Trying My Best to Love Me

This week on Facebook, the radio, and news there was much discussion about a meme showing a very physically fit woman and her three children. The heading said, “What is your excuse?”  There was much discussion both supporting and vilifying this photo. I came down on the side of “if the heading had said, ‘I am proud of what I have accomplished,’” I would have had no issue with the post.  There are many ways to be healthy and many bodies to be healthy in. Size is not always an indicator of health, because like meth y’all. You can be thin and be anorexic. You can be thin and a meth head. You can be all different types of unhealthy and be thin. It needs to be repeated that size is not a sure fire way of determining a person’s heath.

I have body issues by the dozen. Some days I change clothes three times because I feel constricted. I huff and puff and yell that I am too fat to wear anything. Other days I feel like I am a womanly fertility God and meant to be worshipped. Every day is different and I have a sneaking suspicion that some of this is hormone driven. I am me and this is the body I live in. I am beautifully flawed (we all are) and I think it makes me interesting. When people meet me I don’t know if my weight is the first thing they notice? Maybe they say, “Why is that fat lady saying ‘fuck’ so much?” Who knows what they think?

A few nights ago I lay on the couch and watched The Little Couple. Saidee climbed up next to me and asked if she could lie on my boobs. I laughed and said yes, she snuggled up and asked questions about the show, because that is what she does.

“Momma, why are they little?”

“Well, Baby they were born that way.”

“Who is Zoey?”

“Zoey is a little girl in India that they are adopting.”

“Why?”

“She lives in an orphanage and needs a family to love and take care of her.”

“Like Annie?”

Soon she stopped asking questions and I felt her become heavy. Her breath was rhythmic and I could hear a slight snore. On my chest was the head of a six year old that has no question of her place in this world. She is safe, loved, and protected. I worry that I have inadvertently passed on my own body issues to my children. To help keep this little girl from feeling bad about her body I need to be more self aware about the things I say regarding my own body. 

So, to answer the meme I say. I don’t need an excuse for not looking like you. I look like me and I am okay with that, or at least I am trying to be.

I am a size 22 and I am many things: friend, daughter, wife, mother, student, employee, funny, smart, occasionally hateful, and occasionally insightful.  Most of us have a lot going on and don’t need the added pressure of being asked, “What is your excuse?”

Advertisements

Uncomfortably Fat

Sometimes, I make people uncomfortable. I am loud and cuss a great deal. I wear lots of colors all at one time. I tell stories that require wild hand gestures. My personality takes up space, but not nearly as much as my body does.  I am 274 pounds, and to some, I am uncomfortably fat.

As a chubby chick I have rules that I have to live by. My hair must be clean if I am to leave the house. No Tweety Bird shirts at any time. Never can I wear tennis shoes with no laces. If eating at a buffet, I will never be the first one in line, and if there is one left of anything I will not eat it. These are the unspoken but real rules of being fat in America. They were created to fight a stereotype which is often perpetuated by the media and TLC.  There is another stereotype that bothers me just as much as the chicken leg gnawing, off-brand Ked wearing, redneck one, and that is the “but she has a pretty face” stereotype.

The “but she has a pretty face” stereotype is what the Dove soap advertising campaign does. The women are lined up next to each other in white panties and bras, and while some of these women are bigger than others, they fall well into the average category. My body is not depicted. If this was truly an ad that was embracing women it would have me, Gabourey Sidibe, and Beth Ditto. Women who are or who have been truly plus sized, and have stretch marks and body flaws. One of my breasts is a cup size larger than the other. My stomach is a mess of stretch marks and my belly button is deep and wide. Tattoos and scars cover my skin. My double chin is near legendary in my mind. In the shower I soap my body and lift my heavy breasts. I open the shower door and prop a leg up on the sink to shave my legs. I lather and watch the puddles form on the bathroom floor. I am too big to shave my legs with the shower door closed. This is me. This is my life as a plus-sized woman. This is the life and body of a real women and not what Dove is trying to sell you.

I am many things, and I will admit that fat is one of them. I am never going to be in a Dove campaign hugged up against other women with a smile on my face. My head will never be thrown back in false glee as a photographer tells me what to do next. Dove is lying to you and selling you a false sense of confidence. They want you to believe that all women are beautiful, but they won’t show you my body, or Gabourey’s body, or Beth’s body. They want to be seen as inclusive but not too inclusive. That is the lie that is being sold.

Check out this article by Erin Keane for more conversation about Dove and their advertising campaigns. http://www.salon.com/2013/04/18/stop_posting_that_dove_ad_real_beauty_campaign_is_not_feminist/