Monday, October 17, 2005

I've Had It!

Yes, after I left here on Saturday, I did the one thing guaranteed to kill my sunshiny buzz... I went to buy new jeans.

Now, when I'm feeling particularly gordita (I don't care what my Cuban friends say, it's not a compliment!) I buy specifically from The Gap because they have what I like to call "ego-massage sizing." Wherein an article of clothing that anywhere else would be a size 10 will have an ego-massaging tag that says "8." Whew, I'm still in the single digits, I can tell myself. I can't be THAT huge. Not to mention their stretchy denim which does all that sucking in at the belly area so I don't have to actually do it myself. They've gotten even more liberal with their sizing, clearly, because a pair of "8" pants I bought there several years ago don't fit me anymore. In fact, I sat down in them at home and the zipper just said, "Oh, no you don't" and completely gave up the ghost.

So I go into the fitting room with a couple of 10's and a couple of 12's. I like to try on the bigger size to reassure myself that I haven't gotten THAT big. Well, da pants don't lie. And the mirror tells the ugly truth. And the 12's won. I stood in the fitting room gazing into that demoralizing mirror and all I saw was the roll of flesh bulging over the top of the jeans. My lord, where did that come from? I always prided myself on my small waist, even when I was a few pounds over fighting weight. I was always curvy. Bodacious. Ample. Never fat.

Well. Like I said. The mirror doesn't lie. I am fat.

I met my friend H for brunch on Sunday, dutifully walking from 14th Street to 4th -- not because it was a nice day for walking, but because I need the exercise. The mirror does not lie, I told myself as I jiggled and bounced down Third Avenue, practicing holding my stomach in as I did it. I'm sure I had a constipated look on my face because of it. But those 10 blocks allowed me to decide a few things for myself.

I don't want to be average by American standards. Take a walk with me through any concourse at O'Hare Airport -- I would be one of the slimmer women you'd see. But I'm sorry, average in America now means 25 pounds overweight!

My goal is to be average by regular standards. I don't think that's an unreasonable goal. Not necessarily the lollipop-headed size 4 I used to be (which apparently is "average by New York standards), but a nice, average, fit and healthy size 8 or 10. A real size 8 or 10. Not "Gap-sized." I'm of a certain age, I can accept having a little tummy and maybe a couple of pooches of cellulite on the back of my thighs. But when I run across the street to make a light and I feel stuff moving independently of the rest of my body, and coming to a stop after I do, I am absolutely horrified with myself.

I can hear my mother's voice walking up the stairs behind me, "My goodness, a young girl like you shouldn't have such a big bucket." This from a woman who stood all of 5'2" and never topped 115 pounds in her life.

Aggh. I'm a walking cliche, still listening to my mother at my age! Or at least to my mother as she was when I was 13. See, my mother was beautiful like a movie star. When you see photos of her in her mid-twenties, holding her 4th baby in her arms, you gasp at how stunning she was. Apparently, she was legendary on her island, for her beauty, for her brilliance, (and for the fact that she escaped). Imagine being the plump, plainish, not the smart one, takes after the Hunkie side of the family daughter of such a paragon.

(I guess that's why I became funny. Seriously, I'm the funniest person I know. I crack myself and my friends up on a regular basis. My brothers and sisters think I am a hoot. But goddammit, I'll never be the pretty one. I don't know why that still bothers me, but sometimes, it does.)

Crap. Crap. Crap.

Bitched about it to G today when he complimented me on my new jeans. Oh, no, I couldn't just accept the compliment. I had to bitch about being fat. He gave me that eye-roll thing and said, "I don't know why you let it bother you so much."

Ladies and gentlemen, I am going to tell you the words that actually left my lips. Only partially in jest. But there is real tragedy in them. Not the words themselves, but in the LIES I have internalized so deeply that I find myself surprised that I still believe them. Here goes:

"Well, if I'm fat, it means I'm not a good person, right?"


Who the HELL said that? I still can't believe it fell off the velcro wall that is my mind (which must be differentiated from my brain, apparently) and tumbled down the chute and out of my mouth.

I need to go and sit with this one. Right now I'm more fascinated than anything about where that came from.


At 10/17/2005 9:27 PM, Blogger cyprus said...

I don't have any issue with how you choose to show yourself to the world (through your body). But you would never say the mean horrible things you say to yourself, to someone else. I believe we recently had that very conversation. So what benefit do you get from beating your self up so unmercifully???

If fat people are really bad, I wouldn't have so many wonderful friends in my life, like you. I would be a mean, rotten, evil son-of-a-bitch. I would be a troll under a bridge. I have my bad moments, but I am far from a bad person. And I am pretty sure you and most people who know me would agree.

So you either believe that you are "bad" because you got a little chubbier (which by extension makes me down right evil, and we both know that isn't true.) Or you are just using whatever is at your disposal to rip yourself to shreds.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to feel healthy, but remember: it was your fucked up hatred for yourself that probably added the tummy.

Your body is exactly what your soul considers beautiful, without exception. I am sure your soul is not wrong.

From the kind and good fat person downstairs.

At 10/18/2005 11:28 AM, Blogger Jane Doe said...

Thanks for being a perceptive friend and a kind human.

You can know something empirically and still not believe it...I can know that there is no moral judgement attached to my weight and still go on to beat myself for it. Because my conditioning is that strong.

I believe I am "bad," not because I am bad, but because I am conditioned.

Just because I don't like something doesn't mean it is bad. It just means I don't like it.

(ref: Cheri Huber, There is Nothing Wrong With You)

Perhaps right now it is particularly strong because as my mother slowly loses her mind to Alzheimers, a tiny little part of me has been re-awakened who wants her to still be the Mom I knew as a child -- sharp and judgemental at times but still mostly caring and maternal. Right now, she's none of the above, with the exception of occasionally ornery and mulish as a child. The me who knew my mom when she was all there was also the chubby girl whose mother judged her for being overweight.

Love isn't blind. It pretends not to notice.

When the voice of self-hatred starts to chime in on my life -- generally at times of stress and change -- I've learned to take it as one of those signals to myself to start examining my belief systems again. The minute I said "It means I'm a bad person," a light bulb went off over my head and I said, "Hm. Let me examine that and see what is behind it."

So, I need to be reminded sometimes that practice of conscious, compassionate awareness starts with the knowledge that I am worthy of that as well.


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