Well apologies for the radio silence around here folks. I've been busy curled up in a ball in a dark corner, rocking back and forth and speaking in tongues. It's been an interesting week, to say the least.
Basically, Dietgirl has been OUTED to all and sundry. I admit that I am a doofus when it comes to all things mathematical, arithmetical and statistical, so perhaps that's why I'd convinced myself that even though the Sunday Mail sells millions of copies, none of the 80 or so people in my building would be among its readers. I mean, surely they'd go for something a wee bit more highbrow?
But noooo. I tiptoed into the office at 7.30AM on Monday morning and was ambushed by a colleague in the foyer.
"Hello!" I said.
"Well HELLOOOO!" she grinned, "And how are YOUUUU?"
"I opened the paper and I thought, that looks like SHAUNA. And it was! Oh my god! I got the shock of my life!"
And so this went on all week. There were a lot of smiles and heads shaking in disbelief, there were jokes and funny looks and hush-hush conversations. Some people even bought the clipping in to pass round their department. It was weird, weird, weird.
But everyone has been lovely. Surprised, but lovely and supportive and kind! But I was still so embarrassed, because even after losing a chunk of weight I am still bigger than 90% of the people I work with. I wanted to get a t-shirt that says I'M NOT DONE YET. If anyone so much glanced at me I wondered if they were trying to picture me twice as wide. I've only lost about 10 kilos in the time I've worked there; they haven't seen any dramatic change. So to see my former GIANT BLOB BOD floating across their Sunday paper would have been a bit of a shock.
I was mildly irritated by one person who cornered me and said, "I heard about your article. It's amazing. But I just can't picture you being so… so… you know… big! I mean, 25 stone!" Her face wrinkled up with mild distaste as if she'd said, "I mean, two vaginas!" or "Sleeping with horses!".
Sometimes I think I should have been an alcoholic, it seems a more socially acceptable character kink. Obesity just isn't glamourous and it seems to make some people uncomfortable.
There was another terrifying moment when one of the guys on my team came up to me on Tuesday and said, "Soooo… I've got a big fat beer gut, eh?"
"I read your site last night."
"I was reading October 2004 and you were describing someone very familiar!"
Shit shit shit! I'd written about him! What had I said? Was it bad? Then I remembered I'd written about how he'd lost an absolute stack of weight and was showing everyone how loose his trousers had become. And I was flamingly jealous of his success as I couldn't bust an ounce at the time.
So it was okay! I'd written nice stuff about him! EXCEPT for that bit where I said he used to have a big fat gut and an assortment of chins! Holy crap. I can't tell you how surreal it was to hear your words back in your face from a real person, after secretly typing away for years and years thinking only the imaginary cyber peoples were reading. And can you imagine how he must have felt to discover someone was talking about his baggy trousers on the internet?
So the week was like every blogger's nightmare come true. At first I felt guilty, embarrassed, extremely silly… oh, you name it.
The Scottish Companion has been copping it too, since our wedding photo was screaming down half the page, stopped only by a small article on Marilyn Monroe's lesbian affair. He got a text from a friend on Monday morning, "Mate, when you get married people usually put a photo in the local rag, not the bloody Sunday Mail!"
Then all his work colleagues have been giving him shit, and a client even called to say, "Nice to see you've found yourself a little wife on the internet."
Arrrgh! The article really does imply that we met online. Not That There's Anything Wrong With That! I jumped down poor Beckie's throat when she commented how nice it is that so many people find lurve online these days. I am so sorry Beckie! I overreacted because the comment sent me into a panic, thinking all my colleagues would think that I was some sort of desperate Mail Order Bride putting my fat ass up for sale on the net. But of course, people hook up all the time online without being of the Mail Order persuasion. I've had some choice liaisons with internet folks in my time, thank you very much; so I'm all for it. Love is love whether you found it in the pub or on the 'puter.
I know some of you have been mortified on my behalf to be suddenly thrust into the spotlight, particularly when I have so ferociously (hysterically) guarded my anonymity for the past 4.5 years. I've been careful to keep my fat writing from my non-fat writing; to use pseudonyms and not write anything that could weed me out in a Google search. It seems ridiculous now that just a few months ago I finally worked up the nerve to tell my own bloody husband about the site. Now it's all out there baby, and I have lost the last place I could hide and let loose and truly be myself.
I spent a couple of days mourning that. Dietgirl has been an outlet and a refuge during this whole lard busting journey. I never stopped to think about how the article might change things, and now it felt strange and scary not have that private space.
Yet I was determined to look at this experience in a positive light. For one, it's nice publicity for Erin's book in the UK. And if anyone I know bothered to check out this site, they probably got bored real quick then got back to their lives.
Plus it's a real hoot to be able to say you were tabloid news.
Most of all I've learned that it's time to stop hiding. Back when I was twice as big, I felt like half the person I wanted to be. I felt like I had to hide myself away from the world and make as little fuss as possible. Since I took up so much physical space, it was like I wanted to make my personality as small and muted as possible. So the virtual space was where I could stretch out and have fun.
I no longer need a secret place to be my real self. Because I am finally being my real self all the time now, out there in the big bad world. I am sick of leading this stupid virtual double-life, it has been bloody exhausting. This isn't to say I'm ditching this site, I'm just ditching the bullshit. I'm sick of worrying about what people think when they're probably not thinking anything at all.
So… let's just get on with it.