*Not fishing for compliments. Not asking for validation. Just writing, processing, finding truth. My truth. Like my friend Alison says here: “Just because someone else has it harder than you, or are in a worse situation, does not make your own any less important. It is YOUR truth, YOUR reality. It matters to you. There is no corner on the market for feeling miserable or sad.”*
Just Write is an exercise in free writing, so if this seems disjointed, blame it on stream of consciousness.
I am naked, looking in the full length mirror and I am unhappy with what I see. I know it sounds ridiculous coming from a 40 year old woman but it’s unfair. I know I’m attractive. I don’t always feel it, but I know it, deep down inside. My protestations feel forced, but they’re real. It ebbs and flows, this feeling of disgust versus this feeling of I Look Pretty Good. Usually I’m confident, but there are times, there are days, when no one should bear looking at me. I feel laughable. Waifish. Ridiculous. Luckily those days are few, but when they happen, they are relentlessly debilitating. Every giggle I overhear is at me. Every look is one of disgust. Why aren’t people throwing rotten fruit? Because I am hideous.
And then I’m beautiful.
This is not a pity party. I am relatively healthy, of sound mind albeit occasionally debatable. I love myself, I do. I practice self worth in front of my girls, never complain about my [under]weight. I am happy and free and in love with my body in front of them. Oh, I can give the performance you’ve never imagined. But inside my head? Ugly. Skinny. Tittyless. Meatless. You’re always cold because you don’t have enough meat on your bones. No one wants you. Your husband is pretending. Your girls are destined to follow the skinny path. Make them some potatoes.
And then sometimes? Sometimes I get tired of hearing about someone’s tiresome battle at losing weight. My struggle is real too.
Not as real as hers. You’re a triple minority, idiot. No one cares about your battle. You’re bitching about being skinny. Seriously? There are so many other people in the world in genuine need of help with their weight but you are complaining about being underweight. Do you know how many people would love to trade places with you?
Ah, but that’s not really true. They just think they would. The whole grass is greener, titties are bigger phenomenon.
When we first started dating I wore three pairs of pants to try giving the illusion of being thicker. That pretty much only wound up with all of the vaginal itching. Once, in a secluded corner of a movie theatre with no other viewers, we attempted clandestine sex. But I had on too many pairs of pants.
I’m not as skinny as I was in high school. Oh, early 90s. You so crazy.
I was called names. I was teased. By the time I was a senior though, I stopped caring because I had a boyfriend and other boys interested in me (unlike that first idiot my freshman year who asked on the phone, before we’d met (we were being set up by a mutual friend because she thought we’d be compatible), if I could see my feet). I distinctly remember wondering why he thought I was an amputee. WHO IS SPREADING LIES ABOUT MY LIMBS? Of course I can see my feet. And then…oh.
It is hard to leave home without a padded bra. The only bras I own are padded. They increase cup size two sizes! In one, I’m probably still an A cup. This summer, though? I wore this dress and I felt wonderful.
It was just me as me. Breastless. I have less breast than my 12-year-old.
Friends who have always been amply bosomed respond as one would expect them to: if I had as little breast as you I’d never wear a bra. And my response, always, is if I had as much as you I’d be in sheer shirts. Everywhere. Church would get tricky.
This bitch. Why is she in this exercise class? I hate skinny broads who try to fake like they need to exercise.
I always wondered when would I get over it? When would I realize it is just me? Acceptance is hard. I know I should love myself, accept myself. I do. Sometimes. And I have girls to raise, to teach about body image and body consciousness and about loving oneself. But oh, how I cry at the thought of either of them being too thin, of either of them going down the road I started on, where I began to develop and then it just. Stopped. Oh, Zoe. Please don’t be like me. It hurts. It physically hurts to think that she will endure what I did. But no. I will have armed her, prepared her, taught her to understand that she is more than breasts or a number on a scale.
Bullshit. You won’t even let them see you naked. Liar. You still look at that number and calculate how much your clothes weigh because just stay over 100.
It was a coup when I broke 100 and maintained it. The year that my thighs touched was one of my happiest.
