Tag Archives: sexuality

On fat-positivity, body image, and self-driven notions of shame

I’ve written before about boo-hoo, I was a fat kid, and boo-hoo, I was bulimic and my fat parents didn’t notice and I had to figure it out for myself and did and boo-hoo, I’ve always had issues with weight that continue, though the last couple of years I’ve steadied out (along with my current mood stabilizer, no coincidence, I think) into a weight range with which I’m mostly comfortable.

Given that I am 1) 38, 2) essentially lazy except when it comes to doing something with purpose like cleaning the yard or taking a photo walk or setting out stock, 3) allergic and/or metabollically intolerant of sugar, wheat, and carbs so that a plant and protein diet is pretty much the only thing that keeps me in the healthy range for my height, you’d think that I’d have found comfort with the way that I look.

In abstract ways, I have.  I know I’m not ugly.  I actually broke up with a friend who constantly engaged in negative, self-hating behavior and not only wouldn’t accept my praise and reassurance but got angry at me and told me I was nuts, multiple times, when I said she was good-looking (because being alone = ugly), because I’ve had enough criticism and self-hate around and even though hers isn’t directed at me I can’t participate passively in her hating herself.  (I did write her a note and say I was sorry and try to explain the particular whys.)  But I still get upset and flustered when someone flirts with me.  I still get defensive when my (fat) father criticizes how short I cut my hair or how “plain” I wear my clothes.  And I do start to freak out when my body starts to push at the envelope of the sizes I’m comfortable owning, having gotten rid of the clothes that were bigger than I want to allow myself to get ever again, at which point it’s back to cheese sticks and hard boiled eggs for breakfast, black coffee, seltzer to drink, salads with chicken and more and more salads with protein until that 10 lbs. comes off.

In abstract and also specific ways that have nothing to do with me, I will defend anyone else’s bodily shape until everyone else backs the fuck down.  The curvy ladies at work get complimented by me when they rock it, because what’s attractive is self-esteem and a sense of Go Get It, Girl.  The same goes for anyone who’s thin but who’s self-possessed & all that.  People’s definitions of “healthy” vary, and what’s attractive to me, what makes me compliment someone was a sense of– they’re taking care of themselves.  That’s not measured only in weight.

However.

Back to me. (This is a personal blog.)

I was reading something the other day for a friend, proofreading, in fact, and this friend writes, ahem, steamy things.  I am pretty sanguine about all kinds of things, so I stick to grammar and realism assessments, note where something is being really trite or trope-ridden or full of plotholes, indicate whether something seems anatomically possible and most of the time, don’t care about the particular kink because eh, it’s a spare income.

This, however, was the first time this person had written a chubby!kink, which, if you’re not aware, involves one person being sexually attracted to someone else because they’re overweight, and in extreme cases (wikipedia is always your friend) encouraging the weight gain by feeding the object of desire. Apparently some of the tropes in chubby!kink erotica include issues of body-shaming, humiliation kinks, fat-positivity and self-love, and how sometimes all these things uncomfortably co-exist in one relationship, because pro tip: erotica is popular because it highlights something most people don’t want to admit: feelings are messy.

I got maybe a page into the feelings of the person sexually admiring the chubby!beloved and just– nope.  Nope.  Nope.  I hit save and backed the hell out of the document and there it has stayed on my Google Drive, a shut and half-finished editing job that testifies to the fact that apparently, my own thoughts about me being desirable if I’m not trim & thin are more complicated and less “I LOVE ALL MY FLAWS” than I’d thought.  It’s all hypothetical, since of course I’m not even divorced yet (need to get on that) and not contemplating dating anyone else, nor has anyone asked, but the mere thought of relating emotionally to a piece of fiction that had a sexually attractive fat person as a subject had me backtracking so fast I might as well have thrown my laptop across the room, for how mature my reaction was.

And then of course we were eating supper a few hours later and my dad kvetched about how I didn’t finish all of my supper.  I did tell him to fuck off, in not so many words.

I have a hard enough time finding time to eat lunch when I’m at work, because 1) it’s busy 2) it’s busy 3) I’m a workaholic 4) I don’t want my leftovers that are healthy but I shouldn’t go downstairs to buy delicious, fatty pizza 5) I’m cranky because I didn’t even get to finish my breakfast, it’s been so busy– and then I wonder why I feel so wiped out and why I feel so much better when I come home and make a protein & vegetable supper that I eat a TON of, but it’s full of salad and medium-rare cooked meat and enough fat and lots of seasonings and crunchy nuts and bits of minerally green things and it’s the first time I feel human all day.

