Saturday, April 3, 2010


Actor James Marsters, who is best known for his role as “Spike” on the television series, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, once said that casting directors favored actors who looked like Q-Tips. He said they wanted people with big heads on skinny little bodies. He also has said things that would lead one to believe that he had to remain about 10 lbs. or so below his normal weight when he appeared on Buffy (because of all of the shirtless scenes, no doubt).

I also recall a very long time ago reading one of my grandmother’s large stash of old “Star” and “National Enquirer” magazines about how frustrated actress Stefanie Powers was when people told her how much they envied her "naturally" petite physique. She complained that she worked hard for that body, and chose things like apples over other more enticing treats in order to maintain her body in its slender state.

I think that both of these actors are relatively rare in speaking about their efforts to keep their bodies extra trim, possibly below their natural weight set point, in this manner. Most actors tend to emphasize their working out rather than the other sacrifices. Of course, I personally think the truth for some is a bit grimmer than exercising with a trainer everyday and eating healthily. I think there are a lot of people who smoke to lose weight (as Janeane Garafalo has admitted to doing) and others who binge and purge (as one 80’s actress who was viewed as a goddess in her heydey is suspected of doing since she has been reported to have purchased several bottles of Ipecac at a time when she was childless and had no real fear of accidental poisoning).

My point in this post isn’t to talk about slender celebrities or whether their healthy or unhealthy ways are what keeps their physiques at a size that makes casting directors cast a favorable eye on them. Frankly, I don’t care what celebrities do now that I’m no longer 12 and in my grandmother’s basement amusing myself by thumbing through her old gossip newspapers. My point is to talk about what it takes to maintain one of those idealized Q-Tip bodies and the sacrifices that it takes.

I've been thinking a lot about the end of the road on my weight loss because I think that that is actually more important than the path between now and that time. There's no point in losing a lot of weight just to find that you can't keep it off. A lot of women who have lost a lot and are now maintaining talk about having to eat between 1600-1900 calories a day just to stay at weights around 120-130 lbs. and a lot of them are either very fanatical about never putting a sugary treat in their pie-holes again or (at least a little) bitter about losing access to said treats forever. I wonder if this bitterness is part of what makes them so angry and judgmental of people who complain that they can't make the same sacrifices to lose weight rather than empathic. I would like to make clear that I'm not criticizing them or their feelings. We all make choices, and I'm not going to question those of others. They have their priorities and I have mine.

The question for me is about sacrifice and rewards for those sacrifices. For actors and actresses, whose careers ride on their appearance, the reward for having a body which is underweight relative to their bodies' homeostatic state has multiple advantages. For someone like me, trying to force my body lower than it might naturally be on a regular basis by eating 1600 calories a day forever would have relatively few advantages compared to having a little more pleasure with food on a regular basis and not feeling hungry all of the time. Eating 2000 calories per day offers a lot more wiggle room on the food pleasure front.

And, yes, it's no sin to enjoy food. One thing I'm tired of is feeling guilty for liking food and taking pleasure in it. Humans were built to enjoy food that tastes good, as are animals. Let's not minimize the fact that there is pleasure in good food to be had and sacrificing that pleasure for a tiny little body isn't easy or even necessarily natural. Our biological nature is to stuff our mouths with the sweetest, fattiest food we can find, not to care about how we look in a tiny cocktail dress.

I'm not sure what my natural resting weight is going to be, but I'm sure that I'm only willing to sacrifice so much on the altar of thinness. I'll eat as healthily as I can manage, and I'll lose as much weight as I need to to feel stronger, fitter, and healthier (and to end the constant abuse I take every time I go out in public - let's not forget that that is a huge motivator in what I'm doing - I've been essentially emotionally beaten into submission), but I'm not going to push myself to abandon all pleasure in food so I can look better in clothes and marvel at my incredible trimness. I'll leave that to actors and those who are willing to trade in one type of pleasure (food) for another (satisfying their vanity).

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