgusting. Starve, bitch.

***

Anorexia was not fun. Lots of stomach pains. Nutrition wasn’t getting to my muscles and I was exercising so much that my connective tissue tore up. Or something like that.

Standing in a moving subway car was painful, so was sitting. Every time the train stopped and started it was like broken glass cutting into my in groin and down my legs. I’d grimace.

But I was in a full-page spread in 17 Magazine! Twice. And my agency wanted to send me to Paris! My parents wouldn’t let me go, but my friend went. I was so envious of her. What an adventure. How grown up. How romantic!

In Paris my friend was raped by her agent. She was sixteen.

I booked a print job in Miami. I lugged my heavy A.P. Art History book on the plane. I remember this because while I was studying Rococo, we hit turbulence and I didn’t want to die on my way to a modeling job.

Another friend of mine, Milly, had booked the same job. Milly and I had been friends for years. She had lost so much weight—I was so impressed. She must have been a size zero or smaller.

We arrived in Miami late at night. It was a pink hotel with potted palm trees. Milly was famished. She inhaled a huge piece of salmon. She hadn’t eaten yet that day, so that’s how she could get away with it.

I was disgusted by her lack of self-control. I thought it better to spread out eating. I also had it in my head that protein made you fat. My father often made fish for dinner and I’d move it around on my plate or hide it under a piece of lettuce. Then later in the evening, alone, I’d nibble on granola, almonds and fat-free frozen yogurt. For lunch, I’d often eat a bagel but only with one scoop of peanut butter.

I didn’t want my period. I willed it off until I was 18.

I didn’t want to go through puberty because I thought breasts and hips and pubic hair were disgusting. I never understood Judy Blume’s Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret and that line, “I must I must I must increase my bust.”

Who wanted breasts? To me they were globs of flesh that men grabbed or at least wanted to. I would hunch my shoulders. No one ever told me they were a beautiful thing.

I was up for a Versace show. I had to try on pants and walk as best as I could down a runway. I was an ex-figure skater—what did I know about the catwalk? With each step, lifting my legs I felt stabs of pain, maybe in my hip flexors or my psoas muscles. There were so many unknown body parts.

At home, I lay on the ground, hips aching. I was convinced I was made wrong. From the floor, I announced to my parents, “I’m going to be a supermodel. Versace loves me!”

I think they thought I was smug. But I was terrified. I was trapped inside a busted body. I already knew modeling was over.

***

I went to college. At orientation there were all sorts of fun activities that just sounded stupid. I didn’t leave my dorm room and I told my parents “to get me out of Vassar immediately.”

I went on Zoloft and after a few days, I felt something different, almost like deja vu. Was it happiness? Within two months I met my first boyfriend, lost my virginity and ate pizza at 2 a.m. Life was worth living.

I was now a size 8. I probably gained twenty pounds. That summer I modeled, sort of. I couldn’t keep away from it. I wanted to be somebody.

I was told to lose weight. So I went to Wilhelmina’s plus-size division. I was told to gain weight. There were a few girls like me—right in between. It wasn’t very productive, so I started working with their acting department.

Senior year of college, I booked my first role in a John Stamos movie. It was a sex scene. Post-coital, I was supposed to sit on a toilet in a thong, bare- chested while smoking a cigarette. I had some lines. I turned down the role. I really wanted to succeed, I really wanted to be in the movie, but I didn’t want to be naked.

After college, a fellow actress and friend introduced me to her manager, a woman named Gregg. She sent me on an audition with Woody Allen. I got a call back and performed a monologue for him. I played a young student who was in love with him. I had always dreamed of being in his films because I loved Manhattan.

“Thank you for coming in,” Woody Allen said.

This was before #MeToo. That was before I questioned the story line. Gregg was tickled by my audition, and wanted me to meet her associate in L.A. He represented Alexis Bledel and Laura Prepon—The Big Leagues.

I met Gregg’s associate. He had a big belly and was very nice. He seemed excited about representing me.

When, I came back to New York, Gregg sat me down. She had tears in her eyes.

“Sometimes I hate this business,” she told me. “He really liked you and wants to work with you, but you have to lose ten pounds first.”

“Oh,“ I said.

“I’m so sorry,” she took me in her arms.

“I can do that, no problem,” I held back my tears.

***

I spent five hundred dollars, money I didn’t have, on a nutritionist. She told me to eat lots of non-fat greek yogurt. And oatmeal. Or something. I gained weight.

