Submitted by megan on Thu, 07/17/2008 - 17:41
What would be nice would be to go swimming this summer. I would like to take a book, wrap up some food, pour some white wine sangria into a juice bottle, bike to Britannia under the sun and wind. Once there, I would like to sit under a tree and read, runnning off into the water for a paddle and float whene'er the mood struck.
Before last night, I had two bathing suits with which to do this.
One from six years ago: bright yellow bottoms and a black sports bra. I associate it strongly with falling in love with Mike. The yellow is a terrible colour for my skin, and I must have been in a very thin phase when I bought that bra, because now when I wear it my cleavage gets uncomfortably and unsexily hot.
The other suit is a crazy 1950s number with nice shorts and a waistline that suits me, but a ginormous boob cavern that does not. Not that this matters particularly, since the suit is structured such that it stands up on its own. It feels weird to wear a bathing suit that moves a half second after you do.
The Committee of Necessity deemed a new suit an acceptable purchase. Those two are both in the thrift store pile.
I made a date with Shelley to hit the mall.
Our first stop was American Apparel. As I was picking suits out, it hit me that I'm over my post-gain body malaise.
"What are you looking for?" Shelley said. I'd practically begged her to come shopping with me, making half-jokes about needing someone to pass tissues over the door when I started to cry. "A one-piece?"
"Nah. A two-piece."
"Like with a tank top? Boy cuts?"
"Nope, bikini top. Boy cuts, preferably, but regular bottoms if there aren't any ones I like."
She raised her eyebrows a bit at me. "A bikini, then?"
"Yes, a bikini."
Rather a brave choice for someone professed to be worried about bursting into tears in the change room.
But there it was. That's what I wanted.
Shelley and I were in and out of a whack of change rooms, bottoms and tops slithering over benches and chairs and floors. Normally I am scrupulous about re-hanging clothes neatly. But these bits were all so fussy and complicated I didn't have the patience. I'd just gather them all up in the crook of my arm and dump them on the nearest flat object, feeling guilty about the clerks' work as I did so.
I did find a bikini, with sequins and hibiscus and little ties at the side. That one I handed over neatly for the clerk to put aside.
Why you should take a friend bathing suit shopping? Because not only might she say "Right now, that ass can do no wrong," she might also keep you from spending too long in front of the mirror. I wanted to look at a lot of different options. So each time it was on with the suit, look over the shoulder, straight on, to the side, oops, don't do that again, back to the front, another over the shoulder, "is it okay? the colour? how does my ass look? i like that it doesn't bite in here. are you sure it looks okay?"
Every time I spent more than a few minutes in a single suit, twisting from angle to angle, I started picking out my flaws. I could catalogue those for you too quickly, but repeating them would only make them more true.
When there's someone else around, that kind of self-hatred becomes self-indulgent real fast.
I start in with the nits and the picking. Shelley might wander back from the front of the store, or I'd become conscious that I'd been staring at myself for too long and I'd snap out of my hateful fugue and say "No." or "This one's a maybe." or, eventually, "That brown one's the best."
The body-comfort still feels new. Dragging Shelley around allowed me to keep it alive, since it's still too weak to breathe on its own.
Late last summer, you might remember that Eric and I had some kind of stomach disgruntlement whilst on vacation. I lost probably 7 or 8 pounds, dropping me under 120.
I spent last fall mildly unhappy, tightly wound, and very worried that my boyfriend was falling out of love with me. When I'm that wound and worried, I can't gain weight, no matter how much oil I cook with, no matter the cookies I stuff into my maw. I didn't lose much more weight, but by the time Eric and I broke up, I was down to about 116.
I've said it before, and will probably have reason to say it again: when I'm that thin, I'm not at my healthiest; when I'm that thin, I'm not at my most attractive; when I'm that thin, I get a lot of societal approval for being that thin.
The approval comes in subtle clues I won't take the time to catalogue here. It comes from pop culture, from friends, acquaintances. It's pervasive and deep-seated.
When I start gaining weight, when I get happy, when the amount of food I've been eating to maintain my thin weight stretches my skin out to its big size overnight, I always have a period of mourning: the loss of my old skinny jeans; having a body something like what people are told they want. Even if they don't actually want it, even if they find it's thinness unattractive.
Each time I've gained weight - this time about 12 or 14 lbs, depending on the time of day - I go through this dissatisfaction. It's crazy, because I look at the bodies that I'm attracted to, and while some of them are very thin, some of them are not. Some of them are round and luscious and belly-lovely. So why I mourn the loss of something that was thrust upon me by random bacteria and sadness is hard to fathom.
Each time, the layer of dissatisfaction peels off and I come out feeling not just heavier. Weightier. More connected; more here; more willing to be here. Happy to take up the space my well-being needs.