Monday, February 15, 2010

Ordinary Human Bodies

I feel myself expand and diminish from day to day, sometimes from hour to hour.
If I tell someone my weight, I change in their eyes: I become bigger or smaller, better or worse, depending on what that number, my weight, means to them.
I know many women, young and old, gay and straight, who look fine, whom I love to see and whose faces and forms I cherish, who despise themselves for their weight.
For their ordinary human bodies.
They and I are simply bigger than we think we should be.
We always talk about weight in terms of gains and losses, and don’t wonder at the strangeness of the words.
We’ve lost hope of simply being seen for ourselves.
The number of the scale became my totem, more important than my experience - it was layered, metaphorical, metaphysical, and it had bewitching power.
I thought if I could change that number, I could change my life.
Weight is now a symbol not of the personality but of the soul - the cluttered, neurotic, immature soul.
When I say to someone, “I weigh too much,” I hear, “Oh, no! You don’t. You’re just —” What? Plump? Big-boned? Rubenesque? I’m just not thin. That’s crime enough.
Because it is my fleshy curves I want to be rid of after all. I dream of having a boy’s body, smooth, hipless, lean. A body rapt with possibility, a receptive body suspended before the storms of maturity.
I want to be a bud and not a flower.
Sometimes I look in the mirror and see a woman with flesh, curves, muscles, a few stretch marks, the beginnings of wrinkles, with strength and softness in equal measure. But to like my body would be shameless, to be wanton in the pleasure of being inside a body.
If only I could catch a glimpse of myself by accident and think only: That’s me. My face, my hips, my belly, my hands. Myself.
Other times, I look in the mirror and think: Who am I am kidding? I’ve got to do something about myself. Only then will this vague discontent disappear.
Then I’ll be loved.

~ From A Weight that Women Carry by Sallie Tisdale

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