Wednesday, June 15, 2011

my honest thoughts on being skinny

I've got a confession: I still buy and read Glamour if I feel any affinity to the lady on the cover when passing by in the grocery check-out line. I don't know any other woman in my life that still buys any magazines like it. Whatever. I love the pictures and the colors and its glossy play on a pretty life, what life could look like. If I was richer, skinnier, and had a smaller nose.

While I wish I'd turn to Time, or even Newsweek, the truth is that in my precious moments of alone time, I usually don't. Which is fine because although it's true that the media shapes how we feel about ourselves and what we think we should look like from our earliest pony-tailed, sticky-fingered memories, it's also kind of tells me "Fuck YEAH, you are powerful. This is right within your reach." And sometimes, feeling powerful and seeing the world as a place brimming with beauty is What. I. Need.

But the magazine thing is kind of problematic too, because, you see, I have a degree in women's studies. I am supposed to be a better feminist. I'm supposed to be leading the next women's movement into battle for reproductive rights, dealing a shattering blow to that ever-present glass ceiling, showing young girls that we can and SHOULD give those glossy beauty magazines the middle finger and CREATE a beautiful that is realistic and more importantly, truly who we are and what makes each of us feel beautiful. INDIVIDUALLY. No more boxes and unfair compartmentalizations 

Which I do make a conscious effort to do, most of the time.

And not to toot my own horn, but I'm kind of a babe, anyway. A curvy one, with brains, an unexplainable driving force toward politics and making the world less hateable and hate-filled, and a sometimes overbearing snark level. Usually,  I get quite a kick out of myself.

But truth is that even the days when I feel most powerful and smart and able revolve around when I also feel like I look the part. And the part is flawless, and skinny.  Neither of which is realistically attainable for my body. Which never made me feel less beautiful before, well, now.

What's happened here? I am five foot nine inches tall. I wear a size eight. Sooooooometimes, on a reaaaaalllllllly skinny day, I'll slide into those size sixes and strut the SHIT out of it. Safely, size eight. I've been known to delve into double digits, too. You know, when need be. Winter blues and the like.

I am also easily the heaviest, tallest, BIGGEST person in my core group of girlfriends. And as much as I hate to admit it, it's REALLY been fucking with my self-image lately. You see, because there's nothing like a slim size-two putting herself down and making self-loathing comments about every pictures of herself, when you yourself are six sizes larger. 

You begin to wonder, "Does that mean that I'm fat?"

'No darling, you're lovely, look at that hair today, and your ass, work itttt!',  would be the healthy response. But lately, I've got nothing but negative for myself. 

I was the kid who spent more time in a revolving door-spin of doctors and 'tests' than middle school dances, as a result of not being able to put on any weight despite eating everything in sight, I know that skinny isn't something we always get to choose. But it is what we are told is ideal, healthy, even when it's not, so being stuck as a stick will probably get you fewer judgy stank-eyes than being stuck being heavy. That said, I know that side of the spectrum, and I'm not ragging on svelte ladies or voluptuous ladies or anyone in between. I'm ragging on bad feelings at EVERY size. And how I hardly ever meet another woman who feels "Just right" about their weight. Not that I'm taking a survey.

Now that I'm older, things have thankfully worked themselves out in the health and weight department,  and I'm curvy. I've got boobs and an ass. And although what we see may never tell us this, boobs and ass equal not being stick thin unless you're a freak of nature, are willing to alter yourself, or have just hit puberty. Which would be fine,  if all we're ever shown as perfect wasn't unattainable for most of us.

Up until now, I've always been the indulgent, completely fine with my body, confident girl that doesn't own a scale, dresses for myself, and gives a chagrined chuckle when someone snaps a picture that captures me with multiple chins. Because I've always known and just accepted that this is what I'm working with. That I'm more than a bad picture, or my thighs in that skirt, or those two extra pads of butter I throw on my mashed potatoes- and that I like the woman I am and the appearance of that person that is reflected outward, for the world to see.

Except lately, doubt has been creeping in, and I've grown paranoid, and critical.

Recently a friend of mine posted a picture of me on Fbook, which I looked at and actually cringed. My first thought was hand-to-Christ, "Ohmygod, is she mad at me?" My disappointment at the way I looked in that single picture has managed to tarnish my entire memory of the incredible amount of fun I had that night with my girlfriends.

Because I thought I looked fat. And because around them,  I already feel fat. Why am I so  negative? Where's that obnoxious self-confidence now?

I later mentioned it to her jokingly, something along the lines of, "You're a total dick for posting that picture.... etc." And you know what she said?

"REALLY? I love that picture of you! It was like I captured the entire night. You're laughing and sitting on the porch and just so relaxed, pretty."

So I looked back on that picture, searching for something I've somehow missed. And I still hate it. *&#*(*#$&(#$fuckinghateit.  And I can't for the life of me get the feeling from that night, at the moment of the snapshot, back.

 Man, this is bullshit.

I thought I'd made it safely and relatively unscathed past the point of constant self-scrutiny and self-hatred. But apparently, I've never been more wrong. Midtwenties angst or something has got a hold on me.

I used to trust that my body would just inherently know, send messages to my brain when I was tired or not eating right, or getting too heavy. I trusted this fact above everything, held it higher than those glossy photographs could ever hope to reach. In return, I've never said no to a dessert I wanted, been tempted to throw up anything I consciously put into my body, or weighed myself only to feel my stomach drop below the scale instantaneously. Instead, I've rocked high heels despite my already-ample height, wandered bikini-clad for miles down a busy beach-scape, and cheesed it for pictures without considering the chance of a double chin.

So why do I suddenly feel so fat?

I know that my body needs exercise and healthy foods instead of greasy breakfast croissants and sunscreen instead of nicotine. I'm happy to have discovered these facts and I'm happy to comply. Shouldn't I be just as apt to embrace my juicy curves and trade in my size-two aspirations?

So, I'm making a pledge. To myself. 

To stop seeing 'realistic' as a dirty word and a challenge. So stop being romanced by bright colors and glossy covers that will ultimately only leave me wanting. To listen to those who love me that tell me I look GREAT. To not lose an entire evening of perfect harmony with a group of people who surround and protect my heart because of one measly picture.  

I promise, self, that I'm going to stop trying to channel celeb bodies, even you Kim K!, when I'm sludging through my workouts, daily grind, and big nights out. Instead, I will start channeling myself again. 

The self that licks the brownie batter bowl and eats bell peppers sun-warmed right off the plant, and grins instead of smirks in those obligatory girl-group photos. 

Fat? Skinny!? 

What bullshit, nonsense, vague constructs. I'd rather be a warrior than a waif, any day. 

Xo Sara

1 comment:

  1. I used to be mega addicted to such magazines but I suddenly lost interest in them a few years back. Not sure what shifted, but I do think I recognized that they kind of made me feel bad about myself. Maybe not directly- but it was like, this constant reminder of all this stuff I should be doing to make myself look better. Buy this makeup, try that skin tip, blah blah blah. F that noise. My solution was to become addicted to celeb gossip magazines instead. Your solution of making a pledge to yourself is probably a better one, though :)