Sunday, April 26, 2009

A thought on Body Image

What does it mean to be fat?

Not really, really skinny, I think.

Here's the thing. Often, and for a long time (at least the past 20 years) I will see a morbidly obese person, usually a woman wearing stretchy things through which I can see layers of cellulite, and think, "Oh, poor her." And why do I feel sorry for her? Because I think I look like that.

I do not.

Look like that, I mean. But I do think it. I think it when I try on clothes in a cheap-clothes-buying place (where the light is never, never friendly). But I can buy pants in any regular store that carries low-double-digit sizes. I think it in the winter, when my arms feel saggy and are white (because everyone knows that brown fat is prettier than white fat), but I can still wear normal button-down shirts. I think it because in my head, even when I'm a very average 5'6" size 8-10-12. I am a victim of my own misconceptions.

I wonder how to change that. If it's in my head, nobody can change it for me. It does help me to be incredibly bold (rude) and ask people what size their pants are. Because other women my size(s) look beautiful. Here, evil Becca returns to remind me that they are easily 5 inches taller than me, and that those 5 inches make all the difference. I tell evil Becca she's right, but I should tell her to shut up.

It also helps me to move more. Duh. Derr. Doy. But it is funny how "serious exercise" falls off the top 5 list of priorities when it's snowing at the end of April. But the fact is that moving (outside) changes the way I feel about looking like this. I may not look any different, but my brain is more okay with it.

Am I the only one who has a backward self-view? I know a few men (my darling brothers, at least) who think they're pretty hot. I'm not saying they're not, mind you, I'm just saying... why doesn't my skewed self-view point in that direction? Why can't I think I'm more beautiful than I am, instead of less? Cerebrally (is that a word?) I love my body. I have strong, strong legs. I carried 4 babies full term and then some. I walk up and down stairs instead of taking elevators. I am almost always illness-free. I appreciate my body. Why can't I love how it looks?

Is there a filter I can buy? I already have a magic mirror (tilted to a believable but favorable angle) that gives the best reflection I can reasonably expect, but when I use my real eyes to look at my real lower body, I'm seeing what's actually there, and it always makes me cringe. And I understand geometry, and I understand that looking down causes unhappy foreshortening. But I want the filter for my brain. I want to believe that I am better than okay.

Takes practice, I think.

1 comment:

  1. Have you noticed, though, that in literature and media often fat people are portrayed as happy and skinny ones are mean and scary? Think Santa Claus (happy and big) versus Jack Frost (sinister and sharp). Or the plump aunt who squeezes your cheeks versus (skinny) prickly Aunt Petunia...The makes us happy?!


If you want to say it, I want to hear it. Bring it on.