Saturday, January 25, 2014

Mean People, Well Meaning People, And A Body That Does Not Belong To Me

I remember the exact moment I started hating my body. I was 9 years old. My uncle asked what I wanted to be when I grow up and my answer of the moment was a ballerina. He said:

You aren't going to have the build for that. 

I had been taking dance classes since I was 5. It was the first time it occurred to me that I had to be built any certain way. I was not a chubby kid. I quit dance for the next 2 years. Ballet class, when I returned to it, became an exercise in cataloging my inadequacies.

Age 16: Some boys on the track team called me Popeye and teased me for my muscular legs. I could squat more than most of them and my legs were really muscular. I was 5'7" tall and the largest size I'd ever worn was a size 6. I thought I was a giant.

Age 20: I was on the dance team at my University. We danced at halftime at basketball games and in competitions and that sort of thing. I worked out hours every day. I ate breakfast in the morning and then at night I ate 3 breadsticks and a smoothie. I got a lot of positive attention for how I looked. I loved it. I thought I was the fattest person on my dance team. I wasn't. And not a single one of us was fat anyway. Not by a long shot.

Age 23: I started taking a form of birth control that is now illegal and had a pretty big lawsuit brought against the creator company. It messed up my hormones terribly. I gained 70 some odd pounds in a matter of a few months. Both a doctor and a nutritionist accused me of lying in my food journal and looked at me with disgust. I was not lying. I got really depressed and gained another 15 pounds or so. It would be several years before I would get off that birth control and take the drugs to correct the damage of those drugs. Then a few more before I recovered from depression enough to lose all that weight. I spent the last 2/3rds of my twenties fat and depressed and feeling crazy because no one believed me.

Age 30: I woke up. I began losing all the weight. I got back down to a "pretty" size. A number of female friends who had become my friends when I was fat started hating me. The husband of one of them told me that she told him he was no longer allowed to hang out with me because I might try to seduce him. I threw up in my mouth a little.

Age 31: Someone attacked my body because it pissed them off.

Age now: I've been married 10 months. I've gained 20 pounds. That's 2 pounds a month in case anyone is counting. It kind of creeps up on you. IT SUCKS. I'm not used to cooking three meals a day for a child. I'm not used to not having 3 hours a day to work out. Recently I was warned not to "let myself go" because it would destroy my marriage and my music career. So, I am, of course, trying frantically to lose weight. Because I want my jeans to fit - and that's all me. But also because I'm terrified of what my fat body might mean for other people.

I don't know how I feel about my body, because I've spent 2 of my 3 decades obsessing about how other people felt about my body. I don't know how to stop that. This isn't a blog post where I come to a conclusion. I haven't figured this all out. People tell me to love myself regardless, but people do not love me the same regardless, despite what they say. I've seen it in action.

This isn't the most important thing in my life. Please don't misunderstand. But it does affect me all the time. And that only makes me feel sad, because I want my life to be focused on only things that really matter. This shouldn't matter. Should it? Maybe it should. Because maybe it's less about vanity and more about being pissed off that my body is a matter of public debate. That my body does not belong to me, but instead belongs to the opinions of other bodies.

I want to own my own body.


I want to be a better feminist. I want to tell people to fuck off because I don't care what they think about how I look. Except I do care. Too much.

I really hated when those boys called me Popeye.


  1. YES! I can totally relate. I tried on bridesmaids dresses today and getting measured and looking at myself in so many mirrors was not a happy time. Of course I compared myself to others there.

  2. Popeye kicked butt!! So do you!

  3. Wow! You spoke for so many of us...when I look back at my pictures of myself in my 20s & 30s, I want to go back in time & tell that look fine, you are beautiful & you are NOT fat....& I have noticed most males who criticize a woman's body couldn't get a date with a tractor themselves so they lash out in jealousy & frustration....

  4. You have two choices -- 1) Shake off the 'ugliness of others', stomp it under your feet, rise up higher than they are and SHINE, like the precious flower that you are.
    2) Or....Let the 'pigs' trample over you and rob you of your pearls. (confidence, self-worth, courage...etc.)

    Forgive them for they know not what they do....but they will. For as much as they have damaged your self-image, they will suffer too. Unlike you, they will not know why! Again....Forgive them. Free yourself from the cage in which they've trapped you and move on.

  5. It's crazy what we believe to be true based on what others tell us. I was a fat kid. It was true, but even after I lost the weight in highschool, I still believed I was fat, because that's what they were still telling me. Then I gained 50+ pounds in college. Now approaching 40, I have lost 66 pounds. I'm back down to my high school weight. Terrified of gaining it back. 2 things that I used to lose weight and use to stay there are and Anyway....thank you for sharing. So many of us struggle with this.

  6. I love reading all of your comments. Thank you for sharing your stories and for the support and solidarity! <3