Body dysmorphia is a really weird thing. It means that I am constantly unaware of what size I am, I am mentally capable of rendering clothing labels utterly inconsequential and completely distrustful of what I see in the mirror.
It is a distressingly transparent manifestation of my deep-rooted desire for utter control, of my belief that I am different to everyone in the world (and not in a particularly good way), that size X might be okay for you but size Y is what I need to be. That my visibility in the world is terrifying. That to look anything other that frail and a bit unhealthy is scary, because it presents an image of strength and competence that I don’t feel quite ready to live up to.
Years in therapy have made it painfully obvious that my obsession with food and my body is nothing to do with food, or my body, which is a relief because it alleviates a heavy dose of feminist guilt that I have carried around for a very long time. However, it doesn’t matter how aware I am of this stuff, it can be hard to remember on a daily basis.
It’s January, the month of fad diets and magazines telling us how to lose Christmas weight. And when everyone else is talking about slimming down, I can buy into the supposed normalcy of it, which (for me) is very dangerous. For me, dieting is not normal, ever. It is obsessive, and compulsive, and belies a deeper pain that no amount of weight loss is going to alleviate.
I am too good at it for my own good, I could be a bloody nutritionist the amount I know about glycemic indexes and saturated fat content and how to drop 6 pounds in 6 days and so I really resent crappy weight loss gimmicks.
Rodial have this weird selection of products, some of which are described with an accompanying caveat that they are ‘not weight-loss products’, like the Crash Diet Gel which seems just like a moisturizer, or something. I’m not really sure what it is, but it’s certainly marketed as a weight-loss product.
Some are powders that you put in water and drink, like the Crash Diet Sticks, which are just hugely caffeinated supplements (they can use pr-heavy statements like ‘rich in guarana and green tea’ all they want, but the reality is those ingredients are just pumping you full of caffeine). That’ll decrease your appetite, increase your metabolism, reduce water retention and is completely unsustainable (and, particularly with water weight, you will gain it back almost instantly).
Some are a disgusting looking smoothie that falls into the line of all of those weight loss smoothies, but about fifty times more expensive. But the one that makes me saddest, I think, is ‘size zero’ cream.
I feel really sad around the size zero debate, because it always seems to be shaming someone. Whether shaming girls who are naturally very slim, or shaming girls who want to be, or shaming girls who aren’t and don’t care, it never seems very loving. It plays into the whole ‘real women’ shtick that only declares certain body types as qualifying into womanhood and ultimately sucks.
This is the market that Rodial is selling to, that shame-y, self-loathey one that is inclined to fork out truckloads of cash based on the vaguest promises known to womankind. The product description on their website sounds like it came off of a Brass Eye parody:
A triple action body moisturiser with ultra-powerful PRO-SVELTYL® to encourage the reduction of stubborn fatty deposits and water retention for smoother looking skin.
‘Pro-sveltyl’? Really?! Are women who want to lose weight assumed to be so unfathomably stupid that a name like that is meant to trick us? The sad thing is, so many of us (myself included) are sometimes so desperate for something, anything to fix us – a ‘fix’ that can be manifested in the immediacy of a weight-loss gimmick – that it works.
Wanting to lose weight is not always a bad thing. At the moment, it is for me, but it might not be for you. Feeling like you have to, or ought to in order to fit in or conform to someone else’s prescription of womanhood obviously is a bad thing. And being coerced into buying someone’s sappy and lazily marketed ‘lightweight, delicate’ moisturizer under the illusion that you are going to wake up like Cara Delevingne sucks.
Ultimately, I think what distresses me most about this isn’t the sensationalist naming of products. It isn’t the weight loss. It isn’t mentioning tummy tucks. By all means, if you want to lose weight, or get a tummy tuck, and your motives are clear to you and you look after your own wellbeing, nobody ought be judging you. It’s the assumption that women are manipulated into being so desperate to drop a size or lose an inch that we will do anything.
I mean, I will and have done anything, I have starved myself and vommed in every bathroom in London, but I have done so with a depressing understanding of the realities of weight loss and I was hardly an advert for healthy and happy living or self-fulfillment.
The reality is, that it is never going to be the weight loss that is actually going to make you happy, it is going to be weight loss accompanied by lifestyle changes that offer more energy, or enable you to live healthier, or whatever. I say you, I am sort of saying this to myself.
And that’s where the Size Zero cream really falls short. Not only does it seem more like snake-oil than a moisturizer but it is a one-trick pony and, if there’s anything I know about sustained weight loss or being a size zero, it’s that it’s got fuck all to do with pro-sveltyl.
Have you tried the Rodial stuff? Or general weight loss gimmicks? Do you think I am wrong? Lemme know. I wanna know.
Olivia is not slathering herself in pro-sveltyl on Twitter @oliviasinger.