Thursday, June 27, 2013

The F Word

Ian and I hosted a housewarming at our new condo on Saturday. Expecting upwards of 25 people to attend, I decided to buy two dozen Do-Rite Donuts for a fun, local dessert. This turned out to be a GROSS OVERESTIMATE because my dear friends ate only 17 of the 24. So, left to my own devices, I ate four old-fashioned donuts in 36 hours over the weekend. Maybe it was five. Whatever. I just know that by Sunday evening I was wearing my stretchy pajama pants because I felt bloated and fat.

But, if I’m honest with myself, I’ve felt fat since 3rd grade.

I had a chubby little tummy by the time I was 8, which is when I started to revere thinness. I bragged to my parents about my meager accomplishments on our now-dusty treadmill; I squealed with glee in the dressing room of Abercombie & Fitch when, once during junior high, I fit into a size 8 pair of green cargo pants; and I hugged my high school boyfriend when, after a day of “feeling fat”, he put one hand on my back and one of my stomach to physically show me that I wasn’t. As a dutiful, nice American girl, I grew up fearing the power of the F word: you could call me stupid, you could call me a bitch, but whatever you do, please don’t ever call me fat.

Nothing has changed. I’m a 28 year old woman, but I’m still a nice American girl, and if someone called me fat tomorrow, I might curl up in my bed and cry.

The mirror has always been my biggest critic. In high school, I didn’t think I was thin (I weighed 145 pounds); Freshman year of college I didn’t think I was thin (I weighed 170 pounds); After two semesters in Europe, I didn’t think I was thin (I weighed 150 pounds); A year and a half ago in Indiana, I didn’t think I was thin (I weighed 180 pounds); today, I don’t think I’m thin (I weigh 161 pounds).

These days, I could not imagine feeling thin enough until I weigh less than 150 pounds, or at least until I could comfortably zip up the pair of pants I bought in London. But then I must remind myself that I did once make those benchmarks, and I still felt fat.

One day, upon pondering this absurdity, I decided to focus on the deluge of Skinny that usually blends into the white noise of everyday life. For a few hours, I counted the number of Skinnygirl and Special K commericals on Bravo; I studied the Hydroxycut ads in Ok! Magazine; I tuned into the bikini body and baby weight articles online; and I listened to Jennifer Hudson sing to me about "Feeling Good" on Weight Watchers. I even watched the oft-shared Dove Real Beauty Sketches commercial only to hear: “She was thin so you could see her cheekbones. And her chin, it was a nice thin chin.” And “She looks closed off and fatter; sadder, too.”

Then, like slamming a book shut, I tuned it out. In the silence, I laughed a little at the ubiquity of the Thin = Better messages I’d just paid attention to. They were everywhere, obscene in their commonplaceness.

I finally realized that it’s not that I’ve never felt thin; it’s that I’ve never felt fully satisfied with myself. Ever since I became aware of an outside gaze, my body has been a work in progress. In other words, all the Biggest Losers and the Hydroxycuts and the Atkins diets - all of these images have been working in tandem to form a singular, powerful subliminal message that I, and everyone I know has always embraced:

That I am incomplete until I am thinner.

Fuck that.

1 comment:

Julie said...

Ugh. Weight. I also have fluctuating weight. I had someone once tell me, "I am not a skinny minnie it's just not who I am, and that's okay." (PS The person that told me this was a runner. She runs about 8 miles a day). I don't know why but it was an epiphany to me. I thought, "Hey, that's me. i am not huge but I am not exactly thin." In college I went through this very healthy active phase. I was working out twice a day and eating all things healthy, and even then I never made it lower than 125. (What I would give now for that weight). But my point is no matter what I do (well unless I had an extreme eating disorder, which I love food way too much) I will never be this tiny petite woman, even though I am only 5'2". Until I finally accepted that isn't who I am, it always bothered me.

Ha, I didn't realize I was writing a novel.

Thank you for the compliments on my blog, it made my day.