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Saturday, May 29, 2010

body image...

as women, i think we all have a negative body image every now and again.. if not all the time. i know men do as well.. as i have been through the "babe you do NOT need to lose weight" discussion with my boyfriend many times.. but i believe that women struggle with it more. it seems as though we all know that other people are probably feeling what we're feeling.. but i don't think we ever TRULY believe that anyone out there understands how lousy we feel about ourselves.
i had a woah.. that really hit home.. moment recently when i was reading a book that stephanie gave me called "good in bed" by jennifer weiner.:
it brought me to tears.. because i felt like i was feeling exactly what the main character was feeling as she read an article her ex-boyfriend wrote about her in a magazine (similar to cosmo, i imagne).. the article was entitled "loving a larger woman" i wanted to share it, since it really stuck with me.

I'll never forget the day I found out my girlfriend weighed more than I did.

She was out on a bike ride, and I was home watching football, leafing through the magazines on her coffee table, when I found her Weight Watchers folder-a palm-sized folio with notations for what she'd eaten, and when, and what she planned to eat next, and whether she'd been drinking her eight glasses of water a day. There was her name. Her identification number. And her weight, which I am too much of a gentleman to reveal here. Suffice it to say that the number shocked me.

I knew that C. was a big girl. Certainly bigger than any of the women I'd seen on TV, bouncing in bathing suits or drifting, reedlike, through sitcoms and medical dramas. Definitely bigger than any of the women I'd ever dated before.

I never thought of myself as a chubby chaser. But when I met C., I fell for her wit, her laugh, her sparkling eyes. Her body, I decided, was something I could learn to live with.

Her shoulders were as broad as mine, her hands were almost as big, and from her breasts to her belly, from her hips down the slope of her thighs, she was all sweet curves and warm welcome. Holding her felt like a safe haven. It felt like coming home.

But being out with her didn't feel nearly as comfortable. Maybe it was the way I'd absorbed society's expectations, its dictates of what men are supposed to want and how women are supposed to appear. More likely, it was the way she had. C. was a dedicated foot soldier in the body wars. At five foot ten inches, with a linebacker's build and a weight that would have put her right at home on a pro football team's roster, C. couldn't make herself invisible.
But I know that if it here possible, if all the slouching and slumping and shapeless black jumpers could have erased her from the physical world, she would have gone in an instant. She took no pleasure from the very things I loved, from her size, her amplitude, her luscious, zaftig heft.

As many times as I told her she was beautiful, I know that she never believed me. As many times as I said it didn't matter, I knew that to her it did. I was just one voice, and the world's voice was louder. I could feel her shame like a palpable thing, walking beside us on the street, crouched down between us in a movie theater, coiled up and waiting for someone to say what to her was the dirtiest word in the world: fat.

And I knew it wasn't paranoia. You hear, over and over, how fat is the last acceptable prejudice, that fat people are the only safe targets in our politically correct world. Date a queen-sized woman and you'll find out how true it is. You'll see the way people look at her, and look at you for being with her. You'll try to buy her lingerie for Valentine's Day and realize the sizes stop before she starts. Every time you go out to eat you'll watch her agonize, balancing what she wants against what she'll let herself have, what she'll let herself haev against what she'll be seen eating in public.

And what she'll let herself say.

I remember when the Monica Lewinsky story broke and C., a newspaper reporter, wrote a passionate defense of the White House intern who'd been betrayed by Linda Tripp in Washington, and betrayed even worse by her friends in Beverly Hills, who were busily selling their high-school memories of Monica to Inside Edition and People magazine. After her article was printed, C. got lots of hate mail, including one letter from a guy who began: "I can tell by what you wrote that you are overweight and that nobody loves you." And it was that letter-that word-that bothered her more than anything else anyone said. It seemed that if it were true-the "overweight" part-then the "nobody loves you" part would have to be true as well. As if being Lewinsky-esque was worse than being a betrayer, or even someone who was dumb. As if being fat were somehow a crime.

Loving a larger woman is an act of courage in this world, and maybe it's even an act of futility. Because, in loving C., I knew I was loving someone who didn't believe that she herself was worthy of anyone's love.

And now that it's over, I don't know where to direct my anger and my sorrow. At a world that made her feel the way she did about her body-no, herself-and whether she was desirable. At C., for not being strong enough to overcome what the world told her. Or at myself, for not loving C. enough to make her believe in herself.

i, like the main character in the book ("C."), cried for a while after reading this. and i wasn't sure whether i was angry or sad.. or both. probably both. because it is a struggle, living every day hating the body you have.. and i suppose we tend to point fingers at ourselves more than everyone else.. but it's a group effort that makes us feel the way we do. yes, i know i can do something about it.. but saying and doing are two very different things. i won't tell you what happens in the book, just in case you want to read it.. but it's a pretty life-affirming story, and i truly enjoyed it.

on that note.. i started a 4 week boot camp yesterday.. something to hopefully jump-start myself in a road towards a more healthy me. i'll let you all know how it goes.. but let's just say the first day was reeeeeeeeeeeally tough. but good. yeah.. good.

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