My personal blog as a 'grown-up' Goth and Romantic living in the Highlands of Scotland. I write about the places I go, the things I see and my thoughts on life as a Goth and the subculture, and things in the broader realm of the Gothic and darkly Romantic. Sometimes I write about music I like and sometimes I review things. This blog often includes architectural photography, graveyards and other images from the darker side of life.

Goth is not just about imitating each other, it is a creative movement and subculture that grew out of post-punk and is based on seeing beauty in the dark places of the world, the expression of that in Goth rock. It looks back to the various ways throughout history in which people have confronted and explored the macabre, the dark and the taboo, and as such I'm going to post about more than the just the standards of the subculture (Siouxsie, Sisters of Mercy, Bauhaus, et al) and look at things by people who might not consider themselves anything to do with the subculture, but have eyes for the dark places. The Gothic should not be limited by what is already within it; inspiration comes from all places, the key is to look with open eyes, listen carefully and think with an open mind..

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Slenderness, Diet and Exercise

Two things recently have got me thinking about this. One is Adora Batbrat's recent vlog saying that dieting is better than anorexia.

First of all, thin and beautiful are not synonyms, and while people may find certain proportions more pleasing than others, a lot more goes into personal beauty than shape alone, and every person has a different ideal for beauty. Thinking that self-starvation is productive and unhealthy levels of thinness are necessary is, to be frank, stupid, illogical and heading very close towards mental health issues like anorexia and bulimia. 

Adora's vlog (which is ::here::) was interesting, but I am divided in my opinion towards it.

I think they are a reaction to seeing herself on 'thinspo'  and pro-anorxia blogs. I sadly have to agree that those (especially girls) who really want to be very thin will go ahead, regardless of what people tell them, to try and get very thin, and that it is better to eat healthily than to starve oneself. I'm not a nutritionist, and therefore not entirely sure on how healthy the Montingac Method is, but as it advocates eating a lot of whole grains, vegetables and fruits, and quite a range of foods, without quantity restrictions, it seems reasonably healthy.  I think pointing out the harm psychologically and in terms of brain health that is caused by self-starvation and other drastic measures is certainly a good thing, and trying to steer people away from anorexia and other eating disorders is a good thing, but I don't think her video explores enough - perhaps Part 2 will elaborate further. 

Anorexia, in my experiences helping friends who have suffered, is a mental illness with broader root causes than simply wanting to attain a shape or weight - the desire for thinness is a manifestation of deeper issues, and anorexia significantly about control and obsessive, unhealthy levels self-control as well as thinness, and I'm not sure how many of the people who are drawn towards that self-destructive path will be swayed away by being able to attain the same results without the deliberate self-denial.

I do think she should also perhaps mention that she is naturally quite thin (or at least I presume she is from looking at photographs of her wider family) and she is also quite tall and dresses to accentuate her slenderness, and I would imagine her active lifestyle pays a part too (she's always busy!). I do think there should be a frank acknowledgement that some people cannot be as thin as she is healthily because genetics and natural build plays a huge part in that. To many, that may seem obvious, but perhaps her younger viewers would find that helpful. She does acknowledge that not everyone wants to be thin, which certainly is step away from blanket ideals of beauty, and that her slender aesthetic is a personal one, which implies that it is not something to apply to everyone or that everyone ought to adopt, but I think that this could have also been made more explicit. 

I know that the title was selected in order to grab attention, particularly of those wanting to be extremely thin, and I think that perhaps in order to retain the attention of those who are looking to be very thin she has decided not to explore the motivations behind wanting to look very thin, or go into detail about how people have different standards of beauty.  

Away from Adora's video, I have noticed people keep asking me how I stay slender, what diet I am on and similar questions. The answer is simple: I am not on any diet, and I make no conscious effort to stay slender. I eat a good variety of foods, with a lot of whole-grains and as an ex-vegetarian, a lot of fruit and vegetables and not a lot of red meat, and I eat however much I want - last week I went to the all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet and got through a starter, three large plates of assorted 'main meal' food, two slices of (double chocolate) cake and three bowls of desert, and that was my monthly 'treat' of a meal out of the house - but I lead an active, sporty and outdoorsy lifestyle and I am genetically prone to be skinny; I come from a long line of tall skinny people who don't have to watch what they eat to stay skinny, and actually have to deliberately eat more to put on weight. 

