Sometimes I am convinced that I am way larger than I actually am: classic body dysmorphia (like anorexics). I get angry and sad about being fundamentally wrong-bodied, and maybe one day dying never having known what it feels like to be thin and classically pretty.
Then other times – maybe even most of the time? – I go along living in what I presume is a Matrix-style delusion, thinking I’m sexy, pretty, strong (not fat) and glowing. That my personal style is original and striking, but also soft. That my huge laugh might shake the ground, but it practically forces other people to laugh too.
My size almost feels like an asset to me when I’m floating around in this delusional state. It gets me attention. Gives me gravitas in a room full of floaty shifty generally-untrustworthy business people who all look the same. The whole notion of taking up more space – in a feminist way – feels about right to me. I am also de-sexualized enough that I can be heard.
I also like being seen as having a little bit of hard-won wisdom, since I’m living the actual fat life, versus the imagined and feared fat life. I think some thin women wonder what it would be like to be fat. I would. In my delusional “fat-is-beautiful” state of mind, I try to project contentment. Strength. Joy. Like a sober woman surrounded by drinkers, I don’t want to feed thin women’s fear of fat. I want to model that what they fear most is a form of freedom and insurrection.
But then the bubble bursts, of course. I see a photo or two that show me what I really look like and I quickly sink into shame. So ugly. So much like those before pictures in so many diet ads. A huge expanse of back fat with no discernible waistline. Four chins. Flat hair. Thickening ankles.
I have a pretty deep-seated New England WASP anxiety around being a “show off”. There’s nothing more shameful than being proud of yourself when you’ve got nothing to be proud of. Those people are arrogant. Snooty. Think they’re better than everyone else. And for No. Good. Reason.
So I swing from one exaggerated picture to the other, and can’t seem to settle in some neutral, reality-based notion of how much space I take up, how my clothing falls on me, what my chin does when I roll my eyes or laugh, or how the world perceives me.
Did I mention that my ass regularly knocks into people’s water and wine glasses when I’m being escorted to a table at a restaurant? I’m always shocked. Truly. Who did that? Was that really my own ass, that’s here, attached to my body?
Isabel Foxen Duke told me that seeing photos of ourselves is the most common trigger back to diet mentality. She suggested I get a lot of photos taken of me. Maybe hire a photographer. Do a boudoir shoot or something. It’s important to see yourself at all angles, all poses. To see yourself in different outfits, in different lighting. With make up, without make up. It teaches you to align your imaginary self with your real self and just move the fuck on.
I like that idea. Maybe I’ll ask my husband or a friend to take pictures of me and I’ll post them here if I feel up to it. Stay tuned on that…