Monday, June 05, 2006

Part Two

Aw, see, you guys are being so nice and wonderful. And I totally, totally appreciate it. And I'm absolutely trying to be funny about the weight issue, and I'm trying to be open and talk about it. I'm not fishing for compliments, because- gah. No.

And... and... I have a friend who needed to hook a breathing apparatus up to a modified car battery-type thing to go to a baseball game this weekend, and while I would take away his pain in a heartbeat, or give him all my extra muscle tone and flesh if I could- I would be hard-pressed to trade my healthy, heavy body for one that just doesn't fucking work. I don't have his courage.

I appreciate the compliments about me being beautiful and gorgeous, and I know being "Rubenesque" (thank you Beki) has its value. (Incidentally, for those of you who only know me in cyberspace- I retouch every photo of myself that you see here. I use PhotoShop's cloning tool to make my hair block out my chins or move the edge of my arm over. This is me unretouched, below)

I can look in the mirror and objectively say- okay, I have pretty hair. The aqua colored contacts work for me, especially if I buy that nice teal t-shirt that will make them stand out more. I've never hated my nose, my ears. I have no disfiguring scars. I'm grateful my parents pushed orthodontics. My body deserves to be treated nicely with the manicures and pedicures and the occasional massage. If the photos bug me, I'll retouch them. End of problem.

Except that it isn't.

Lots of women who are smarter, funnier and better educated than I am have explored how fat is the final frontier of acceptable discrimination. I was watching a stand-up comic the other night who was talking about going to her class reunion, and how she hopes So-and-So-Queen-Bee-Mean-Girl got fat. In her bit, she describes how she got to the reunion and asks about So-and-So, and her former classmates gasp- "Did you know?!?! She DIED"- and the comedienne feigns horror, and in a faux-tearful voice, "Oh, no.. Do you know if- before she died- was she... fat?" Message: Getting fat is worse than being dead.

Of course, the point here is, in part, that significantly smaller people hate their bodies. I was sooo annoyed when other well-known bloggers and their reader/commenters were bitching about their weight and snarking about body image and kissing up to each other, but in all honestly- a part of me was annoyed because the people complaining were all significantly smaller than I am. Anorexic people hate their bodies; larger people hate their bodies. Almost no one is happy. The hate and discomfort is in no way correlates with one's actual measurements and appearance. The hate thrives in in every body type. Objectively, I know this. I know this on so many levels.

But- the mental picture I have of myself just doesn't match the size I am now. I just think of myself as the regular-sized girl I was in high school. (Kelly, right, is purty, no?)

It isn't about society's standards, or pleasing a partner, or gratitude for not needing a wheelchair, or appreciation for one's good features like nice hair and a pretty face. It's the mismatch- not looking like the person I envision myself to be- is fundamentally painful.

The trade-off is: What will I knock out of balance if I proactively try to change my size? Can I be thin again? Yes. Will I be mentally and spiritually whole as I try to shrink my size? Probably not, and when you've peered as closely over the brink as I was in 2001, you aren't eager to stride back to the edge.

How far would *you* go? What would you be willing to risk to look they way you want to?


Luke said...

Fred looks like he really wants out of that humiliating cat pouch. Either that or you're holding a cat treat just out of frame...

Chunky Photojournalist Barbie said...

Cat treat is being held just out of frame. :)

shannon said...

It's funny, I have this same sort of inner dialogue every year when it's time to pull out the shorts and the bathing suits.
"Look at the fat on my legs. Look at how my belly is soft and sort of pouchy right there. And look at the stretch marks."
I know I'm not overweight. The scale tells me I'm not overweight. Even when I gain a few pounds, like I have recently with the wonky hormones I've got right now, I'm not anywhere close to being overweight. It doesn't stop me from looking at myself and feeling like I am, though.
I'm not a dieter. Even when I was carrying 10 pounds of extra baby-having fat around, I'm not a dieter. And now, I have extra incentive to not be a dieter. Gaby.
I'm not willing to show her that we have to worry about the way we look. I'm willing to teach her to eat healthy and to enjoy life -- by eating what we want, in moderation -- but I'm not willing to starve myself or to teach her to starve herself in order to look the way "they" want us to look.
"They" are airbrushed, anyway.
I say (and I know, it's seems easier to say when you are wearing my jeans) that it's more important to be happy and to enjoy life than to worry about your weight. If you're healthy, eat what you (and I mean the collective you, not just you specifically) want, within moderation. Life is too, too short and so very precious...there's not enough time to worry about a few extra pounds.

cindy w said...

Oh lordy. Four years out from my gastric bypass surgery, I have more issues about the whole weight thing than I can possibly put into words. And I think the fact that I had the surgery answer the question of how far I would go.

(Although in my case, it was less about my body and more looking at my family history and being scared to death of diabetes and all kinds of other problems that I would've surely been facing in my early thirties if I didn't have the surgery.)

Anyway... um. Yeah. I don't think I'm much help on this one.

Lauren said...

You know what strikes me about this? I don't know a single woman without body issues. My boss, who at 5'10" is a twiggy size 4, has major body issues. She's always on some kind of wacky diet. So is the assistant down the hall with the concave midriff. It seems that no matter what our size, we're all looking for ways to improve our bodies. I've always been pretty comfortable with my body, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't delighted by how I looked after I recovered from a violent flu this winter and emerged from my house with a flat-as-a-board stomach. (Gah, that's so effed up, I can't believe I just admitted it out loud.) We judge ourselves by the prevailing aesthetic standards, and short of isolating oneself on a deserted island bereft of mirror and US Weeklies, I'm not sure there's any way around that reality. What I am sure of, though, is that a healthy body is something to celebrate. Always. At any size.