Recently, I gained weight.
Maybe you noticed, maybe you didn’t, but I know I have, and I don’t think it’s a very big deal.
It sucks, though. Not being comfortable in your clothes, that sucks. Not feeling good about what you eat, that sucks too. Not fitting the current beauty ideal, that (actually doesn’t) suck so much.
Even though deep down, I know I’m fine. Even though I exercise and I’m toned, full of energy and totally healthy. It still sucks.
Most of the time, I go back and forth between two possible reactions:
1/ Getting frustrated at myself because I can’t lose weight and control what I’m eating.
2/ Getting frustrated at myself because I can’t accept myself as I am.
And it’s been that way for billions of light years (it must have started when I was a teenager) – this balancing act between two forms of guilt. I’d almost gotten to the point of accepting that silent suffering – never really feeling comfortable in my own skin.
But then the last few years, as you know, everything blew to pieces.
Trying to hide our problems never works, I realize now. When you’re dragging around an open wound, and you never take care of it, eventually it’s going to get infected.
That’s why sometimes we end up subconsciously choosing relationships with others that will take us there. Expose us.
Force us to face what’s eating at us. Take us all the way to the end of our pain. And a lot of the time, the other person doesn’t have anything to do with it. It’s a story playing out between me and myself. That was the case with my last relationship.
So when I left that relationship, I decided to also leave my body alone. I’d tried almost everything to finally feel at peace with my body. Nothing worked. Acceptance, excessive exercise, and diets, of course. I was never very extreme because I like life too much – I was just at a very typical level of self-hatred, which I think a lot of us are familiar with.
So I let it all go. I called it all into question, and I decided to take as much time as I needed to learn to build a relationship of trust with myself.
And when I say my-self, it’s also my-body.
I tried to listen to it. It’s so hard to listen to your body when you’ve been telling it to shut up your whole life. When you’ve been living outside of yourself, only seeing yourself through the eyes of others. I started hearing things that were almost imperceptible. Dizziness, nausea after eating too much sugar – sugar, which I’d happily given up entirely, insidiously came back and took up (way too much) space in my life again. The feeling of having a “happy stomach” after eating a salad and grilled fish. Chocolate as a healer for my feelings.
Anxiety that made me want to throw myself on the nearest edible item. The meals I ate when I wasn’t even hungry. The delicious coffee that just made me nervous. The hunger we satisfy without being truly nourished.
So I let it all go, and I gained weight.
I gained weight – about 15 pounds, and I tried not to go too crazy over it. I tried to simply observe. What was going on inside of me, how were other people reacting to it, what did I want to wear, what did I think of myself naked, how did it affect my sex life?
Because ultimately, why do we want to be thin? Is it for ourselves, is it for others? And if it’s for others, for whom exactly? Our friends, society, our man or our woman?
I’ve gone through weight fluctuations in the past and I’ve always been desired just the same – by men who knew how to love a woman. And I’ve been skinny and toned and perfect and still looked at with disdain – by men who didn’t know how to love a woman.
And despite everything, that’s still all secondary.
Because obviously the most important gaze is the one I place on myself.
And that gaze – what is it really made of?
Models, images, ideas. There are, of course, all the girls on Instagram and in films. They create this sort of background we all carry inside – despite ourselves. And then there are a few shining stars. Marine, a friend of mine you don’t know – she is a beauty icon to me, and I’ve seen her lose and gain weight at various times in her life, and she’s always remained just as gorgeous, always held herself just as high. Graceful and unapologetic, like a cat.
I think of her very much like a talisman, to remind myself that while some women stay the same weight their whole lives – for a lot of others, it varies. And that’s okay.
That self-gaze is also made up of how I’d been seen in the past.
I had a mother who was terrorized when she saw me gain weight as a teen, when my body was trying to find itself. I remember words that scarred me deeply, words that can’t be forgotten. Today I have friends going through those same difficulties as mothers, and I know it’s not easy – finding the right words to say to a child trying to find herself… But for me, so young, if I couldn’t be loved by love itself, if I wasn’t perfect in the eyes of the person who made me, what else was left for me to do?
I turned to men and they made me feel a lot better with their love and their burning desire. That helped. I gained an incredible sense of sexual and physical confidence – but it was extremely fragile. Because that gaze still belonged to others.
And then working in fashion really had an impact on me. Working in fashion at a time when being thin was regarded as the ultimate goal. Being at my “ideal weight” (= not skinny, just me) and hearing a stylist make fun of me because I didn’t fit into the sample size zero. No need to say more – I hadn’t created a solid enough sense of self to not suffer from hearing those things.
I ended up crumbling under it all, and now I’m finally rising up again, with incredible gratitude and joy. And I’m finally taking care of my soul, finally taking care of my spirit, finally really taking care of my body – not brutalizing it.
I’m acknowledging what I’ve always known – that eating is emotional.
You see, I’ve finally understood something – if you don’t have a practice, nothing changes. And if you don’t have any beliefs, nothing changes. And our relationship with food and our relationship with our bodies is the most basic, simple representation of our relationship with ourselves.
For the moment, I have no beliefs about the way I feed myself. I like everything. Too much. I’m eating to fill a void. I’m having a lot of trouble listening to my body because too many voices are trying to express themselves. Both stress and joy make me want to eat. I don’t eat at precise times. I never have anything in my fridge. I cook sporadically. I never plan ahead. Never! I only realize I need to eat when I’m starving and it’s too late, so I end up snacking on cheese. I have no rituals other than drinking coffee in the morning. Sometimes I eat without even realizing it. I’ll be there chatting and without even noticing, I’ll eat an entire baguette. I eat out all the time, like an American. I get take out, I snack.
I’m only eating good things, but there’s just no rhyme or reason to it.
It’s total anarchy, basically.
And for me, that says a lot.
Anarchy is stressful.
Believing in something, setting simple rules for yourself to follow most of the time, that’s reassuring. Thinking of yourself, about how you’ll probably be hungry in a few hours, that’s self-love, very simple, very basic.
Learning to nourish yourself means repairing your relationship with yourself. Loving yourself. Knowing how to sort through your various desires. It means living with awareness and living with awareness, for me, means being happy and at peace.
So, at the moment, all I know is that I know nothing. Or almost nothing.
I know when I eat little to no sugar, I feel good.
I know when I plan my meals in advance, I eat better.
I recognize when I’m eating in peace, taking my time to breathe. And when I’m eating at war.
So, this year, for the first time, I wanted to finally turn that gaze back on myself. I’m single, and very happy to be, so I’m trying hard to only look for myself in my own gaze and no one else’s. It’s not easy – my first reflex is often to seek exterior validation – it’s no coincidence I became a public figure!
So I’m going to retreat a little bit, meditate, take care of myself, continue to listen to my body and dive into its mysteries, confront my joys and sorrows. I’m lucky to be able to do so, to have the time and space and curiosity, and I really want to enjoy it to the full.
And I hope to find that peace, acceptance and balance. I don’t want to make the same mistake again of thinking I can keep moving forward without tending to my wounds.
In the meantime, I don’t know how you all are doing, but me, I gained a little weight. Nothing dramatic, no big deal – it happens. And more importantly, we’ll see where it takes me next.