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Getting over my body

July 31, 2014


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Trigger warning: Discussion of health.

My sister and I look nothing alike. I have red hair, she has brown hair. I have blue eyes, she has brown eyes. I’m as pale as can be, she’s olive toned. I’m fat, she’s not. But she feels that way.

When we were talking last night, I asked if she brought her swimsuit. If I have to spend a week in a hot and humid location, I’m definitely finding room to pack a swimsuit. She didn’t because she decided she’s too fat. I reminded her that everybody has a body and they come in a variety of shapes. Her response surprised me: “I’m not like you. I haven’t gotten over my body yet.”Homer

It wasn’t really a matter of getting over my body because it’s not like I had a body transplant. It was about getting over the irrational fear of my body. One way to deal with phobias is to make a list of the negative thoughts you have and then find ways to redirect the thinking. Funnily enough, my sister’s body was the catalyst for addressing a lot of my thoughts. What about our bodies scare us?

I am afraid I will be doomed to a lifetime of ugly clothing

This is a fear common to both of us. She had a hard time finding clothes that fit as a size 0, I had a hard time finding clothes that fit as a size 12, 14, 16, etc. There are a few ways to approach this:

  1. Patterns are designed for an average body, which many of us don’t have. As a result people end up with sleeves too long, pants too short, button downs that don’t button down, empire waists that are floppy on top, strangling necks, etc. The more times a pattern is used to cut a garment, the smaller it becomes until you’re left wondering why one pant fits and its identical twin in a different color doesn’t. It’s not a body size problem, it’s a production problem.
  2. We’re no longer limited to whatever is stocked at the local mall. When living in an area that was predominantly Asian, I’d be lucky to find anything over a size 8. A couple cities over, where the population was predominantly Latino, I had better luck with clothing. I’m sure the plus-sized Asians and petite Latinas were doing the same thing I was doing because the stores stocked what they thought their demographic wore and said to hell with the rest of us. Thanks to e-commerce, I no longer have to figure out where the similarly-sized people are living. Better still, I never have to leave home. I can browse inventory in my pajamas and the garments will show up on my doorstep.
  3. A changed body is a chance to get out of your comfort zone and see what works on the new you. Empire waists always gave me a quad-boob in straight sizes. They still hit a tad too high in plus sizes, but the look isn’t nearly as detrimental. I was convinced skinny jeans described the kind of people who wore them, but it turns out I was wrong. Princess-seamed clothing looked horrible on my sister’s beanpole body and great on her current one.

I’m afraid people will make fun of me

I’ve been super geeky pretty much from birth. I’m also a curly-haired ginger. Those traits alone were sufficient for plenty of crap from people. In gym class, I’d get made fun of for having boobs. In gym class, someone else would get made fun of for not having boobs. You’d be laughed at for doing well, you’d be laughed at for sucking. There’s no pleasing some people. It sucks the most when you’re school-aged because you’re stuck with those people.

As an adult, it’s much easier to tell those people to go to hell and not have to associate with them further. Sometimes you just have to hit back. I had the misfortune of sharing a table for two weeks on a cruise ship with a woman who had deputized herself Body & Food Police, Moral Authority, and Judge of Life Quality. After 13 days of hearing how horrible my non-drinking, non-partying, Type A, non-Komen-supporting, single, awesome life in my fat body was, she mentioned that she needed dessert like she needed a hole in her head. I asked her which caliber hole she’d prefer and she was practically cordial on the final night. I saw her again on another cruise and the extent of our interaction was me closing an elevator on her à la Wizard of Oz. I was rushing to dinner and not paying attention, remarked, “I guess the elevator didn’t like you,” saw who it was, and had to get through the ride without laughing.

I’m afraid nobody will want to date me

This is another one my sister’s body really helped me with before embracing my asexuality. She got rejected for her body as often as I did for mine. I used to love when people I dated described what they thought was ugly without realizing they were describing me. I got a few takeaways from the experience. First, there’s no accounting for taste. Take a look at the variety of porn being produced. The overly-altered skinny blonde might be the mainstream, but you can find content for any body type or interest. Whatever you look like, someone’s into it. Secondly, people have no clue. They might decide a number or a measurement is ugly, but they have no concept of what that number or measurement looks like in reality. Furthermore, anything can happen to a body during its lifespan. If you’re in a severely-disfiguring accident, the last thing on your mind should be whether your partner is going to leave you because they no longer like your look.

I’m afraid I’ll be sick/dead from fat

What does your bloodwork look like? I have issues with doctors, which always tends to raise my blood pressure. Rather than put up with the lecture about dropping dead from a heart attack, I ask them to take it again at the end of the appointment. No lecture necessary. We place doctors in positions of authority and trust. It’s really easy to accept everything they say as gospel. Personally, I place trust above authority. If I don’t have faith that my doctor is treating me to the best of their ability, it’s time to end the relationship. If the best of their ability is to diagnose me as fat, they need to be fired for incompetence.

I’m afraid I’ll “get over my body” and then end up sick/dead from fat

In other words, what if I’m wrong? What’s the worst that happens if you’re wrong? You end up sick/dead from fat with a period of time where you weren’t afraid of your body. It was time you could wear a swimsuit, travel, date, and whatever else you want to do with your life. If you’re going to end up sick/dead from fat anyway, wouldn’t you rather precede it with an anxiety-free interval? What good does dreading sick/dead from fat achieve? Everybody dies sometime.

