Reflections on Body Size

I used to consider my body a burden. Its size and limitations created a range of discomforts, inconveniences, and conditions I found downright depressing. Losing half my body weight created an almost surreal awareness of my own body and its size. It’s been so many years now that I can no longer remember what living in a 340lb body was really like. If I were able to strap 150lbs to my body, perhaps with a weighted vest or something similar, I don’t believe the effect would be like it was.

I assume it’s just a fashion but I find it bizarre—young guys wearing incredibly skinny jeans. Out and about this week I realized how many young men are wearing pants that accentuate how they have apparently no butts and legs like toothpicks. Guys think this looks good?? Wacky kids these days. Still, I’ve always been rather fascinated by very thin people and what it would be like to have a body so slight. Clothes can be just as slight with a true second skin fit. How clothes feel was one of the biggest differences I noticed through my transition. When you’re very large, clothes do not fit you, they cover you. I still notice the way large people will tug and pull at their clothes. I know what’s going on. When they move a certain way. I know what they’re feeling. I had my little tricks that I thought were hiding how uncomfortable I was in my clothes. Now I know I never hid anything.

I have noticed this 20lbs I’ve put on. I feel every pound. Hard to believe there was a time I wouldn’t have noticed if I put on 30 or even 40lbs. I notice the different feeling in my clothes. Putting on larger clothes does not make a difference. I feel my body and inhabit my body in such a different way now.

I recently read an article about actors who accomplished incredible physical transformations for a role. Robert DeNiro always seems to win the most praise for putting on weight to play Jake LaMotta but that feat has been eclipsed. Jared Leto lost weight to look like a skeletal drug addict in “Requiem for a Dream.” He needed a wheelchair to ease the burden on his body when he gained 70lbs rapidly to play John Lennon’s murderer in “Chapter 27.” He has said that the weight gain took a toll on his health and he doesn’t believe he’ll ever be the same. George Clooney injured his back and became depressed after putting on weight for “Syriana.”

Mila Kunis and Natalie Portman both struggled to tranform into bone-thin but muscled ballerinas for “Black Swan.” Kunis described the experience as nearly “ruining” her. Rapper 50 Cent wanted to prove he was serious about an acting career when he lost weight to portray an athlete who develops cancer. A few hundred calories and three hours on a treadmill every day gave him an emaciated, sickly appearance.

The most stunning physical transformation has got to be Christian Bale but few people are even aware. To portray a man haunted by a mysterious past and suffering horrific insomnia, Bale starved himself down to 121lbs for 2004’s barely-seen “The Machinist” then gained a reported 109lbs in six months for “Batman Begins.”



I admit to a secret wish. I’d like to experience what it’s like to be extremely thin. I wish it was something you could just try out. I don’t want to starve myself and I don’t think I’d be able to do that anyway. Though I’d be interested to see what would happen to my body if I went through some kind of starvation experience. Christian Bale reportedly ate one can of tuna fish and one apple a day until he reached 121lbs. He described experiencing euphoria and feeling impervious to high temperatures that everyone else on the movie set found stifling. How was he able to accomplish such a feat? Bale’s total immersion in his roles has become legendary. His obsession with inhabiting the role completely was obviously more important to him than eating. He even lost more weight than the director had expected and had everyone worried that he’d be too weak to perform.

Could I ever be really thin? Probably not unless some kind of medical problem should befall me. The BodyBugg and the heart rate strap are powerful tools for me. Losing half your body weight develops in you an expectation that you can control your body when you want to. I’m aggravated that I haven’t been able to lose this extra 20lbs but I see this time as a period of experimentation. I know I can get control again, it’s a question of finding what works for my body now. If you feel a need to take control, keep looking. Only you can find your own solution.