It’s enough, in light of the surprising reaction to a kink that won’t ever be mine, to make myself think:  am I really alright with the way that I look right now?  Or am I still punishing myself, somehow?  And if so, for what?

I expect the answer is the same-old, same old (you’re alone, you’re unloveable, you’re unlovely, don’t make yourself even more unloveable = fat = ugly) but it’s funny (peculiar, not funny ha-ha) to note, after all of this time, that maybe I don’t think I’m alright after all.

 

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Allowing for feelings…

I’m in a weird mood, and I have a mish-mash of things I want to rant/write about, but I don’t know that I will, other than making a fairly curtailed list, each of which could be an epic whining post of great whinging.

I don’t want to feel grateful for something someone did for me that I never asked them to do– or that I specifically told them to no longer worry about, especially when they did it out of guilt or their own sense of unfinished business, however they might define it.  I don’t want a gift forced on me that I never asked for, not when I was working on figuring out how to do the thing for myself.  I know that it’s a stupid fuss to make, to feel it an imposition, rather than to just allow this person to do the thing (if it even comes from amends), but I also feel like I’ve made it really clear in this phase of my life that the subtitle to this section of my memoir is subtitled: No, really, fuck you.  I’m going to do it myself because I am smart and motivated (read, not suicidal) enough to figure this out.

I wish I wasn’t so angry that any gift or offer of help felt like an accusation that I was a failure, incompetent, fragile.

I’d like to recognize if someone was flirting with me.  I know part of this is getting back on the bike, but the rest of me knows that I just– can’t believe I’m attractive, not after not being wanted that way for so very long.  I want to know that I’m wanted.  That I’m want-able.  Love-able, too, even if I’m ten miles from ready.

I want to learn to just be grateful and not to feel startled, embarrassed or ashamed when someone at my new job (again) says I’m doing a great job at X/Y/Z just my job, even when 1) I know that it’s partly the work culture that promotes the expressions of praise, 2) that I am good at my job, 3) that I deserved to hear it all along whether I worked some place or lived with and befriended people who should have been expressing it long before now, 4) I want to learn to say thank you and not be flustered, because I feel like it’s as plain as the shock in my heart that it’s not something I’m used to, and I don’t want to walk around forever with “Kicked Puppy, Please Pet” written on my forehead.  (I want to not have to archive the emails reflecting these praises and then pulling them out after I’ve had a shit day, just because I need to know that somewhere, someone thinks I’m of use.)

I want to be friends with people who follow up invites, one way or the other, or at least drop a line to say they’re flaking out.  I want to learn to let go when this doesn’t happen, and to not blame myself for maybe something I’ve done.  I want to try to reach out enough to feel satisfied that I tried, but not so much that I feel like a doormat.  I want to learn where that doormat line lies.  I want to learn to let people come and go as they need to, to not harbor anger about that, to not rely too much on anyone one person so that their loss is a shattering thing (been there, done that, husband, college best friend, maybe some more pending, we’ll see) to not feel like I’m being needy or clingy, but also to feel like I’m standing up for myself and saying– you know what?  I’m going to go associate with some folks who do have time for me, even if we’ve had a good, a great run even– because they may not be you, but at least they’re around when it counts.  They’re curious.

We all need to love and be loved.  Somehow.  Even in the smallest of possible ways.

I want to be brave enough after all the brave shit I’ve done– quit doing a job that I hated, did something new until I wasn’t just treading water, got out of that, found something I loved, learned to say what I needed and then walked away (though not without too much looking back, but I think I’d rather suffer regret than run the risk of becoming callous), learned to say no to things that hurt me, learned to say yes to things that pleased me, learned to turn aside from callousness and self-interest directed only at others’ self-absorption– to keep learning these things, to not lose strength, to not feel worn out, to not feel like even though I am still redefining who I am, what I want, what I expect from myself and the people I am willing to continue to know.

