Updated: Jul 5, 2022
I thought it was just me. It's never just me.
My muffin top ate my undies. (My tattoo is a crowned heart- means compassion + power) A friend of mine sent me a message last night saying that she has gained weight and is larger than the last time we saw her. It was a warning, an apology of sorts, getting ahead of the shock we might feel. We "might not even recognize her" when we see her this weekend for the first time in several years.
I KNOW THIS WARNING. I have drafted and deleted this warning so many times over the past year. Every time someone visits me or I travel to see friends and family I haven't seen for a long while, I feel the need to apologize for how I look. To get ahead of their judgement. To establish, yes, I know, my body is not the same and I'm so sorry you have to witness it. Then I get furious at myself for feeling that way, for being so body-negative, vain, simple...and I HATE how much harder this is for people who are bigger, who lose out on elements of life because of anti-fat bias. I HATE IT. Here I sit at the crossroad of intellectual/unlearning, and the feeling/conditioning. Always the conflict. I told my friend that I feel her, I'm right there with her, and we wrote the following together. These shitty feelings are a little less desolate when shared. Also, objectively, I know that her smile, style, grace, and sarcasm are what will stand out most when I see her, which gives me hope that that's true for people bearing witness to me, as well.
SO, if you're there too, I wrote us a script for how to apologize for our fatness when we are seeing family and friends this summer. Do we fucking hate every single part of this? We do, yes. But are we the only ones feeling this way? Not even a little bit.
My dearest loved one,
It’s been a real motherfucker of a few years. I tried not to die, like, AGGRESSIVELY, and I also tried to keep my family and members of my community from dying. It was a lot of work. I also have been trying to WORK and parent through multiple apocalypses (apocalypsi?), and not get TOO rage-y and terrified by everything...but fucking wow, it’s been a lot.
Then, around the terror of dying, I've been trying to keep me, my family, and my community umm…sort of positive and hopeful, I guess? Like, laughing and having fun sometimes? Or at least not spiraling into the pits of eternal despair? And it all felt like my job to keep us on track and mentally stable, somehow, even though I’m the one with the depression and anxiety? Which have been OFF THE CHARTS, btw, but, whatever, when the chips are down, I’m your gal.
All of this took a lot of snacks. Those chips? I picked them up and ate them. All of them. Also, for me, weed, and wine, and therapy, and antidepressants, and anti-anxiety meds, and meditation, and more therapy got me through (ish).
So, now I’m about to see you irl. I’m, psychologically, held together by Scotch tape…but I think I can mask that with jokes and drinks and distractions. What I cannot hide is how fat I got. When I lumber into the room (in my mind, you'll be forewarned of my arrival by the BOOM BOOM BOOM sound and the water shaking in your glass, a la Jurassic Park), you'll immediately notice that many, many tens of pounds of survival weight has been gained. I’M FUCKING HERE, against what felt like insurmountable odds, but I’m a different shape than I was when you last saw me.
I may have parts I didn’t have before. I wear a different size. I think I might move differently. I’m terrified I might even sound or smell different? Oh, God. My body is now, objectively, one that people judge on first blush and I am angry but also mortified, because this body, this woman deserves judgement, doesn’t she? Doesn’t she deserve our mutual wrath and disdain? That's all I've ever witnessed, it's the only reality I've known. Fatness= reactions of pity and worry that are really loathing and superiority. The one rule of being a proper woman is keeping your body more or less tight, AND I FAILED. I AM A FAILURE; a bad woman, a bad body, a bad me.
I hate those fucking rules more than anything. I hate that I’m told to resent my body (really no matter its scale or size). I hate that I was taught to feel like we women fall on a hierarchy of value based on our waist, like our acceptability in society can be measured from afar. I hate that the only way to be acceptably fat is to apologize for it and have a plan of action (diet, exercise, starvation, self-loathing) that mollifies us and the people around us.
I hate it, I HATE IT, but I acknowledge the reality of it.
At the same time I'm shouting fuck you to the system, I'm whispering I'm sorry for my unsightliness to my loved ones.
When you see me, you will intuitively judge me and I don’t hold that against you, because I judge me, too. These rules were nailed into our minds, imprinted on our flesh. THEY ARE TRUTH as far as we know it. Don’t pretend you don’t know what I mean, or see my changed, down-graded body. That would be worse. I think. "You look fine, what are you talking about?" feels like dismissal instead of the love and loyalty that's intended. Please just acknowledge that, relative to my normal, this is not what I expect to look like, or where I feel comfortable and confident. I'm working on all of these feelings, but please don't pretend the battle doesn't exist.
So I wanted to give you a heads-up and say that I’m sorry. I know that I got fat, and I know you know that I know that you know that I look like a failed woman.
I’m also sorry for being sorry, because FUCK THE PATRIARCHY, but here we are.
Thank you for understanding I’m doing the best I can...in all ways.