I know, I know. Tsk-tsk-tsk and a big "no-no", right? I'm with you - I hate the "F" word. It's just horrible - dismissive and demeaning, literally and figuratively weighted down with the worst of the worst negative assumptions and connotations. I know we're not supposed to say some of the things you're going to read here, but I want to be honest and I figure that sometimes even the right words need to sound wrong.
"She really doesn't need that dessert." ... "How did she let herself get that big?" ... "She shouldn't be wearing that dress." ... "Well at least I'm smaller than her." ...
Sucks doesn't it? If we're not thinking it about ourselves, we're thinking it about each other. Not all of us, and not all the time, but every so often, perhaps when we've had a particularly stressful day or are lacking that sense of emotional security in our own lives, we lash out and turn a harsh and judgmental eye on our fellow woman, then seeing our own reflection we rip ourselves to shreds.
I'm guilty. I saw a picture of the actress Mischa Barton the other day, looking fuller in the hips, thighs, and face than she did back in the days of "The O.C.", and I think I actually mouthed "wow" as I was standing there in the check-out line. I looked down at my own thighs (because we all know the absolute best way to appraise the relative size of one's thighs is to look at them from the top down) and raised my eyebrows a bit as I thought, "Well, if Mischa's my size now then I guess it's ok to be me."
Yeah. It was beyond flame-worthy. I should have had my rights to womanhood yanked right then and there. How absurd and out of my mind was I to a) have even the slightest disparaging thought about an actress who used to be pin-thin and now actually has a soft, feminine, womanly figure, b) compare my own size and shape, from a distorted point of view I might add, to hers, and c) to actual use another woman's figure as a barometer for my own acceptance of myself?? It's insane. And unacceptable. I feel sick even retelling it to you.
Don't we all wish the body image struggle would just go away? But it doesn't! It never even wanes - and why is that? We hate it so much, yet we keep the devil around? Seriously readers - what's the breaking point on that glass ceiling?
And then there's the conversation about personal standards. I can only speak to mine, so here we go... Right now, I am about as unsatisfied with my body as I've ever been. And yes, I feel fat. I'm carrying extra weight thanks to my own self-destructive, primarily impulsive decision to give up on my gluten-free diet which has wrought havoc on my digestive, nervous, muscular, and reproductive systems. Gobbling up gluten proteins that my body cannot digest has lead to a back up in digestion of other key nutrients, resulting in a damn near-constant feeling of hunger and inability to feel full. Muscle fatigue is becoming more common and longer lasting, and is also occasionally accompanied by muscle spasms. I had been migraine-free for several months and in the past few weeks I've had two that put me out for the night and most of the following day. And not that you want to know, but my friendly lady cycle has gone and lost its damn mind.
The key thing, however, is the weight gain - and I'm sorry for checking off all my celiac symptoms for you, it's just that one does not seem to come without the other - I've gained weight without even remotely consistent exercise, so it's all just sort of settled around my mid section in the most unflattering, bulgy paunch since Winnie dipped into the honey pot. My backside, though not entirely hopeless, has lost some shape (or gained some shape, depending), and no matter how much I yanked my jeans up by the belt loops, I could not avoid a muffin-top while getting dressed this morning.
Luckily for me (more sarcasm) I've been heavy before, so I know how to dress around this. But that's hardly the point. Because I started the morning a bit disgusted and wholly frustrated with what my body has become, I spent the rest of the day looking for reassurance in others, and some might argue, also at their expense. Maybe at my expense too. I know what my body could, and would be if I followed the diet that I know is best for my health, and that's what makes me look at myself in the mirror and say, "Unacceptable." If I was eating properly I would be better able to manager both my hunger and my portions, would subsequently not be experiencing this draining fatigue or migraines, and would be back in the gym like I used to be, pissing people off camping on a treadmill for 45 minutes, working the circuit, and punching the nuggets out of a standing bag in kick boxing.
There are some women my size and larger who I consider to have flawless figures; whose weight appears natural, healthy, and intended. I don't know what was going through my mind that made me judge so harshly, and instantly. As wrong as it is, both to think and to admit, knowing that I could look better gives way to the preposterous notion that I also know the anatomy and physiology of every other woman and I think to myself, they could look better too. I found that picture of Mischa Barton again this evening and looking at her now, at the end of my night, when I'm in my forgiving yoga pants and husband's Navy t-shirt, I think she looks lovely. Comfortable and more grown up even - ironic, considering that's also how I feel right now, as opposed to the mental case I was this morning. But I definitely judged her first and I hate that. It's as though Hollywood presented her as our standard of what a skinny girl should be - she went from actress to accuracy test and seeing her today, however many pounds heavier, broke my mental odometer.
I have been thinking about this post since the afternoon and my thoughts have gone in a dozen different directions. I don't have any grand, concluding ideas, but I would like to hear what you have to say - and feel free to say it all. Where are you with the weight issue? How do you check your judgment and cultivate acceptance, tolerance, open-mindedness, and respect? I admittedly need your help on this one. I suppose it stands to reason that seeking to improve myself will also improve my outlook on the world and thus lessen my contribution to the woman-on-woman hate crime, but that seems so self-serving and I'm looking for more than that.