I was 22 or 23 and I was going out to Bungalow 8 every few nights. I wanted to forget the day with apple martinis.

I met David Blaine there. I think we kissed because I was at his apartment. It didn’t go too far. I would remember that. He said it was so refreshing to be with a normal girl who had curves and not another emaciated model. My feelings were hurt.

He gave me his favorite book. He kept lots of copies of it. Primo Levi. It’s about surviving the Holocaust. I read it and was moved.

David Blaine was just acquitted of rape charges. Allegedly he raped a model around the time we met.

***

I was at a barn party in the Hamptons. I was always around rich kids but never rich. I was flirting with this guy, I guess, and this girl with a famous father said, “Stop flirting. I don’t even know why the boys like you. You’re so thick.”

I said, “that’s not a nice thing to say to someone.”

She held up her fists and said, “You want to fight?”

“I’m not going to fight you.”

The girl with a famous father had a younger brother. He was cute. He cornered me behind the barn and said, “ I want to kiss you.”

I told him he was too young. He told me he liked older women. He was only seventeen. Years later, he’d date a much older supermodel. I sometimes still compare myself to her. She’s still very pretty.

***

I went to weight watchers by Union Square when I was twenty-three. Lenore lead the group. She told me I wasn’t heavy enough to join, but then I stood on the scale and she changed her mind. I weighed in at 149. I thought I’d throw up.

I was fastidious. I could eat 20 points a day with a few cheat points and extra points for exercise. First thing I did was cut out alcohol and lost ten pounds right away.

Muffin: minus 3 points, coffee: 1 point, pecans: 1.5 points, raisins: 1 point, exercise: get an additional 2 points.

I liked the meetings. I liked Lenore. She talked about how much she loved cookies.

Losing weight was old hat. Within four months I lost 25 pounds. Lenore was worried about me so I stopped going to weight watchers.

Soon after, I ran into the girl with a famous father at an event.

She said, “I’m sorry for what I said to you, but I think it really worked. You look great.”

I let her take the credit for my weight loss.

I was told by many that now I was thin, skinny, slender, tiny, mini, petitwhatever, I might have a real chance at making it in Hollywood. I was 25.

So I went to Hollywood.

***

I haven’t weighed myself in seven years. Since I was thirty.

My fiancé and I are starting to make home cooked food. First time he made salmon he almost blew up the kitchen. To be fair, there was old grease on the bottom of the oven.

But the second time around, he made cod and it was tremendous. He wasn’t so happy with how I hovered over his shoulder. (I’m a back seat cooker.) But then again, he put so many spices on the fish.

I boiled artichokes. My fiancé had never eaten a boiled artichoke before, so I showed him how to scrape the meat off the leaf with his teeth. Then I scooped out the choke with a spoon. The heart was his favorite part. It’s mine too.

I felt full. I felt healthy. I felt happy.

I wish I had never been anorexic. I feel healthy. I feel happy. I feel like I want to lose two pounds. I feel happy. I feel like I want to lose two pounds.

(Maybe five.)

I feel happy.

I wish I had never been anorexic.

***

I wish I had never been anorexic. It did so much irreparable damage to my body and nervous system.

I wish my mother didn’t want to lose a pound or two. She’s so beautiful and fit. I wish my ex-boyfriend didn’t once tell me in the shower, “You look like you’ve gained three pounds.” I wish that manager in L.A. with the big belly didn’t tell me to lose ten pounds. I wish I didn’t listen to him. I wish studies didn’t show that more than 80 percent of women in the U.S. were dissatisfied with their bodies. I wish more than ten million women in the U.S. weren’t suffering from eating disorders. I wish every 2 minutes a woman in the US wasn’t raped. I wish I was never sexually assaulted. I wish I fully loved and accepted my body. I wish Roe vs. Wade wasn’t under threat. I wish the president wouldn’t tweet, “I have no doubt that, if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement…”

Woman came from man’s rib.

“If she wore a short skirt, she was asking for it.”

Starve off your sexuality. Starve off your womanness.

Why were so many of my friends starving themselves? We all wanted to be somebody. Why did we have to lose weight to get there?

If women had more control over their bodies, If women had more control in politics, If women had more control in the media, If women had more control in finance, If women had more control in fashion, If women had more control in Hollywood, if women had more control in law enforcement…

If women had more control…

Would I still be so caught up trying to lose that pound or two?

Eighty Percent of Women Think They Need to Lose Weight. How I Became One of Them.