Gingeroid Sig

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Dizzyd permalink
    July 31, 2014 7:06 pm

    Ha ha! I love your reply to that nosy woman on the cruise ship! I bet that shut her up! I remember reading something like that about how no matter what size you are, there are those who admire and lust after it (in a good way, I’m presuming. Don’t want any weirdos!). In a book called “Kiss My Tiara” by Susan Jane Gilman, she talked about how guys love all sorts of different women (at least the mature types. The preteen goofballs who don’t know better and proceed to make snarky comments about women’s appearance don’t count). So, you can tell your sister never fear! No matter what you look like, when the time is right, the right guy will be there and will love you for who you are (cuz if he doesn’t, he’s not the one and not worth wasting your time with). And I agree with you on the last point, we’re all gonna die eventually anyways, why not enjoy your time while you’re here instead of worrying about everything – esp. your appearance, which should be the LAST thing to worry about, (at least more than necessary that is – nice outfit, nice hairstyle, makeup and accessories, you know).

    • gingeroid permalink
      August 6, 2014 5:21 pm

      She was some kind of special. We’re traveling on a different line this year and I’m hoping she won’t be onboard. What were the odds of running into the same passenger twice? I’ll have to check that book out.

  2. vesta44 permalink
    July 31, 2014 10:41 pm

    I finally said to hell with worrying about my body or my appearance. As far as appearance goes, if my hair is clean and combed, it works. If my clothes are clean and fit my body, they work. If my body is clean, it works. And if people don’t like my appearance for whatever reason, oh well, too bad so sad sucks to be them. I worried for too many years about what I looked like and it never made my life any better because there is just no pleasing everyone – you can please some of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time (so why bother). I figure if I’m pleasing myself, that’s all that matters, and I’m too busy living my life to worry about what the rest of the world thinks of me.

    • gingeroid permalink
      August 6, 2014 5:24 pm

      Agreed. I like to dress for myself, which is the answer I give when my coworkers ask me why I’m dressed up. Tomorrow I’ll be dressed to manhandle heavy objects and get covered in grease and I figure if my jeans start the day without holes I’ll have dressed well.

  3. August 1, 2014 2:35 pm

    Wonderfully written! Especially the last part about enjoying life while you’ve got it!

    -Lifetime Fat Girl with a Skinny Sister

    • gingeroid permalink
      August 6, 2014 5:25 pm

      I can so relate. Growing up we used to call each other Twiggy and Tubby. Now we’re Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito.

  4. August 7, 2014 6:42 pm

    Reblogged this on The Cheese Whines and commented:
    These fears: I have them.
    It does feel good shutting down haters, doesn’t it? Whether the hater is a fatphobe, or someone who thinks they’re such a saint because they’re not one of “teh crazees” like me, I get a feeling of rather unsaintly smugness when they get put in their place.
    I don’t have a sister. I have a brother who is far more successful than I am, whose body is more of a mess than mine even though it’s a more socially acceptable type. He could be on disability at this point because of how badly his back’s been damaged, but he continues working nonetheless. I have to admit, I’d be tempted to take disability. I’m sick of working for nothing, and I have a crap ton of stuff outside of work that takes up a lot of my time–mostly dealing with other people.
    I mostly don’t care about clothes, except that I want them to be comfortable. I don’t have anywhere to go that requires me to look like anything special. When I’m not wearing scrubs (I choose the gaudiest ones just for fun) I’m wearing t-shirts and loose pants. I have to say, I despise the shorty-short sleeves on women’s t-shirts. I have to buy women’s t-shirts a size bigger than normal, because they’re tighter in the sleeves than men’s t-shirts.
    For all the fucks I don’t give about what people think, the insecure kid inside me can still get really, really hurt when people make nasty comments about me. Because of this, I’ve deliberately made myself very oblivious when other people start talking. Also, I tend to shop at times when there are fewer people around.
    I guess it’s lucky that I gave up on the idea of “finding love” several years ago, because guess what, it ain’t out there for me. The reason wasn’t my body, though. It was my trifecta of mental illnesses. I can’t handle the intensity of my emotions, and I tend to attract predatory men. I realized that I’m never more miserable than I am when I have a man in my life in that capacity, so that’s a done deal. I know what it’s like to feel not pretty enough for anyone to love, though. It’s an awful feeling. Few feelings are more depressing in this society that so values a certain kind of beauty.
    Other than having the Endocrine System from Hell, plus fibromyalgia as the icing on the cake, I’m not doing too badly for a nearly fifty year old bat whose body has been through the wringer from working physical jobs for most of my life. I do have hypertension, for which I take medication. Mine onset at age 45. My brother, who isn’t a Fatty McFatterson like me, was diagnosed with hypertension at nineteen.
    I also hear the phrase “given up” about trying to accept my body. Since I’ve “given up,” it will “serve me right” if I end up dead from Teh Dizeezez of Obeesity–which, oddly enough, are diseases that people of all sizes are more prone to as we age! The funny thing about the All Fat People End Up Dead rhetoric is that in truth, no-one here gets out alive. Thin people are not elves who only die of a broken heart or if they are killed in an accident or war.
    I love pieces that provoke me to write a post of my own, in a positive way. This one did!

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