Friday is Canada Day (and a holiday!) so I took today off in order to have a lovely 4 day weekend. Sweeeeeeeeet.
After reading this transcript, I have many thoughts.
A few weeks ago, fairly spontaneously, I told Coffee that I was probably always going to be fat – which means he is probably always going to be married to a fat person.
We’ve been together for almost 15 years at this point, and obviously he has seen me naked, accompanied me while shopping in ‘plus size’ stores, knows my approximate clothing size, sleeps in the same bed as me, and has seen first-hand both how I normally eat (meals, snacks, random assertions that I need ice cream) and my attempts to lose weight (and the subsequent re-gaining of the weight) over the years.
In other words, my statement probably didn’t shock him.
And yet, for me, there was this enormous shift in my brain somehow because.. I have always believed that my fatness is temporary. And maybe it is, but I’m pretty sure I shouldn’t be counting on that.
In my head, it’s always just been a matter of time ’til I wake up and suddenly have the motivation, enthusiasm, willpower, strength, focus, and changed priorities, to lose 100 pounds (or whatever) and keep it all off forever. It’s just a matter of time until my metabolism changes, my PCOS disappears, and my genetics stop impacting me. Any day now, I’m going to enjoy counting calories and managing portions and buying the fat-free version of all the foods that I like to eat.
And so, in the meantime, I have walked around sucking in my stomach (because the 1/4 inch of difference it makes to my profile TOTALLY fakes everyone out!). I have avoided buying nice clothing because why spend the money on a large size if you’re just going to lose weight any minute now? I have chosen flattering over comfortable, because temporary discomfort isn’t a big deal – and it has seemed very important that no one really know that I’m fat in the meantime. I have worn clothing that was way too warm, all summer long, for exactly the same reason.
There are so many voices inside my head – my mother telling me that I would never marry a good man if I was fat and that being the ‘fat friend’ is the worst possible outcome in a friendship; my grandmother handing me a box of candy with a card attached on which she had drawn a fat version of me and a thin version of me for some (now-) inexplicable reason; something Coffee said to me before we started dating; all the fat jokes I’ve ever heard; all the nice things people said when I was thinner or lost weight (“Ohmygod, don’t EVER go back to being that fat again!”); comments friends have made about their own bodies… and more, so much more.
And those all echo around, still. They didn’t magically disappear and, I suspect, they never will. Do people take me less seriously because I’m fat? Would I somehow be better at my job if I was thinner? Would people like me more if I was smaller? If I give up on the idea that my fatness is temporary, will everyone else be dismayed?
For years I’ve lived as though my fatness was matter-of-fact (in public at least). I eat whatever I want, I don’t apologize for taking a second slice of cake if I want it, I don’t pretend that I’m going to join a gym soon, and I refuse to say disparaging things about my own body and weight. I have been okay with calling myself fat for a long time – in part, I think, because it’s supposed to be temporary.
But.. right now – here, now, in this moment – I’m fat. Okay. I can live with that, finally, I think. I might be fat forever. I might never lose a single pound and I might gain 10 pounds and, really, it’s okay.
I read an advice column recently where a woman was talking about how her husband wanted her to lose weight – a lot of it – because he didn’t find her attractive. And I started having this near-anxiety attack because that’s basically the warning my mother gave me, constantly, when I was growing up. But the person giving the advice said, in essence, “Tell your husband it’s time for him to either learn to appreciate your body as-is or it’s time for him to find someone else. It’s not up to you to change for him.” And honestly, this kind of fucking blew my mind.
Growing up, I was surrounded by people who felt it was a personal responsibility to be attractive for other people and not because they, themselves, wanted to lose weight or change their hair style or whatever. To make sure you looked good before you left the house, to make sure whatever you wore was flattering, to make sure you spent a lot of time and money on fixing the things about you that could be fixed with time and money AND feeling bad about everything else.
Apologizing. A lot.
I’ve spent years alternating between putting that energy in OR feeling bad about not doing it.
Then I started seeing things like this:
And I swear to god, the phrasing of that just hits every single button I’ve got.
The mental energy I have wasted – from the eating disorder that launched itself when I was 12, to the apologies I’ve made for basically existing as an imperfect human being, to the discomfort of trying to arrange my physical presence rather than my environment.
Where the hell were advertisements/videos like this when I was 20? Why wasn’t there someone out there to tell me that “my size isn’t an indicator of my worth”?
I have so many other thoughts – I could probably go on and on for endless screens. But.. now it’s time for this fat person to go eat brunch. As humans do.
For Teresa, here’s a photo!