“The men who insist they like girls plump are the ones who prefer cleaning rifles or exchanging jokes in the locker room to flirtation. they aren’t sure of their masculinity and appeal, so a chic, glamorous woman challenges them.” Helen Gurley Brown, Sex and the Single Girl.
I’ve never had a problem staying thin. I come from a slender family, I didn’t drink in college (the easiest way to avoid the Freshman 15) or eat a ton of junk food (although Eeon will testify to my amazing ability to smell a fresh BG’s Pizza from half a campus away) and I’ve had exactly eight McNuggets in the last decade. More importantly, I never uttered the phrase “OMG, I am, like, totes fat” in hopes that people would feel sorry for me.
But after I returned home from AWP, Ian commented that I had put on “noticeable” weight. A trip to the doctor’s confirmed that in the last few months, I’ve packed 10 pounds onto my 5’3″ frame. I almost started to cry.
Maybe this isn’t a big deal. Maybe some of you are saying, “Get over it, Twiggie, and eat a Twinkie.” But like all food-related issues, it goes down to something much, much deeper. For me, it’s a reminder that I’m edging up on 30 and will not always be effortlessly lithe and that’s sort of a drag. But more than that, it’s intricately linked with fears of failure.
I am terrified of being perceived as lazy. My generation is looked down upon by Gen-Xers as being spoiled little marshmallows, and the Baby Boomers that raised us think we’re a bunch of moochers who selfishly want them to give us jobs after college. And worse, we’ve got a squishly little (redacted) like Lena Dunham prancing around pretending to be the “voice” of our generation when really she’s just a rich girl writing in her diary about how hard life is for a girl to make it when her parents gave her everything, like a TV show. Life is TOTES UNFAIR, LENA.
Point is, if you’re not working three jobs eight days a week 24 hours a day, politicians in ugly suits will tell you that you are WORTHLESS SCUMBAGS and FOOD-STAMP GRUBBING WELFARE QUEENS who take the HARD EARNED MONEY (left over from their parent’s fortune) and have A HUNDRED ABORTIONS each. So I work. And I work and I work and I work and at 30 I’m homeless, unmarried and underwater on my student loans.
But with laziness also comes not being beautiful. I know wives who resent their husbands for desiring them and who believe it’s their right to wear nothing but sweatpants and eat bags of chips and watch TV, because that’s what being a woman has become to them. And I always laughed at them, thinking how selfish they were being, because honestly, if you want your husband to not be a fat lazy toad, you can’t be one yourself. I have always tried to dress for every occasion, even if it’s searching around a junkyard, because I hate looking slovenly. Looking nice was a way of telling the world, “I take this seriously.”
But for the first time in my life, I felt a little of that kind of resentment. I was angry, because I too wanted a little space to breathe, to eat, to relax without feeling guilty. I was mad at him for saying something because I wanted to believe that I had earned the right to go a little soft after everything that’s happened in the last few months. I worry that there’s a divide between wanting to be fed and wanting to be loved.
I also have major food issues that I’ve never told anyone about. I do love food, but when I get depressed (usually because I haven’t eaten), it becomes about “deserving” food. I’ve gone hungry more than once. I’ve eaten lunches made up of free samples, but when your choices are pay rent or eat, well, sometimes you have to take the risk that someone else will feed you because no one’s going to pay your rent but you. Or there are days when I get so caught up in work that there isn’t time to eat. I used to work a lot of terrible retail jobs that gave you 15 minutes break for six hours work. I know what it’s like to go hungry, and it’s a raw, brutal fear that burrows into your gut until you feel so sick you can’t eat, even though you know you have to, until the actual act of eating becomes either a forced chore or all-out gluttony as I try and eat as much as I can for fear that there won’t be any tomorrow.
But Ian’s making me lunch now. And I’ll start working out again (Arlene Style!), trying to take time for meals. And maybe somewhere in this mixed-up crazy stunt, I might actually find a way to love myself.
Doubtful, but hey, HGB has a diet where you drink wine and eat steaks, so there’s that to look forward to.