Khloé Kardashian made headlines around the world a few years ago when she admitted to wanting a tapeworm to get skinny.
It’s a profoundly bad idea—parasites can cause anything from diarrhea and vomiting to death—but I get it. I was in high school when I first learned about the impact of parasitic infections on impoverished people around the world.
But still, I envied them. Compared to my punishing diet, a parasite that lets you eat anything you want without gaining weight sounded like a luxury.
The internalized hatred from failing to meet unrealistic standards of beauty makes any product that promises freedom from unwanted body fat appealing. But modern, FDA approved alternatives come with a host of side effects that, like parasites, can render life unpleasant or unlivable. Keep reading to find out how to get control of your critical inner voice and love yourself as you are.
What’s old is new again.
Our modern obsession with frailty isn’t new. The tapeworm diet is a beauty fad dating back to the Victoria era, when women would risk anything to achieve a 16-inch waist, including toxic arsenic baths and bone crushing corsets that deformed the ribs and left the spine misaligned.
What is new is our modern arsenal of FDA approved diet pills, and the slew of side effects that make parasites seem like a reasonable alternative. Appetite suppressants such as benzphetamine, phentermine, and phendimetrazine can cause:
- Mood changes, including agitation, uncontrolled anger, hallucinations, and nervousness
- Withdrawal, including depression and severe tiredness
Lorcaserin, sold under the brand name Belviq, is a serotonin receptor agonist that may help control appetite. Potential side effects including nausea, constipation, and mood changes, plus easy bleeding and bruising, twitching, swollen extremities, unexplained fever, enlarged breasts and, my personal favorite, abnormal breast milk production.
And finally, orlistat. This lipase inhibitor is sold under the brand names Alli and Xenical. It can cause a fun combination of oily spotting, gas, soft stools, fecal urgency, and fecal incontinence. Basically, you’re going to crap your pants.
Weight loss is hard. If your doctor recommends any of the above to combat obesity, you should consider their advice carefully.
But personally, I’d rather deal with excess body weight than fecal incontinence. In college, I experimented with a product known to cause explosive diarrhea because it made low-fat foods taste better. I nearly sh*t my pants—while walking back to my dorm room with a guy I had a crush on. It’s funny now. Then, not so much.
How to love yourself more.
You know that voice inside that says you’re fat, ugly, lazy, and stupid? That’s your critical inner voice, and it’s a dick.
You probably wouldn’t talk to a friend that way, and you shouldn’t speak to yourself like that either. Here are a few tips to get control of your critical inner voice and be kinder to yourself from Be Bad First: Get Good at Things Fast to Stay Ready for the Future, by Erika Andersen:
- Pay attention to the voice in your head. To change your internal dialogue, you must be aware of it.
- Write down self-talk. When you see your internal dialogue in writing, it feels less like part of who you are and more like something that can be changed. Don’t want to write things down? Record yourself instead.
- Create a better dialogue. Take your destructive self-talk and create a better dialogue. The key is to replace negative self-talk with something believable. Instead of saying calling yourself fat, consider substituting strong, curvy, powerful, or beautiful.
- Practice. Replacing a lifetime of negative self-talk takes practice. When you find yourself falling into old patterns, substitute your new, more loving dialogue.
How do you combat negative self-image? Let me know in the comments.