My natural, healthy shape is how I am now; I am just under 5'10, have a 27 inch waist (accentuated by regular corset-wearing), and most of my weight is muscle rather than fat. I wear between a UK size 10 and  UK size 12, with my bust and thighs tending to be what push me towards a 12 as I have an ample bust and powerful legs.  In recent years as I have done more sport I have certainly gained muscle, which of course does make me look larger, so I am not willowy any more, and I am not the "beanpole" I was as a teenager any more. Everybody has a different healthy body-shape - some people are naturally more slender (like Adora Batbrat) and other people are naturally stockier, and the range is quite broad and varied - but forcing your body too far out its individual healthy shape, either by becoming to skinny or too fat for your natural build, is unhealthy. 

Diet should be about providing your body with the full range of nutrients required to stay healthy and enough energy to power you through the day, it should not become an exercise in obsessive, unhealthy levels self-control and starvation, and it shouldn't be too centred about what shape you are unless you are trying to bring yourself within healthier parameters. 

Food should be fun, taste good and be enjoyable. There's nothing wrong with eating cake, strawberries and cream, chocolates, and all other sweet treats as long as they are in moderation within a balanced diet. I adore food, I adore cooking, I love eating a range of foods, trying new foods to experience new tastes, always altering how I make familiar recipes to explore the variations etc. Food should be fun, enriching and enjoyable, and should never, ever, be seen as the enemy. I don't think too much processed foods and fast food is healthy, and too many sweet treats these days are very processed indeed. Fresh grapes, for example, can be really sweet, and not at all processed!  A home-baked cake is going to use ordinary flour, milk, eggs, etc. and you can control exactly how much sugar you use and what kind, how much salt etc. and still have a delicious, moist, sweet, wonderful cake at the end. I don't deliberately pick what I eat around staying slender; I pick what I eat around what is delicious and varied - staying slender is a 'byproduct' of that. 

Drat, now I want un gateau au chocolat but I've caught a cold and am supposed to be resting, not baking. 

Food and exercise are not some equation where you have to constantly think about balancing the two and making sure you do enough exercise to counterbalance what you ate, they are both meant to be fun. I do sport not to stay thin, but because I find sports a lot of fun. Roller derby is brilliant fun, martial arts are challenging mentally as well as physically, as is fencing, archery is an exercise in focus, hiking, rambling and climbing let me access vast tracts of glorious mountainous Scotland, industrial dancing is both art and fitness etc, etc. I do exercise in order to improve my sports performance, I am active by nature and always on my feet. None of these things are a concerted effort to become slender, being slender is a natural byproduct of having fun doing the things I enjoy. 

Be happy and healthy, and beauty will come naturally. 


  1. Good post. Quite frankly, I think you've covered the most important aspects of maintaining a healthy body--nutritious food and a descent amount of exercise. I would also add a good amount of sleep to your recommendations. When a person lives a healthy lifestyle and keeps unhealthy choices within moderation, his or her body will generally look and function as it should regardless of size and shape.

  2. Great article HouseCat. Nobody can resist cake and ice cream, so that what they should have for every once in a while. Dieting is not good everyone neither it's healthy. All we do is eat right and keep up with exercising.

    1. I think there's a place for dieting if you're significantly overweight, but it's not a long-term solution and often become cyclical in terms of weight loss and weight gain.

  3. Agreed. Just like Nightwind, I would also add sleep. Something I've been lacking for a while due to hormonal dis-balance. :(

    Exercising is always awesome for anyone and everyone regardless of body shape (as you mention on your Goths, Depression and Assumptions article) as it raises dopamine levels.

    1. Exercise is fun, has been proven to help with depression, and is, in moderation, almost universally good for you. Over-exercising can lead to injury, etc.

    2. Exercise is fun, has been proven to help with depression, and is, in moderation, almost universally good for you. Over-exercising can lead to injury, etc.

  4. I think you make an excellent point about Adora. I thought the same thing too. She mentions about being thin and her diet method, but doesn't give us much info. I thought she had an eating disorder when I first found her site

    1. From having seen what she eats, as she regularly posts her meals, I don't think she has an eating disorder, but I think her modelling career does make her a bit pre-occcupied about staying slender. She is certainly from a rather slender family anyway. I also thought she might have an eating disorder initially, but on reading more of her blog, I don't think she does. Yes, her diet seems quite strict, and she is certainly quite skinny, but I don't think that her attitude to food and weight have become as distorted as to be eating disorder territory.


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