in my body image work, i feel that there are so few moments when things just click. it’s generally just a string of fucking hard experiences, thoughts, confusions, and the like. i’m not complaining – i think the hard stuff is where the good stuff is, so bring it. however, when those flashes of OHMYGODTHISMAKESSOMUCHSENSEIAMAGENIUS come around? yes please. I had quite the a-ha (TM Oprah) moment during therapy before I moved down to CA. i wish i could remember the backstory so i could paint this whole dramatic arc, but alas, i only remember the actual deep thought and it is this: eating has become a very political/social statement for me. i certainly would have agreed with that back when i was living at home and dad asked me if i really wanted the second bowl of cereal. fuck you i want the second bowl of cereal. and then a third. so there!
but this is different.
i shall illustrate with an example. This is embarrassing to say, but one of the reasons i wish I was thinner is because I want to wear J. Crew clothes. they. are. just. adorable. They’ve especially upped the awesome factor in the last few years. So, I want to lose weight so I can fit into their adorable yet quirky yet sophisticated clothes. However! My brain immediately says this: “but then they win.” Win what, exactly? They win the social and cultural war that dictates how women should look, and i’m so not ok with that. if *I* change my body to fit their mold, then it follows, in my head, that I have somehow ignored who i really am and instead just molded myself to what others say is socially appropriate. and MY ENTIRE purpose (well, most of the purpose) of diving into this body image work is to say eff you to what is socially appropriate and dare to be happy just the way I am (christ, that is cheesy).
so, back from the example for a second. In describing myself, i would put empathetic right near the top of the list. the work (career-wise) that i do, the issues that get me all fired up, they all have a common theme – I find meaning in fighting for and alongside those of us who have been historically marginalized. I side with the outsiders. I want to fight for them by changing the structures that oppress them. ERGO, if I were to lose weight and therefore fit into J Crew clothes? I would NOT be changing the structure that oppresses me, but instead I would be fitting into the framework that has been proscribed for the appropriate body type. So i eat. I eat to say fuck you, J Crew and Banana Republic and Anthropologie and every other store that I go into with friends and am relegated to the shoes/handbags/jewelry/occasional cardigan that may fit sections. Yes, I’m angry about it, and yes, I may come off as a victim, but that’s because I am angry and I am a victim of what other people (and I, let’s be honest) have decided is physically attractive.
My job now is to figure out how to hold on fiercely to both – to appreciate and love myself now while also putting myself back on a path to get healthier and lose weight so I can (a) feel good and (b) wear cute J Crew clothes (i fully get that there are other, non-J crew clothes that are out there, but that’s for another post). Most importantly, I have to not beat myself up for wanting the cute clothes…I have not and will not ever lose my empathetic nature. It’s who I am and it’s who I will always be, whether I’m fat or straight-sized or skinny.