Wednesday, January 6, 2021

LIQUID GOLD

Yesterday, I ate cockles with a dip of cut chili in soy sauce. I shared this with my sister Aqilah. I also had mala fries and spaghetti for dinner. Throughout the night and this morning, I think I’ve been suffering from a case of food poisoning, although no one else in the family is affected. I’ve had the runs multiple times, and I’ve thrown up once. There are two types of vomiting, one is when you’ve eaten too much oily food and have to relieve your bloatedness by vomiting, and one is the food poisoning kind. I don’t mind the former because it provides a little relief after, but I am very much in disdain of the latter, which I’ve been doing today. The vomiting caused by food poisoning is a spasming, heaving kind of movement that hurts my core, and it happens intensely, even when there is pretty much nothing left to be vomited out. Every time I heave and hurl, and feel nothing coming up my throat, I wonder if it’s worth it to just die instead. It’s painful and extremely tiring. My grandma has made me a cup of very concentrated tea, it’s one of her old-wives’ home remedies that she believes helps with the runs. I don’t have the energy to risk eating anything, and I like tea anyway, so I have consumed it. 

I actually started writing this post not to describe the ins and outs of food poisoning and diarrhoea, but to wax lyrical about eating disorders. While I was on the toilet, emptying my guts out, there was a part of my brain that said “well at least I can lose some weight this way” and this was when I was in absolute physical pain, doubled over and clenching, and clutching at my stomach. I have fought this voice many times, but it occasionally appears to make itself heard. When I was thirteen to sixteen, I had an eating disorder. I barely ate anything, and I would walk home from school when I could. This was from Anderson Secondary School in Ang Mo Kio back to where we lived back then, in Edgefield Plains, in Punggol. It would take about two hours, and I would walk, following my bus route, either bus 159 or 136. I also skipped rope and ran a lot, and would run up the stairs to our apartment on the 17th storey, every day, which is why my knees now are pretty much fucked to hell. 

I’m currently employed by lululemon, and as you would expect, there are definitely traces of diet culture and eating disorders in a few of my colleagues here. It manifests in many different ways. Sometimes they only eat a certain type of food, and adamantly avoid others. Some consume a limited number of meals per day. Some don’t eat after a certain time of day. Some only allow themselves to eat after they’ve expended the same amount of calories during a workout. Once, I shared my past of having had an eating disorder with a person I used to work with. This person would not wear a cardigan or any more items of clothing even if they were feeling very cold at work. They said the cold burns more energy, helping them to maintain their weight. When I told them I’d left that part of my life behind, they seemed almost appalled. They said “would you really wanna waste all those years that you’ve run and walked and starved yourself for?” 

I’ve since recognized how toxic it is to have an eating disorder. I barely remember what happened during those years of my life, I was always lethargic and sleepy because I wasn’t eating enough, and all I remember of it is the time I spent running, or skipping rope, or walking home. Ever since I’ve come out of that stage, I realize what a grand waste of my life it is, to be so consumed by a number, and the frame of my body. I read more political articles written by anti-diet-culture causes, especially (but not limited to) feminist ones. Every single thing you do in your life has a political value to it. When you’re obsessed with your weight and looks, you won’t have the energy to question the system at large. If each individual is preoccupied with the number on their weighing scale, they are too distracted from wondering why their governments are going to war, why capitalism is still the economic mode at play, why the law serves the powerful but never the people who need help most. If I’d spent the two hours per day reading something, I could have contributed so much more to society, than I can now. The diet industry is one of the biggest in the world, and it’s also one of the most unhealthy and predatory. Your worth is much more than the number on the scale, and you shouldn’t allow a self-serving, exploitative industry to tell you otherwise. Alright, it’s time for me to try to get some sleep. I hope the worst of it has passed.

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