Thursday, January 15, 2009

eat more cake

I was discussing a promised back massage with somebody recently, and she said I would be a good subject for massage study because my muscles and bones have nothing to cloak them. Everything is right there, in the open.

While meeting another person, I mentioned having high metabolism, and she looked me up and down and said "Yeah, I can tell" in this amazingly snarky voice. I felt so... I don't know. Ashamed. Small. Guilty for being skinny when everybody else is so worried about not being skinny.

These two little clips from my week are prompting me to finally write about my relationship with food and my body on here, something that I think I've subconsciously avoided so far. (Unless I didn't, in which case you get to read about it again! Damn my bad memory.) I'm not going to be all sad about it, because I'm not. But whenever people are talking about weight, I feel oddly left out. It's strange to have the opposite problem from the majority of other people.

Those of you who know me (which is most of you, although according to statcounter there may be a few wildcard readers out there. Hi!) know that I'm pretty skinny. To be exact, I'm 5'6" and I weigh about 105 pounds right now, which is slightly on the low side for me; usually, I weigh about 110. (Ironically, the "ideal woman" that you sometimes hear about is supposed to be 5'7" and 110. Also blond. Somehow, I don't think I'm what they have in mind when they say that.) I don't diet, and in fact I eat a ton most of the time because if I don't then I lose weight and it's really hard to gain it back. Or I get cranky and pissy and shaky and perhaps almost pass out. (A year and a half ago I started eating fish again after, following a week where I was constantly hungry no matter how much I ate, I almost bit it in the shower.) I carry trail mix with me everywhere I go. It's extremely lucky that I like to cook so much :)

All of this is fine, but it does put me at odds with most people. Whenever this comes up (and I try to bring it up sometimes because who wants their side of the story to go unrepresented?), somebody inevitably makes a comment about how they wish they had my "problem". Oooh, bitch-slap! No you don't. Culturally, it's far easier to be skinny that to be fat. I know that, and I feel guilty for having a weight problem that is actually coveted by others. (I responded to snarky girl by squeaking "Not on purpose!" She looked a little ashamed, like she'd just figured out that that was a little not nice.) But this is also a big pain in the ass. It's a lot of work to keep enough food around so that I can eat every two hours or whatever. I worry that people think I have an eating disorder. I worry about passing out mid-rehearsal because I can't get to a granola bar.

The thing is, I like my body. I don't know how others see me, but I'm happy with the way I look. (I could do without being able to see every freaking rib I have, but you can't have everything.) On the train the other day, I scribbled this in my notebook: "My body is lacking in artifice." Which is not maybe that profound, but it summed up how I feel pretty effectively. Nothing is hidden. My skeleton, my muscles, my tendons and veins are, to use a perhaps slightly icky term, on display. (I suspect I'm a bit of an exhibitionist at heart.) Maybe I feel this way because society has told me that I should like being viewed, or that I'm somehow automatically sexy because I'm skinny. Whatever. I own my body. We get along. As long as I don't forget the damn trail mix.


ShanaRose said...

This makes me wonder how it feels for you to be ribbed about being skinny by friends; is it easier to shrug it off?
My thinking is this: I've come a long way, in terms of accepting my larger-than-is-the-cultural standard-of-beauty-body, but I would still probably not appreciate too much someone calling me "fatty". I have a good sense of humor, and can take my loved ones' intentions into account, but being called "fat" was something that felt malicious when I was younger, and the sting of it lingered for hours or days.

I wonder now, if skinny girls react the same way. Is being taunted for being skinny just as painful, or not, because of the skew toward desiring or accepting "skinny" as "pretty"?

Did you get teased about it when you were younger?

You obviously still have to cope with negative reactions, from other women, toward your body now. The, seeming, ease with which you happen to possess the coveted thinness, causes jealousy when brought up among people who don't really know you, whereas my thickness tends to be a reassurance to others who need to feel better about themselves via others.

((Raise fat and thin women the same))

justin said...

On the plus side, I eat my cereal with half and half, and have as much bacon and avocados as I like.

On the minus side, only Levi's sells jeans in my size, and apparently only at actual Levi's retail stores and not online (WTF?!). My khakis are custom order and damned expensive.

ammie said...

My reactions definitely depend on the person. I do NOT appreciate snarky comments from strangers, for instance. But I know I'm skinny, and it would be strange to not ever mention that, so as long as I don't feel criticized it's okay. I think that people feel more willing to snark about being skinny; I mean, maybe I'd get similar reactions if I were fat, but it seems like it would at least be at least a little more covert. That snarky girl the other day looked really embarrassed when she realized that she'd been rude. It hadn't occured to her that I would resent her comment about my body.
But no, I didn't get teased about it... I told you the other day that I spent a portion of my childhood truly wishing I was fat :) So that impacts how I react to such comments. There's not that much past trauma, or societal pressure. Mostly I just feel kind of pissed and guilty, but it doesn't make me feel bad about my actual self, my body. It's a more theoretical hurt.

ammie said...

Thanks Justin! That is a plus side. I can indulge my excessive cooking habits to my heart's content. And that's terrible about the pants! I hate clothing makers.

Amanda said...

I too, am something bordering on freakishly skinny, all due to genetics (5'8", 108 lbs), and have been that exact weight for the past decade. However, unlike you, I'm still in the 'working to accept it' stage, because I know that nothing short of getting my DNA twisted around it going to change it. I think one of the reasons (if one actually needs reasons for this sort of thing) that I turned out gay, was frankly, boob envy. Now, oddly enough I tend to be attracted to girls that have a thinner figure like me. (I know this is off the subject, sorry). And while this may be promising that I am coming to accept that I may always be figure-less, according to the news, most of the nation is now obese.

But really, the reason that I chose to respond to this is the utter frustration I feel when people throw the "never trust a skinny chef" thing at me. I'm a pastry chef. Is there something wrong with getting more satisfaction out of other people eating my food, than I would in eating it?