THE INCREDIBLE WEIGHT-LOSS MACHINE
In an age where society makes it clear that "one can never be too rich or too thin", millions of slightly over-weight women invest tremendous amounts of time, energy and money trying to conform to the image dictated by 20th century living. For most of us, it is an effort in futility.
After suffering through every diet from the water diet to the fruit diet, including a miserable week with brown rice and raw vegetables, and after turning my living room into a mini-gym,
I still needed to lose a little weight. I was ready to give up on ever seeing a size ten again. I hadn't seen it since it since I was twelve years old anyway.
Then a new slimming device was introduced into my home, a device that while somewhat cruel, worked steadily and insidiously. It was a video camera. I groaned as it came through my front door, borne on the shoulders of my husband, who had hopes of catching his beloved family in their natural state; not a pretty sight. I am not particularly photogenic and did not look forward to the added ten pounds that the camera would, out of pure meanness, inflict on my already blossoming figure.
I hid whenever the camera was brought into a room, with its garish lights hunting me down like the F.B.I. on a moonshine raid. On the many occasions when the camera caught me, such as Holidays and birthday parties, I tried to hide beneath a pile of grandchildren. Nevertheless, every time the tape was played, all I saw was thighs bulging from behind wide-eyed, laughing children; skinny children.
Head shots were the worst. There is simply no place to hide a double chin or sagging neckline. For once in my life, I nearly envied Moslem women with their flowing layers of clothing and unrevealing veils.
After about three torturous months of trying to elude the offensive machine bent on implanting my imperfections forever on film, I noticed something strange. Either I was becoming thinner, or the camera had decided to be kinder.
The bathroom scales, which I had always suspected of lying about my weight, now showed a 15 pound loss. This time I chose to believe it. I didn't exercise, unless you consider the countless times I ran up or down the stairs fleeing the video camera, usually manned by a smirking teenager. I didn't diet, although it was hard to consume a decent meal when sadistic members of my family chose dinner as the preferred time to practice film directing. Every time I felt an urge to snitch an Oreo, I could sense "Big Brother" lurking around my home, ready to immortalize my gluttony.
As my weight dropped gradually, muscles firmed and a waistline emerged after being hidden for years; hostility for the video camera changed to something close to love. Of course being on camera willingly, entailed buying a whole new wardrobe, new makeup and weekly visits to the hairdresser. I was beginning to like myself more and more. The same members of my family that had chased me down for "real life shots" now complained that I hogged the camera; an exaggeration, of course.
Video cameras are not inexpensive ways to shape up, but when pitted against the cost of years of health spas, diet foods, video exercise programs and subliminal tapes telling my sub-conscious to slim down, it probably works out even. There is no greater incentive to self-improvement than watching yourself on television, with all your flaws evident to the precise eye of the camera; especially if you live with a family of metabolically thin people, kind of like an elephant in a monkey cage. I have learned to walk with my head held high, shoulders back and stomach, what's left of it, tucked in firmly.
Thanks to the video camera, its motives initially misjudged, I was able to reshape both my body and my self-image. With its constant and somewhat sadistic reminders, I was challenged into becoming a person whose appearance pleases me. Cruel at times? Yes, but so is the pilates workout tape and by comparison the video camera was "no sweat." I feel so good about myself that I'm thinking of investing in a 45inch wall television screen. My family is thinking about selling the camera.