Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Fat Shame

I wasn't kind to myself.  I believed that I was grotesque, that I was less-than, that I didn't deserve the same treatment as a "skinny" person. 
I believed I was ugly.  I believed that it was impossible for the words "fat" and "pretty" to exist in the same sentence, unless that sentence declared that I was "pretty fat." 
I forced myself into too-tight clothes, feeling miserable and uncomfortable, and desperate to hang onto the notion that as long as I didn't go up a size in clothing, I could feel less ashamed. 
I cried and cried, and cried some more, as I went on believing that my husband would never love me, not fully, not really, unless I weighed a certain amount. 
My journals filled with hateful descriptions of my soft, round, wavy body. 

And I am sad for all that wasted time.  I was lovely.  I AM lovely. 
And I am fat. 

And I am no longer ashamed of the word, as if it were something to hide from. 

Now that I have a clear head, and a rational grasp of the matter, the subject of fat shame enrages me. 

How many times have we seen the former fat guy on TV, holding up a pair of his gigantic pants like some kind of trophy?  Stuffing two people into those pants, and declaring victory over his former chub, while someone else looks on in awe, gasping, as if they'd never laid eyes on a fat person before. 
How many times have we seen the woman standing next to a cardboard cut-out of her former round self, giggling with glee over the fact that she can "wear a bikini now!"?  (She could wear a fucking bikini before, but we'll get to that momentarily.) 
I'm happy for these people.  If they felt so miserable and unhealthy before, then good on them for doing what they needed to do for themselves, to feel better. 
But these stupid scenes do nothing but perpetuate the idea that it's shameful to be fat.  It's wrong to be fat.  It's bad to be fat, and being thin is better.  Those "before and after" pictures...the subject frowning in misery over their own fatness, and then, grinning with glee in their second, "after" picture.  It asks us to accept that one of those things is bad.  That one of those things is unfavorable. That one of those things is just downright shameful.

 What the hell is so wrong with someone being fat, and *still* loving themselves?  What is wrong with feeling confident, or, heaven forbid, even sexy within one's fat skin? 

Confidence?  How dare you, Fatso! 
Does this woman deserve our ridicule, our jokes at her expense?  Absolutely the fuck not.  No more than the black person or the gay person or the tall person or the person missing a finger deserve our ridicule. 

"But, being fat is a choice.  Those people should do something about their unhealthy habits, and then they wouldn't be so fat." 

Maybe.  Maybe it's a choice.  Maybe it's not.  Maybe they have some sort of metabolic disorder that causes their unacceptable condition, and they hate being fat just as much as *you* hate them being fat. 
Maybe they're gluttenous and lazy, and maybe they'd rather eat donuts for dinner than a salad.  Maybe it's been twenty years since they've bothered to take a walk or touch their toes. 
But either way, isn't that *their* business?  Don't they have the *right* to choose fucking donuts over a salad?  Don't they have the right to decide not to take a jog? 

And while we're at it, they have the right to wear a bikini.  In public.  They have the right to dress themselves any damn way they please, and to not have some dirt bag boost his or her ego by making fun of them. 
Truly, that's all it amounts to.  By shaming someone else, by belittling someone else, a person is merely demonstrating their own insecurity, their own foolishness.  A person gains nothing by bashing someone else.  But the person receiving the bashing loses lots...

I grew up being ridiculed for my "fatness."  I was a size ten in 8th grade, and evidently that humiliated my mother enough to nickname me "Fatty Arbuckle", "Two Ton Tilly", and "Thunder Thighs", to name a few.  As a size 12 to 14 in high school, I believed I was sub-par.  I believed I was grotesque.  I believed that because I didn't look like the cheerleading squad, that I was less, and that I deserved less.  I thought my mother was right, and for being "fat", I was very, very wrong. 

I wasn't wrong.  The woman in the picture up there isn't wrong.  Not in the least. 

My diet, not that it's anyone's business but mine, consists mostly of food that comes solely from nature.  Whole food.  Good food.  But I have the same right to a donut, or four, that a thin person has.  If I choose to take a walk or a jog at the park next door, or if I choose to sit literally for hours in front of my TV watching a cooking show, it's my right to do either, and it's not the business of anyone who would shame me for it. 
The argument the fat-hate bullies like to make (to look like less of an asshole) is that it's "unhealthy" for the fat person.  They're worried about their health. 
Well, good.  Then pay for their membership to the gym of your choice, and go start making fun of smokers in the same manner, as their behavior is obviously unhealthy, too.  If they are genuinely speaking out of concern, there would be *action* and not hurtful, ugly words. 

The bottom line is, I'm fat.  I'm not ashamed of that word, and I'm not ashamed of my body.  Of course, I have "bad" days, just like anyone else, and wish I were smaller/taller/thinner/perkier...but I know that I am just as lovely as my thin sisters.  I am just as worthy.  I am just as important, or unimportant as the person who eats lettuce all day. 
My fat does not define my personality, any more than the tall guy is automatically a douche bag because he's tall. 

So in the words of bat-shit Tyra Banks, if you don't like it, you can "kiss my fat ass." 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Nervous jibberish

My heart might literally burst out of my chest. 
The phone will ring, and it will be terrible news...
Someone will come to the uncle is outside in the field.  He might come to the door...
Breathing fast enough to make myself dizzy.
I think I'm having a heart attack.  I'm probably having a heart attack.  Chest pains.
I might faint. 
My heart might explode. 
I might die. 

