Monday, November 29, 2010

Giving Thanks and other Weighty Issues

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Four days later! Whatever, I was in a food coma for the past three and couldn't be bothered to get up off the couch in order to blog. But even though the holiday has come and gone, I still want to take a moment to publicly Give Thanks for all the wonderful things this past year has brought me.

So I officially give thanks for:
Buddhist abbeys
awesome moms
awesome sisters
awesome brothers-in-law
kittens and dogs
all the amazing people in my life who teach me new things every day
did I mention super-awesome moms?

Thank you world, for all the wonderful things in you. May I live my life in gratitude for everything that comes along in each moment.

Okay, that's done! Now let's move on to other matters that have been occupying my mind.

So those of you who know me know that I am a *ahem* "big girl." By that I mean that I've been known to eat my weight in fudge, and my body reflects that penchant. It's been a pretty annoying and sometimes awful sticking point in my life. But thanks (again) to Buddhism, I'm starting to create some space around this issue, and some interesting things have come up.

For example: I rarely feel like a fatty inside. As far as I'm concerned, I am a lithe and graceful fairy princess. When I see a picture of myself or catch an unexpected glimpse in the mirror or knock something over with my ass cause I didn't give myself enough room (true story, people), I am genuinely shocked and surprised and dismayed. The reality outside just doesn't match the reality inside.

So which one is real?

I'll give you time to discuss.

Oh wait, did you think I would have an answer to this? I don't. Let's just discuss and see what we come up with. And you may think the answer is obvious, but I'm not so sure.

Just think about it.

There is one other aspect to this matter of weight that has been coming up a lot recently, and it's a little thornier and a little less esoteric. I'd like to pose a question, and you may think you know the answer, but let's work with this a little bit.

The question is: Do fat people deserve happiness?

The answer is, of course, yes, everybody deserves happiness. But I suspect many of us don't give that answer right away, or give the answer quickly while a small (or maybe large) part of us recoils in disgust and isn't so sure.

Here's why I'm currently thinking about this. Example 1: My grandmother. She has very little to do and is insane and Italian, so her newest obsession is my weight. She calls me on the phone to tell me she's worried about my weight. I don't visit her anymore because the last time I did she advanced on me (quite literally,) smacking the back of her hand with her palm and exhorting me to "starve myself if I need to." She always brings my weight up in conversations with my mother and sister. Now, this is all mostly a reflection of her insanity, but her attitude that I'm no good if I'm fat is subtly mirrored in much of our culture. Grandmom is just an extreme example because she has no internal screening process. There's a lot more to this point, but it would take a thesis to explore, and we just don't want to go there.

So let's move on to other brief examples.

My sister has always been thin and strong and beautiful, from day one. She used to have these golden ringlets when she was a toddler, and next to her in pictures I look like a dark, angry, stocky troll. This body dynamic has never changed for either of us, and though 28 years have passed I haven't yet been able to free myself from envy. So the other night my mom and I did a little clothes shopping, and my loving mom quickly started playing her favorite game, "buying things for her daughters." I happen to like this game, but my ears perked up when mom said "this would look great on your sister. She is just so beautiful." I couldn't help but read into the subtext of what she said, and has been saying for years. The subtext is that she is beautiful because she has a beautiful body, and I couldn't help but feel the cry rise up inside me "but aren't I beautiful, too?"

Frankly, in most American people's minds I'm not, because I don't have a beautifully thin body. It seems a narrow standard of beauty, but it seems to be the only one that matters. I'm sure in Fiji, where large and hairy women are celebrated, I would be a prize. But I cannot even wrap my mind around a reality in which that would be true.

I certainly don't mean to disparage my mom, because she is she is wonderful and compassionate. But she is, we all are, a product of society, and she is an example of what most people think. It happened, I didn't imagine it, and it's been happening for all of my life. And I can see it in many, many other people's eyes. What I constantly see is: "she would be so beautiful if she would just put the box of Godiva down..."

And so I am left always feeling less-than, always falling short of the goal, and I've despised myself for it for all these years. I've screamed at myself and hated myself and told myself that I am undeserving of love. All because I don't fit into a narrow perception of a concept that could be so much broader.

I am beautiful. We all are. Period. No exceptions. And maybe it's just that I'm unable to see other things that may be in their eyes that I don't notice because I'm fixated on the weight thing. That's a definite possibility here.

At any rate, I'm tired of feeling awful because I fall short in one over-hyped category of classification. I'm over it. So get on the bus, Grandma. You're either in or your out.

Next stop, happytown!

1 comment:

  1. Whew, that was a HELL of a post!
    You ARE beautiful. And awesome. And amazing in every way. And I love you.
    (Grandmom, on the other hand, is delusional and a big meanie)