ways of being engraved in the light.

And the heart bears indentations
Of yesterday’s hurting child

I have pain, too, around body image.

Morning is meant to have come for me: will I not make it to thirty weighing less than at thirteen? Less than a zero, so far down I can only buy children’s trousers? My God, I should be celebrating —

— but —

— I —

can’t.

Not only because I’m in pretty poor health, for all that skinny. Because that would mean I’d bought into the toxic tug-of-war between the Fat and the Thin, one constructed in part by companies like Dove whose definition of Real Womanhood only serves to sell soap, one constructed in part by modelling agencies who should just build cyborgs for the runway and leave actual human bodies out of it, one constructed in part by an elite who can afford to have every imperfection sucked and tugged and inflated away.

Just look at us, so eager to leap at each other’s throats when we should be linking arms.

This is not what morning looks like. This is midnight. This is the dark night of our souls. Who cares if she has an ass and she needs a pillow so’s not to go numb? Who cares if her tits sag to her navel and hers are nonexistent? Why should we be arguing over who’s prettier at all when the real question is when did empathy fall out of fashion?

Why does anyone tolerate Meghan Trainor calling me a skinny bitch when I would be pilloried, and rightly so, for calling someone else a fat bitch?

Why identify with “plus-size” models who are still airbrushed to perfection and still don’t represent most of the fat bodies I have known? Where, please, are the models whose rolls are visible through their shirts? Or visible because they wear crop-tops and low-slung boho skirts without shame? Goddamnit, where are my belly dancers? Make idols of them instead: their focus is the dance, and clothing that enhances movement instead of hindering it.

I don’t identify with tall drinks of water whose hair falls like water straight down. This is not me. This is not my ideal, either, though I have been shamed into believing it ought to be. It makes no sense. I am built like my aunt, who has issues too, come to think of it. I am small but proportional, an Amazon shrunk in the wash. Do you know? The other day I was trying on the softest jacket I had ever felt, and when I reached for my usual size, I noticed it was going to burst at the seams if I tried to move. Okay. So I went for the next size… and the next… I couldn’t move properly until I hit the Large. How absurd, that we should still curtail our very range of motion as we did a hundred years ago, when hobble skirts were In?

And if you’re wondering what a hobble skirt is, it is literally a skirt that hobbles its wearer. The photo on Wikipedia shows a black band around the woman’s shins, pinching the skirt so tight she can only mince about.

So I’m asking now. Do you want to play this game for another century?

Does your self-image depend on tearing someone else’s down? And if it does, why is that?

Do you care what it says on the label so long as it fits for your purposes?

Do you want a soap manufacturer defining what it means to be woman? Or an industry which views women’s bodies as living clothes hangers? Or that percentage of cosmetic surgeons who would prey on your insecurities in order to make a buck? Do you want to speak for them, or do you want to find your own voice in this mess?

As for me, I will be searching for the corner of humanity that does like its women short with wonky teeth and hair that’s got a life of its own. My tribe won’t throw me out because I’ve got conical breasts that smoosh into nothing when I try to wear a sports bra. My tribe lets me dance even if I haven’t got the coordination to roll anything properly!

My people are love incarnate. I want them to show me how to be better that way.

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2 thoughts on “ways of being engraved in the light.

  1. Your post reminds me of what Gloria Steinam said this morning on Super Soul Sunday. She talked about how in the Native American tribes people are linked in a circle and intertwined, while the Europeans brought the pyramid where people are ranked.
    The circle brings empathy, while the pyramid brings social stratification.

  2. Just remember that body image competition isn’t a natural thing. It is foisted upon us by marketing campaigns. Your friends think you’re beautiful no matter how big or small they themselves are. In the end I hope their opinions matter more than some millionaire ad exec and his legion of evil industrial psychologists.

    And at that beauty is more than skin, bone, fat, and muscle. It is the look in your eyes, the smile on your face. The way you carry yourself. Each thing that is perfectly and uniquely you. Because they’re unique you may think they’re flaws. That’s the big thing I had to fight against myself.

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