I won't die.  I know this.  I'm not having a heart attack, and I'm not going to faint.  As abnormal as this is, this is normal. 
I know this.  Rationally, I know this. 

But in the midst of it, I know that something terrible will happen.  Someone will come to the door, and catch me...catch me what?  There's nothing illegal, or immoral, or humiliating happening inside my house.  I don't even have any dirty dishes in my sink.  What am I afraid they will see? 

I have no rational explanation.  I have no reason to be afraid, and yet I am.  Beyond afraid.  Terrified.  And I have no rational explanation.  My heart bumps rapidly as if I've just seen something frightening.  My hands are weak with tremble and fear.  My mouth is dry, and my chest aches. 

Over nothing. 
It's helpless.  And embarrassing. 

I am a woman, entirely in control of the demons in my past.  Fully aware that I have fought, and won.  That I do not exist within the grips of some emotional torment, struggling to continue despite every effort to stop me.  I won.   I am well.  I am whole. 

Until this.  It has the ability to knock me literally from my feet, and make me, for a few brief minutes of hell, question my entire being. 

Then, quick as it came, it's gone. 

Fucking panic attacks. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Here comes the bride. Again.

Since my grandmother was diagnosed with cancer, a temporary "truce" has settled between my mother and myself.  Maybe not so much a "truce" as it is me not ignoring her completely.  She'll attest to the fact that I give an impeccable performance of the silent treatment. 
And I was happy to do so, because I didn't feel she deserved my acknowledgment.  She'd hurt me in a thousand ways, and depriving her of my attention was the kindest thing I could think to do to her to hurt her in return.  It worked.  We existed, absent of one another.  Happily, on my end. 
But the fact is, someone I love now has an imminent expiration date, and I don't care to hurt her with the coldness between my mother and myself. 
So I am personable.  I am pleasant, sort of, and instead of spitting my interpretation of "the truth" at her like venom, I now make an effort to soften what I have to say. 
It's uncomfortable.  But I love my grandmother.  And for her, I can be civil to my mother. 

My mother. 
If there were a broke, trailer-park version of Elizabeth Taylor,  it would be her.  With a lust for the most flashy and expensive things, while only being able to afford an occasional Wal-Mart knock-off. 
And an apparent wedding ring hording issue...

My father was the first one she married.  They went their separate ways before I was old enough to remember anything, and for the longest time, I didn't even know he was my biological father.  She didn't want me to know.  I remember him as being a man that I visited a couple of times a year, who let me pick the seeds out of his pot stash. 

And then my second father.  She led me to believe that he was my "dad."  I don't remember the precise moment I found out the truth.  I can, however, remember very vividly the day that he told me the truth from his own lips.  We were swimming, and I said "hey, Daddy, watch this!"  He froze, as if he was suddenly remembering for the first time himself.  "You know I'm not your real dad, don't you?"  I knew.  But it was alarming to hear him say so. 

Number three was sort of an arrogant bastard, and the one I think most suited my mother.  He liked to be called "The King Daddy."  He wasn't.  He was an emotionally cold, and ego-centric asshole, and his brother was the creature who preyed upon me when the sun went down.  I think he might have stayed with my mother forever, were it not for the fact that she began an affair with number four. 

Number four...possibly even more convinced of his own importance than his predecessor, and possibly the most unusual man I have ever met.  He and my mother separated within a few years, however their divorce drug out for a decade, in what looked like a pitiful attempt to hold on to one another, without being obvious. 

There was also an engagement, one hundred years ago or more, to a man before my biological father. 
I don't know anything about him, except for his name. 

It seems apparent that my mother is either very bad at marriage, or very fond of wedding cake. 
(Not that I fault her for loving cake.  I love cake.  But when I have a hankering, I run to the store, not to the altar.)

Today's news shouldn't surprise me, really. 

"I'm getting married tomorrow." 

I literally had nothing to say, tho I might have a bruise on my chin from my jaw hitting the floor. 
Because I said nothing to say, she began explaining her reasoning behind her new nuptials.  There were insurance reasons, military benefits, medical reasons...but never, "I love him." 
Never, "we love each other."  No mention of love, whatsoever. 
Finally, I said to her, "this isn't my decision.  You don't have to keep trying to justify it to me.  If you think you're doing the right thing, then that's what you should do.  At the end of the day, it has nothing to do with me." 

Which is true. 
And I don't know why it's so hard for me to accept that. 
She could shave her head and join a cult, and it would have nothing to do with me.  It would have no affect on my day to day life. 
So why do I care?  I'm not fond of the man, it's true.  But I am not the one who has to sleep with him.  It doesn't affect me. 
I'm cringing at all the jokes that I know are coming. 
I'm embarrassed.  About what, I'm not sure.  As I said before, I'm fully aware that this has nothing to do with me.  Being embarrassed about it seems a little egocentric on my part. 

Part of me wonders if this absurdity isn't lurking inside of me somewhere, buried in my DNA, and waiting to leap out of me at an unexpected moment, destroying my marriage, and forcing me to begin hording wedding dresses. 
Silly, really.  My first and only marriage has probably lasted longer than all of hers put together.  But every time there is a bump in the road, I wonder, is this the day my maternal genes ooze to the surface, and ruin everything? 

My marriage has nothing to do with her.  Her past is not mine, and her future does not paint mine. 

But, fuck.  Five husbands?  Really?
How many weird step-dads do I need?