So, I’ll just say up front that, yes, I’m fat and yes, I have mixed emotions about it, because, yes, I, too, wish I had a tiny smoking hot body and that when I walked in the room, people quivered just looking at me and I wish my dog could talk to me, too, but it ain’t happening. And, as a consolation prize, I have the most fun tits ever. They’re big and round and feel good and substantial in your hand, and they’re soft and warm, and most days, they feel good when they’re touched and they look inviting in the right bra.
And I am big and round and warm and soft and I feel good and substantial in your hand and it feels good to snuggle up against me.
So, you know, it is what it is.
I could be thinner, but I’m too lazy and I am adverse to misery and discomfort.
I would rather eat what I want when I want and be fat than to count calories and fat and carbohydrates and good this and bad that and exercise and count the minutes I exercise and keep the math in my head about whether I’ve done enough to counter the stuff I’ve eaten, and still be fatter than most people, even if I were thinner than I am.
I can’t remember who said it, but it’s true that most women obsess over food like many men obsess over sports. We know stats about food, numbers and percentages so detailed it would make an oddsmaker stand back in awe. And yet, men obsess over sports because they enjoy them (or have money on them). They take straightforward pleasure in the numbers.
We take masochistic pleasure in our numbers, constantly going over them in our heads so that we can decide if we’ve been good enough or if we’ve been bad, as if what we put in our mouths reflects on our moral character and our worth as human beings.
We don’t know what we like to eat and what we don’t. We don’t know what we really enjoy and what we think we enjoy because it’s transgressive to enjoy it, because we eat for reasons that have to do with how bad or good a woman we are. We tell ourselves that we feel better when we’re thinner, that we’re happier when we’re thinner, that we’re healthier when we’re thinner even though we damn well know that the effort it takes to be thinner makes us feel very bad and that the ways we make ourselves thin are neither healthy nor pleasurable in any non-fucked up sense of the word.
I want to go off on a tangent just for a second. So, Saturday, the Professor and I were up to Mack’s house for the great Tennessee Wood-Pull and the Professor and I were sitting on the porch drinking beers and talking to SuperMousey and she, SuperMousey, was complaining about what a fat butt she has.
Now, I know your impulse is to say, “What the fuck? SuperMousey’s butt is tiny. It’s the kind of butt that has to be precariously balanced on a toilet in order to keep said owner from falling in.”
We did not say that, though; we told her that her butt wasn’t nearly big enough for her to be bragging about having a big butt.
And part of the reason we did that, of course, is to give her another way to think about her butt, that having a big butt might not be something to dread and fight against, but might be something she might enjoy having.
But the thing I want you to consider is that she’s eleven. Her butt will never be smaller than it is now and it will, because she’s got at least two, if not three, big shape changes ahead of her yet, get bigger.
It is literally impossible for SuperMousey to have a smaller butt than she does and her butt will never be smaller than it is now*.
And yet she’s already learning how to fret over it. She’s already learning how to pick at her own body, like it’s her enemy, to look at herself and be able to spot her “problem” areas.
And it pisses me off so much that I about want to cry.
I mean, sincerely, what the fuck kind of culture are we perpetuating where we teach girls that their bodies, the bodies that run them around all day through fields and woods and streams and bouncing on trampolines and skating through the house, the muscles strong enough to carry them through that are undesirable? That their body is something to be fought against and struggled with?
Over at Pandagon, they’re talking about thinness. And it’s a hard conversation to read, let alone participate in (though I gave it a shot before it upset me too much to be rational about this). And I don’t want to turn this post into some “Let’s rip on Amanda” thing, because I do think that if we don’t ever have the courage to talk frankly about this stuff, we can’t ever get at the meat (so to speak) of what keeps us trapped in shit that makes us miserable.
But the thing I’m struck by in her post and in her comments is this. She keeps saying that thin women get more attention from men than even slightly non-thin women. I believe that is true. But what I don’t understand is why a feminist wants attention from men who will only pay attention to her if she’s thin enough.
I don’t know. Maybe I answered my own question at the beginning of this post. Maybe it is about how good it feels to feel like you have all the choice in who you might fuck.
But I keep fighting with myself about this, too, because as feminists, don’t we want to be valued for more than just whether we win at being the most fuckable girl in the room? Why are we even worried about “winning” the most fuckable girl in the room contest anyway? Aren’t we supposed to be striving to get beyond competing with other women over whatever it is we are, at this second, being lured into competing with other women about?
What’s the use in being feminist if it doesn’t help you live a less miserable life?
Okay, let’s come at this from another direction. Do you think there’s something wrong with an eleven year old girl sitting around wondering if her butt is too fat?
Well, then, I ask you this. What are you going to do about it?
Are you going to model for her how to run those numbers in her head? How to keep a constant tally of whether she’s “good” or “bad”? Are you going to model for her a life in which fretting over food and restricting herself and keeping herself in line as best she can without making too many people aware of how much fretting and scrutinizing and keeping herself in line she’s doing is just what women do?
Or do you owe it to her, and yourself, to try to live in your body in the world in some way that doesn’t entail making misery and deprivation and self-denial central to who you are?
And, of course, I say all this and still do a lousy job sometimes of living it, even though I feel a great almost moral imperative to figure out how to stop making myself miserable and spreading misery to others.
*Unless she becomes severely ill.