I want, sometimes, to not have to be brave– even though I knowingly walked away from a situation where I thought I didn’t have to, all of the time, only to find out that wasn’t the truth.  I want to learn to embrace the truth that it’s okay and I’ll live and learn to live with the fact that in the end, we all always have to take care of ourselves, because no matter how hard we cry or plead or try to spell things out for others, in the end, we, alone, have to decide.   I would still like a vacation from having to decide.

There are times when I would like someone to wave a magic wand and make my mother and all my memories off her fuzz, gently, and that I would fuzz out of her mind so that I didn’t have to talk to her at all anymore.  I can’t bring myself to cut her off again because that would be consciously cruel, even though she’s oblivious as ever as to the narcissistic harm she causes, but I would like to … stop being part of her self-reflexive calculus of worth, so I don’t have to deal with her slights and her obtuseness, and could get on with reconstructing a self that will always be shaped by a mother’s neglect, but which can maybe have a little time to recover from the continuous dents she puts in my armor from dealing with her.

I would like my father to pay attention long enough to the things that drive me truly batshit to keep his mouth shut about my 1) driving, 2) not wearing slippers, 3) not doing things the way he would have done, 4) any other critical thing that comes out of his mouth, because– parents?  I’m not you.  And guess what?  You failed.  Stop projecting your unfulfilled wishes on me.  I’ve got enough of my own to bring into better alignment.  I don’t want yours, too, no matter they come from a place of good intentions.

I would like to stop being so fucking introverted, agoraphobic, and gun-shy about relationships outside the internet, and inside it, too.

I would like to finish some projects.

I would like to be perceived as creative.

I would like to stop having so many (too many) feelings.  I would like for these feelings to stop bogging me down, suffocating my throat, blinding my eyes, making me twitch and dream anxiety dreams and feel paranoid about people who have sticks up their butts and aren’t worth thinking about because if they have a problem but won’t come out and say so, then screw them, stupid sonsofbitches, I’m pretty badass, crazy or not.

I would like to actually believe that last bit.  I’d settle for even most (not all) of the time.

I’d like to not be staving off tears as I write this, because even after all this brave shit and all these fucking feelings I’ve done things to acknowledge these last couple of years, I still hate to cry, and I still suppress things rather than just having a sobfest.  I think I don’t sob because there’s no one to hold me, and also because I would probably punch/hate/resent anyone who told me things would be okay or who just patted my back and said there, fucking there.  Things won’t be okay, not forever.  Life isn’t like that.

I’d like to just suck that bit up and move on.

Armor, costume, mirror?

I got rid of most of my suits when I stopped being a lawyer.  First, I’d lost so much weight they didn’t fit anymore, but second– I didn’t want to be that person, whoever she was, any longer. I knew I wouldn’t go back.  There was no point in hanging on to the accoutrements to that profession, not once I knew I was done.

I got rid of more clothes when I left my husband– more on the “I haven’t worn this in a while/it no longer fits” basis, at least, that’s what I think I did (mostly).  I did just shove my wedding dress deep into a rubbermaid box, with a “No,  nope, not going to deal with it now.”  I’ve left it there, still.

I bought a corset and an antique kimono not long after, and while I don’t wear them, often, they’re aspirational clothes.  I’ll wear them, someday.

I have a few sexy or form-fitting clothes I wore from before that I’ve kept, that I’ve worn, that I’ve been admired in, and I have no qualms about wearing them.  Still.  There’s no baggage attached to them, ha ha.

Now, though, I’m unpacking spring’s clothes and I’ve got these two pair of silky pajamas, ones that for whatever reason I’ve come to associate with my husband– or with the absence of him, while we were married, in bed, in his not coming to bed at the same time as me, in our sex life and lack of as our marriage progressed.  I don’t know why I associate those particular items with him, because I think I actually owned them before we got together– but the fact is, I do.  I associate them and their silky feeling with– the feeling, whether he meant to convey it or not, of me being the only person touching myself, or of him admiring their feel and nothing more.  That I, under the clothes, was not admirable.  Touch-worthy.

I can’t decide now if I want to go to the bother of reclaiming the clothing (and what’s underneath?).  Someone else won’t recall the same taint, and my flannels (not associated with him, though bought at his urging, isn’t memory strange?), put away until next fall, can leave me head-room for cotton tshirts and shorts, room for me in my own skin until something else, something new comes along– even if it’s just me, figuring out a different different costume– one that mirrors what I want to feel, not what I think I’m reflecting from somebody else.