what’s my excuse?

So I’m not ripped.

I think people would look at my numbers and expect me to resemble Maria Kang more closely, but I don’t. In the first place, I love what fat deposits I clawed back from the Anorexia Monster. I love my pinchable inch. I love my jiggly rear and thigh bits.* I have at least made peace with my tiny happy boobs. Of course, where I lack fat, I look kind of skeletal. I have the sleeves of my bathrobe zhuzhed right now and it’s like a bone sticking out of a drumstick. Ew.

Ms Kang and I do not share a body type. Evidently she’s a lot more slender in the waist and hips, with a touch more bust. Me, I love my defined waist. I am built in such a way that my hips and my ribcage naturally lend themselves to an egg-timer shape (you couldn’t call it a full hourglass). Why would I do anything to obscure that characteristic? I’m short. I need a little something to set me apart from a ten-year-old boy. If I tuck my button-down shirts into low-riding jeans, I’m completely androgynous.

This may be why I miss my long hair, even though it was a pain.

Perhaps most relevant to my interests: healthy lifestyles come in many guises. I am healthier these days not because I hit the gym obsessively, but because I spend two hours every Sunday shooting a 24-pound bow from 20, 30, and 40 yards. This means plenty of walking and considerable upper body exercise. This is the first gentle workout I have been able to pursue since my last fibromyalgia relapse**. I’m going to have aquatic physical therapy as well, as soon as it’s prescribed. Have you ever had to consider the health of your joints in the exercise you choose? Have you ever been put to bed by unrelenting pain? For me, hardcore workouts are unhealthy. Able-bodied people seldom understand that their idea of a proper workout is overkill for me.*** Muscle definition is the last thing I’d call an indicator of my improved health. Weight gain to a non-anorexic BMI, pain reduction, and increased stamina will tell me I’m on the right track.

I look at my mother’s body and I think that she’s just as gorgeous for never having ditched the baby weight entirely. That body nourished me! That body gave me life! She’s a powerful woman, the Dragon of her birth year, and no matter what fights we have, I know she would give anything to see me happy and well. So she has lumps? She can still rock a little black dress at sixty, and I swear I’ll get her into a pencil skirt before she retires. She can tuck her blouses into anything, wear blazers, cut her hair short, and still look miles more feminine than I do. You can run her numbers and you might find them a little wonky, but not so bad that she’ll die if she doesn’t change her lifestyle. And why should she? She walks miles every weekend, only tipples a tiny bit, and balances her desserts with fish and salads.

She’s not ripped. She’s happy. And except for the fibro, damnit, so am I.

Ms Kang, I don’t hate your image. I hate the words you chose to go with it. I’m sorry you once struggled with an eating disorder, and I know that pain. My experience with that pain taught me how to love and appreciate many kinds of beauty. I worked hard to regain my sanity. I am more or less consistent in my commitment never to go there again, and when I slip, the universe sticks out its tongue. When I’m not knackered, I do train at archery, but for performance, not for my body; the man who teaches us archery is plenty round, thank you, and also an amazing shot. He celebrates his achievements with chocolate. Eating well? Eating anything is eating well in my shoes. As for fidelity, to thine own self be true. I’m just not a woman who values the same things you do, in the very same ways.

I don’t feel one jot inferior to you because of our shapes. I believe it is possible to be fat and healthy. I’m sorry your mother wasn’t. I’m glad my mother is. Maybe my opinions would be different if my mother had died young the way yours did. That leaves scars. As it is, I’m glad you are surviving and making a life for yourself. Don’t let it sour you on the pleasures in this world. Be kind to yourself, Maria Kang. Cry when you must. Rejoice in your good health and your beautiful children. Go buy a dress from Cache! I love them, too! (Soft leopard sheath dress in something incredibly soft? Ohhh, yes.)

Love and be loved and the rest will fall into place.

Now I am going to throw on a skirt over these fleecy pyjama pants, put on my favorite black knit cap, and go practice from 10 yards because it really is helping my aim.


* So does Eleven. Maaaaan, you should hear him sometime.
** Doc V-chan confirmed it. And yes, I am calling her that because she reminds me of a geekier Sailor V/Aino Minako.
*** As ever, I have the best partner in the world and some of the best friends, too.

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