Let me tell you a little story about a not-so-little girl. Legend has it she got not-so-little due to her picky palate and refusal to eat anything but starchy vegetables and Easy Mac. As the years passed, her excess intake of carbohydrates stuck to her in the least-flattering way that fat could stick to a person. You could see nothing but disgust and self-loathing in her eyes-merely a nine-year-old child! You would never catch this girl with more than a half-hearted grin in any photograph.
And the fat jokes, they came. As early as the fourth grade. They stung, oh they stung. But not nearly as badly as her own thoughts in her head. But she fought to suppress them, that is, until she was involuntarily thrust into the firey, unforgiving, pubescent realms of junior high school. By that time, the voices had won.
Just like that, from the end of seventh grade to the beginning of the eighth, the girl had dropped from her hearty, 110 pound chubbiness to a gaunt, skeleton-like 72 pounds. She thought that in doing this, she would satisfy the voices in her head, but they had only grown stronger with time. She was ugly, she was worthless, she was disgusting. And she believed it, too.
Since then, she has crawled out of the hole she’d dug herself into, but her thoughts remain the same. Subconsciously, she still sees the portly fourth grader she’d shed a number of years ago. With every bite of cookie or cake or french fry comes an overwhelming and exhausting feeling of guilt, which results in her self-consciously pinching at herself in the mirror for the next half-hour.
You guessed it, that girl is me. Living with a distorted body image is a living hell, I assure you. You take every fat joke, every weight-loss “secret” to heart, and you never feel good enough. It sucks.
But Maddie, you’re a feminist!
Feminists don’t believe in vanity or in giving in to societal pressures!
Shut up you guys, i’m only human.
And yes, I do believe that women are worth way more than their dress size or number on the scale and that “what matters is how you feel on the inside” and all that gushy, feel-good crap. On a conscious level, I really do agree to all of that. And I can counsel other girls till i’m blue in the face on how their size doesn’t matter and that they don’t have to be “beautiful” to be of worth, but I can’t apply a lick of my own words and “beliefs” to my own life. There, I said it.
It’s a freaking drag.
So here I am, conflicted as ever. Having the strongest belief in feminism and not owing beauty to anyone, when I am consciously indebted to myself with my vain bodily short-comings.
Naturally, the blame falls both on the shoulders of the fat, carb-inhaling youngster I used to be, and also our disgusting, skinny-worshiping patriarchal society.
A sincere thank-you to the both of y’all.
I’m not sure what the point was for this post, but in the words of Nick Carraway from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, “Writing brings me solace.”