And the boy. I have to teach him too, right? How to value a woman regardless of her weight, how to fall in love with a person, not a person’s size.
I’ve seen doctors, nutritionists. I eat. I eat well. I eat the right things in large amounts. Sure, sometimes I snack all day rather than eat a full meal until dinner, but that’s not typical. It feels wrong to complain, to suggest that the way I feel about wanting to gain weight compares to the plight of a woman trying to lose or maintain her weight. And yet, don’t I deserve to profess the feelings I have? Don’t I get to be upset about sagging skin on a smaller body? Don’t I get to lament the same issue, albeit at the other end of the spectrum? Why do overweight women get to complain and talk about the lengths they’re going to, the steps they’re taking, the hate of their bodies, or even the acceptance, and I’m left staring at my reflection wishing someone would acknowledge that I too deserve to cry?
Your feelings don’t compare. Stop crying, stupid; put on some clothes and walk away. And then eat something.
I have as much breast now as I did in 7th grade, perhaps less after breastfeeding three babies. I am 5’5 ½”, weigh 108 pounds, I wear a size 2 (sometimes 4 to which I say HOT DAMN) in clothes and a 32 -AAAA in bras. I am 40 years old (as of last Thursday. Cue the confetti). I have tried virtually everything to gain weight. In junior high I found an advertisement in the back of a magazine for breast enhancement cream for $19.95 + shipping and handling. I saved every dollar my great-grandfather gave me for typing his grocery list on Saturday mornings until I had enough to place the order. For five weeks I waited and finally it arrived.
It smelled like teenage boy feet that had been marinated in garbage. It looked like bad tapioca pudding, but thicker. And I smeared that salve on my chest faithfully until I could get no more out (no more out with the q-tip I’d been using since a week before when it was pretty much all gone, that is). I smiled at the prospect of breasts. Real breasts. In the end, I got nothing but a rash.
It’s over 20 years later and I am still that 7th grader, still frowning at my reflection. I’ve been avoiding the mirror when I enter and exit the shower. If I happen to catch a glimpse of myself I turn my head quickly. I don’t want to see me, don’t want to dwell on what I feel is a shortcoming. I want to see a robust, healthy me (because I am technically unhealthy, not even plotting on the BMI worksheet the doctor pulls out every time I visit). I feel like I could easily break. Brittle. Too thin. Put me in the China cabinet so I’m not roughly handled. Look at my clavicle. It protrudes. I hate it. Spaghetti arms in spaghetti strap shirts and dresses.
It’s all in your mind. No one sees what you see.
Shut up. Everyone sees. Everyone mocks. I am unwanted and useless. I would never make it as a stripper. My breasts sag and I don’t even have a handful. After I eat, I look four months pregnant. EVERY TIME. You think you get asked if you’re pregnant? Try being this thin with a protruding stomach. You can’t find your size in the store? Guess what — ME EITHER.
It’s not as though I cannot gain weight or my breasts cannot grow. They’ve proven they’re perfectly able to do so during pregnancy and breastfeeding. My husband has refused to allow me to remain perpetually pregnant as any future children will surely be sleeping in shoe boxes. I have pictures to remind me of the plentifulness that was being chesty while nursing, but I want the bigger bra regularly, the push up bra that announces Cleavage! Over Here! I want to feel like a woman. I feel like a prepubescent girl.
Don’t call me Slim Goody. Or Skinny Mini. I have been asked if I’m anorexic. I’m not. I’ve been asked if I’m bulimic. I am not. Tapeworm? Are you high?
Are you pretending? Because when you dress up you seem to think you’re gorgeous. You like the looks. I seem to recall you like everyone on your high school page to know that you aren’t as fat as they. Oh, you don’t say it out loud but you think it. And then you feel badly. But then you’re still happy to not be them, to not be overweight. But then you complain about being too skinny. WHICH ONE IS IT YOU FUCKING LYING HYPOCRITE?
There will always be someone who wants something you have, something you’d gladly give up for that person doesn’t know the trouble that accompanies that thing. For me, it’s breasts and a fuller figure. I’d still really like both.
They’d look good on me.