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Pack Mentality

On my way out of my apartment to exercise on the trail the other week, I ran into a pack of thin girls. Given the choice between running into a pack of thin girls and a pack of wolves, I hesitate a little bit longer than any rational human being should. Do I want a physical battle or a mental one? How big are these wolves exactly and have they eaten recently? How about the thin girls?

Lately I’ve been very self-confident, nay I say “full of myself,” and there’s a lot of myself to be full of. I’ve been feeling superfly enough that I should have my own groovy theme song that plays while I stride confidently down the street, kind of like Shaft. I think it should be sung to the melody of ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” only subbing the title with “Pasta Queen” of course. I’ve just ruined that song for you forever, haven’t I?

If I walk past one thinner or prettier girl, I’m fine. However, when I run into a pack of thinner, prettier girls, I can feel that uber-confidence take a hit. I have to chant to myself “Don’t be intimidated. They are not better than you because they have 15% body fat and skin as smooth as goat’s milk. Goat’s milk is totally overrated. It’s all about yak milk these days.” There is something about being outnumbered that makes the self-doubt creep out from whatever dark well I’ve shoved it down.

The most ridiculous thing is that this pack of thin girls consisted of friends of the one neighbor who has been the nicest to me. She’s said hello every time I’ve seen her and even offered to help me carry my empty boxes to the dumpster when I moved in. The only person she’s really competing with in the Nice Neighbor Pageant is Chuck from downstairs who I don’t see very often and could have killed if he’d been walking out his door at the wrong time when my 2 liter of Sprite Zero rolled off the balcony last week. (Damn you, plastic bags!)

I shouldn’t fear this girl or her friends. So they like to lie around the pool and tan, displaying their gorgeous bodies for the whole apartment complex. So what?! I guess female rivalry must be hard-coded into our genes as a way for us to try to get the best mates. Even though I tell myself not to fear the thin girls or be intimidated by them, I still am. It’s like the early Darwin alert system, “Warning! Rival, rival! Endangering chances of procreation!” Personally I hope it is just genetics because I’d hate to think I’m a shallow, jealous person. Let’s just blame the inescapable forces of nature instead, shall we? Character flaws, shmaracter flaws.

I feel especially bad about it because I have a friend who is on the other end of this spectrum than me. She’s the thin, hot girl who can post a pic of herself on her blog and get thirty “OMG, u r so hot!” comments. She’s also intelligent and thoughtful, but she gets a lot of hate from other women because she attracts the attention of men. She can’t control that and she’s had some trouble making female friends because of it. It’s like you can’t win if you’re fat or thin, pretty or homely. Why do women do this to each other? Where is the sisterhood?

There seems to be a common myth that losing weight will solve all your problems. Once I’m thin I’ll get the guy, wear the cute clothes, and no one will be hateful to me because of what I look like. Maybe even a little part of myself still believes this on some level, though more and more I see it as the big lie it really is. Everyone gets some baggage because of what they look like, it just varies as to what baggage you get.

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Peter Audrain • July 21, 2006 at 1:36 pm

Well. You don’t want to get *too* philosophical. For instance, it’s possible that your friend isn’t as upset about being-so-hot-that-other-women-feel competitive-towards-her as she says she is, but is simply trying (admirably) to “relate” to the problem of being overweight, in the interest of friendship, as best she knows how.

At least, it will be good to get down to where you really want to be yourself, first, and *then* see if it really does just cause a lot of problems. From my own experience of being thin and 20-something, for a few glorious years, it genuinely does rock.

It’s not so much that being overweight actively stinks all the time, as that there are a lot of absences, missed feelings, and things that never really happen in one’s life that come with being overweight. (As much because of how you treat yourself as because of how others do.)

So weighing a weight that you’re really happy with, and that largely removes your weight as an issue when you are relating to other people, sort of opens up your all senses–like seeing the world after rain.

So anyway, I really think it’s worth it!


Ari • July 21, 2006 at 5:26 pm

I totally get this. I am constantly fighting the “only compare yourself to yourself” battle.


kathryn • July 21, 2006 at 6:04 pm

Whenever I see a pack of thin girls, I comfort myself with the thought that I have better boobs!


