So yesterday, 18 months after I decided to go for treatment, I finally attended my first “proper” session at the eating disorders clinic. It went well and I feel positive about it. Therefore, once it was over, I decided I ought to treat myself. Hell, I deserved it. Because obviously, walking into a health centre, sitting down with a black coffee and spending 90 minutes moaning about your messed-up life requires huge amounts of courage (although thankfully not too much in the way of stiff upper lip).
You may be wondering, as was I, what constitutes a suitable post-ED clinic attendance treat. Not food, obviously, because Food Is Not A Reward. But then what? Fags? Booze? Porn? No, because all that would lead to potential cross-addiction (or whatever being into everything bad is called these days). How about a nice, good book? No, because I’ve still not finished my current non-fiction (Delusions of Gender) nor my fiction (The Stranger’s Child) and besides, when I’m allowed something new, it’ll probably have to be something boring like How Not To Have A Totally Ridiculous Attitude Towards Food. Maybe something from Hobbycraft – pre-emptive occupational therapy, as it were? Trouble is, I’m still halfway through knitting a shawl and cross-stitching a map of Cheshire and I need to finish these projects for Christmas, so that’s a definite no, too. Make-up? I’ve got everything I “need”, hence buying something new would require deciding which part of my face is responding least successfully to “treatment”, all of which sounds very negative and not remotely rewarding. Clothes? Definitely not clothes, since the whole point of the treat is that I’ve embarked on a recovery process which may actually involve me getting bigger (although ideally I’m thinking that once I eat more and get less obsessed with food I’ll start eating less again due to not being obsessed and get really thin and it’ll all be ace … or something). So what, then? What?
Okay, I’ll admit it. I got to the checkout at Sainsbury’s with nothing more than milk, bread and Dry-Nites pull-ups (the latter were for Youngest, by the way – rest assured I hadn’t decided that not having to go to the loo in the night would be my treat). Then I chucked in a £1.99 bargain magazine pack containing Heat and Closer because hey, that’s something. And I haven’t read complete and utter crap for, ooh, ages (apart from that Daily Mail piece on obese kids and nurseries. But I certainly don’t count that as having been a treat).
So far I’ve only looked at Closer, but here’s the thing that strikes me: perhaps I’m primed to think this right now, but now, more than ever, it seems to me the whole bloody magazine is about, not celebrities, but body size and weight. That whole topic is taking over. There used at least be some kind of nod towards celebrity babies and relationships, but now? All of it boils down to size. No point in knowing whether someone’s with someone else unless we also know whether he (it has to be he) loves her (always her) curves or likes her skinny. And if they’ve reproduced, sod the baby pictures – has she lost her baby weight yet? Was it too fast or is she taking too long? Should said couple split up, the main question to be asked is whether she’s gone for the self-starvation option or is hopelessly comfort eating. These are the things that matter. If I didn’t know it before, I have just discovered: some girls are bigger than others. That is the only thing there is to know.
We get three whole pages dedicated to Kerry Katona’s weight history, complete with pictures and stats. The level of research devoted to this is remarkable (Newsnight, watch and learn). From this I have found out that right now, I am much thinner than Kerry but in 2000 she was thinner than me (but then again, she was dating Bryan McFadden, so it’s swings and roundabouts). Other random things which are now indelibly imprinted on my indiscriminate memory: Kanye West prefers Kim Kardashian skinny. Adele was a size 14-16 before she got pregnant. Abbey Crouch wants another baby but might have to put on some weight first. Lady Gaga has lost a few pounds from dancing. Why does anyone need to know these things? Why?
Looking at Kerry’s past weights, it crosses my mind that despite the fact that I consider myself to have a totally messed-up relationship with food, my weight’s actually fluctuated less than hers over the past decade. And yet she’s not considered to have an eating disorder as such, just to be lacking in self-control. Perhaps there are different rules for celebrities. If you stumble once while leaving a night club you’re considered to have a drink problem, yet you can be utterly emaciated and no one considers you to have a serious eating disorder (at least, one hopes not. Otherwise mocking individuals for being seriously ill is now perfectly acceptable). Of course, the one thing that’s missing from this is a section on Kerry’s future weights. Surely it’d be possible to do a ten-year weight forecast using Photoshop? What is Kerry likely to weigh in 2022? Tell us, Closer, tell us!
In ten years’ time perhaps we’ll have abandoned the whole pretence that we’re bothered about what singers and actors do in their private lives. They’ll just be performers-cum-hunger artists, or perhaps just hunger artists, growing and shrinking for our entertainment. Growing and shrinking, growing and shrinking. Which all sounds incredibly painful and boring.
Let’s be honest, I should just have gone for the booze and fags option.