Moon Man has recently started playing Assassin’s Creed. Also, for our first anniversary (as a dating couple) several years back, he took me to a modestly fancy restaurant–nothing five-star, but they did have linen napkins and the meal was awfully expensive. Hold on to those two facts: they’ll be relevant later.
One of the realizations I’ve made, as I’ve looked at my experience with weight and food and exercise, is that instead of building myself a body that could outrun zombies / outperform other athletes / fit into any clothing I wanted / turn heads, I’ve built a body that shielded me from having to do any of that. I’ve built a body that doesn’t encourage expectations, so I can’t let anyone down. I’ve built a body that prescreens potential suitors, because if they can accept the fact that I’m fat, then they’re already more tolerant than a lot of people, so maybe some of my other weirdnesses won’t be as shocking to them. I’ve built a body that prevents me from participating in certain activities because of weight limits, size restrictions, etc.
Basically, I’ve built myself a heavy suit of armor, that shields me from the world.
And, y’know, that’s not really an uncommon thing. A lot of us build bodies for ourselves that are padded, squishy, and designed to protect us from cold temperatures, general trips-and-falls, and potential fear or heartbreak. “Of course s/he didn’t love me,” we can say to ourselves, “because look at me!”, and then we don’t have to think very hard about ourselves as people.
I recall a conversation I had once with River Fox Woman, where I actually literally said, “I’m not sure I ever want to get thinner, because I don’t think I want to know who among us would be attracted to me at a different weight. I would judge them, I think, for being shallow”. And while that’s true to the 50% mark, the other 50% is that I didn’t want to know who wouldn’t be attracted to me at a smaller size, because maybe that would mean there was something fundamentally unattractive about me. Far easier to just pin it on my size and be done with it.
And what makes me think I’d fit into society better if I were at a smaller size? Remember that fancy-ish restaurant I mentioned earlier? Yeah, part of me enjoyed feeling like a pretty princess that day (we had reservations and everything, and to the person I was at that time, that was a very big deal), but part of me felt awkward and out-of-place. I’m from a lower-middle-class family. I got less than zero training on how to behave in fancy restaurants because we never went to any, and so I managed to embarrass myself approximately every 30 seconds while we were there (though Moon Man apparently noticed none of it, so, y’know, that’s a good thing). I ordered the salad wrong. My biscuit crumbled into a thousand pieces so I couldn’t butter it. I dropped my napkin. None of them was a crisis, really, but they all added up to make me pretty well convinced that even if I could wear the red-carpet gown, I’d be completely out of my element on a red carpet. I wouldn’t have the first idea how to act if I were invited to tea with the Queen. Shoot, I barely know how to comport myself when I’m around friends; don’t get me started on how to manage with fancy strangers. Far better to be too fat to be invited to the parties where the swanky people go, y’know?
And then there’s heights. Remember Assassin’s Creed, from up there in the first paragraph? Part of the game is that your character has mad parkour/Spiderman skills, and climbs buildings all the blessed time. Which is cool and all, but as it turns out, it gives me vertigo. I get all tense watching Moon Man play, because his character is forever ascending to high places, and I am just petrified of heights. But apparently leading a fit and healthy life means you have to do things like that–there’s a Citi commercial, for instance, where the nice people go rock climbing instead of getting an engagement ring, and I am forever seeing pictures of healthy people scaling mountains. Skinny people go skiing. They ride roller coasters. They go cliff-diving or parasailing or bungee jumping. And I don’t want to do any of those things. I want to keep my feet right here on terra firma, thank you very much, and as long as I’m fat, I don’t have to do any of those things, because it would never even occur to people to invite me.
So I’ve built myself this armor, so I didn’t have to risk rejection or get invited to swanky parties where I wouldn’t know how to behave, and so I didn’t have to come up with a way to say “No thank you, I would not like to go horseback riding with you, because while I am very excited about the theory of it, the reality is that horses are tall and I am vaguely terrified of the idea of climbing up on something that is more than about six inches off the ground and which might actively try to fling me to my death”.
But I’m tired of this armor. That’s why I’m working on getting rid of it, one piece at a time. I’m married to a wonderful man. I have wonderful friends. I am learning how to say “no, thank you” to invitations that don’t interest me, and learning how to push my boundaries a little bit when I am interested in something and just don’t have the relevant skill set yet. I am putting myself out there, flappy bits and embarrassing parts and fears and dreams and all, on this little blog, and if people don’t like it, they can just close the tab or window.
I’m still a little bit afraid of this big scary world, but I think it’s time to try it without the training wheels. It’s time to get rid of the armor.
…Well, it’s time to get rid of part of the armor. The legitimate self-preservation part can stay. Surely there’s something skinny people do for fun that doesn’t require a death wish.
(Hint: it’s not rock climbing, that’s for darned sure.)