Jeni • July 21, 2006 at 6:30 pm

I am dying laughing here. You crack me up! I know exactly how you feel because this is what I encounter at my job every day. Eek! We’re all friends, but something insides me just wants to attack! Or eat them. :)


Heather • July 22, 2006 at 12:04 pm

“It’s like the early Darwin alert system, ‘Warning! Rival, rival! Endangering chances of procreation!’ ”

For this assessment, you win at life.

That is all.



Narelle • July 22, 2006 at 8:03 pm

I have only been reading your blog for a short time but I enjoy it very much. I have lost around 70kg (154 pounds) and am getting down the business end of it all and I am finding that I am going through a lot of things that you voice in your blog. I found myself nodding continually at this post especially the last paragraph. To some point I am finding that although I have lost this amount of weight, what I really wanted in life is still elluding me and I find myself questioning why I did it all in the first place. I guess I have to come to the conclusion that I did this for the whole overall improvement of me rather than one particular thing. The head knows that however it is taking the heart a bit longer to comprehend. Thank you for your inciteful and honest comments about your journey – I am thoroughly enjoying reading them.



Coco • July 22, 2006 at 9:21 pm

O.K., here’s the thing, PastaQueen . . . I have to agree with Peter on this (hi, Peter, remember me?I accidentally ‘pitchforked’ you on this very blog . . .). I, too, spent my twenties, even a few years into my thirties, as what some called “hot.” (I felt I was entitled after a miserably awkward and ugly pre-and post-pubesensce). Anyway . . . stuff happened, I got fat, I still AM fat, months from 40 (!), and I can tell you: there is no “woe is me” to being a healthy, toned slim! I’m sure there are others with different experiences, but for the most part,life *is* easier on so many levels (all the ones you so perfectly capture), even if it’s only the absence of this THING in your head that we’re almost always conscious of.

You’re almost there, hun, and you absolutely motivate me, and many others. Don’t let the thin ones get in your brain. Keep struttin’, for all of us who hope to strut in your footsteps! =)


PastaQueen • July 22, 2006 at 10:00 pm

Coco – I didn’t mean to imply that being thin isn’t any better than being fat. If I believed that I wouldn’t be bothering to lose weight. I just meant that being thin doesn’t mean you have no problems. You just have different problems than when you were fat, though perhaps better problems. It’s like how people who win the lottery no longer have difficulty paying the rent, but have problems with moochers and handling their fortune. Still problems, but better problems.


R • July 23, 2006 at 10:38 pm

Having gained and lost weight a bunch of times, I can attest to the fact that being thin does not solve all your problems. It can, indeed, cause problems when you don’t fit in because you spend so much more time and energy being thin (exercising, eating right) than your peers do.

But, the lottery thing is more interesting: The problem with lottery winners is not that they have new problems, but that they don’t have frugal habits, cooking skills, and budgeting handed to them with the lottery. Without traversing that learning curve, they blow the dough.

Which makes me wonder about the dieting learning curve. What are the components? How To Exercise, including how to fit it in. How To Deal with Food Police and Food Pushers. I’m still bad at this – I avoid them rather than deal with it. How to Deal with Jerks who tell you what to weigh: Newsflash: the jerks are as opinionated about a woman of normal weight as a woman overweight on the health charts.

I was trying to convince myself today to “let go” of the dieting obsession. If I were 10 pounds from my goal weight, instead of 40, if I had been successfully losing weight for 6 months instead of 1.5 months, if I had successfully weathered social activities, work stress, and felt comfortable with the tactics it takes me to lose weight, then I would be more productive at work. I wouldn’t change what I’m doing – exercising, eating right, drinking lots – but I’d be able to do that on auto-pilot. When does THAT happen, I wonder? I operate on auto-pilot with money; why can’t I do the same thing with food? I mean, what skills am I still missing, and where do I find them?


Lowcarb_dave • July 24, 2006 at 5:22 am

OMG You are HOT Pasta Queen!


PastaQueen • July 24, 2006 at 10:41 am

Lowcarb_dave – LOL! Heh, you had me at “OMG.”


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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JennetteFulda.com now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for keyboards ruined by coffee spit-takes or forehead wrinkles caused by deep thought.

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