I Am That Girl Now

Friday, June 01, 2007

Gotta write this down before I go to bed

I keep running into things today that I want to share with you guys.

1) We threw the inflatable kayak in the trunk of our car after work, along with our life vests, and went to the lake. Lake Michigan. As my Hub intoned, "the big lake they call Gitchi Gumee". Granted, we were just in the harbor, but I felt very small and ridiculous, trying to face such a big expanse of water with a little boat made mostly of air.

I got kind of freaked out very quickly, because my instinct was to paddle around in very shallow water, whereas my Hub decided immediately to strike out across the water toward a buoy. For a while, neither of us got our way, because it turned out that we had the seats in the kayak backward and were also holding the paddles upside down (two realizations which led to a lot of thrashing about and quite a few uncomfortable moments where I thought I was going to end up being pitched into the water), but eventually we got it all hashed out. There as still quite a lot of going in small circles and accidentally smacking each other with paddles or splashing each other with water, though. And I promptly decided that okay, I was done now, I had had enough of being uncomfortable and off-balance (lordy, what a core workout) and being nervous that we were going to be yelled at (again) by lifeguards at the swimming beach (which, apparently, we were way too close to), and being anxious about the possibility of falling into the drink (and yeah, we had life vests on, but I would get WET and COLD), and mostly being generally anxious about trying a new thing and not knowing how to do it right and not being very good at it. Oh, and because I was stuck out there, because my Hub was having a really good time and had no intentions of going back to shore.

As I told my sister tonight, it quickly turned into a hilarious metaphor for our marriage. Remember my use of paddling on the water as a good description of what can and can't be controlled in life? Well, I forgot about the other person in the boat, which is a very big thing. Sure, the water has the most influence on what's going on, but if you can't get the other person in the boat to agree on a direction or figure out how to paddle together, this is a doomed enterprise. I would love to have a video of the two of us squabbling and shrieking and laughing in that boat tonight; it's us in a nutshell, particularly because we finally did get it all figured out and managed forward motion in a more-or-less straight line. Because my Hub talked me through my nerves and was smart enough to keep me out in the boat until I started having a good time in spite of myself. Because I realized that I was going to be out on the water for a while, and I realized that I could either do my deep breathing and get around to enjoying this thing that I'd been looking forward to for weeks, or I could freeze up and freak out and weep and have a miserable time and fuck up our brand new hobby. Because we argued and flailed about with our paddles in a very unprofessional manner and ended up having a whale of a good time.

I just-- wow. It was phenomenal. I was scared of it and I did it anyway, and it was great.

2) Talked to my sister on the phone tonight and not only has she heard of Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters, but when she found out that I had the book, she squawked in delight and demanded that I tell her all about it when it's done. I should mention that my sister has always been the overachiever in our family; the skinny one, the runner, the vegetarian, the straight-A student, the one with the full-ride scholarships and the overwhelming amount of bad-assed determination. I was completely baffled that she'd heard of this book, let alone that she'd want to read it, because... well, she's skinny.

Yeah, okay, I'm kind of a dope. More on that when I talk about the book.

Still, it was fascinating to realize that we have a whole big batch of knowledge in common on body issues; she's come across this stuff when it drifts up against her main field of study in grad school, while I've done it purely because, well, I gotta figure out how to get my brain screwed on straight. We started swapping information we'd read in articles and encountered in our own lives, like how she's heard about men having a false idea of the male ideal body and how more and more boys are working out compulsively and taking steroids just to look like that, while I've got this information secondhand from my Hub from the guys he talks to online and the general knowledge in their community about how steroids work (even if they don't act on it, they seem to know, just like all women seem to know how eating disorders work even if we don't have them). We've both seen the thing in Jane where they'd discovered that 75% of women are unhappy with what their breasts look like, and they suspected that it's because most of the time the only thing we see are "perfect" breasts on TV and movies and whatnot, so they had readers send in boob shots. It's an amazing thing to see, because I didn't really realize how ingrained the "perfect" look had gotten in my brain until I saw picture after picture of these normal, imperfect boobs, all different, one after another after another, and it's like something went sproing! in my head.

It really made me realize something. We all talk about how the airbrushed, impossibly thin, impossibly primped women in the media are fucking with our ability to recognize our own bodies as normal, but it wasn't until I saw that parade of boobs that it really hit me just how much it had messed with my head. I mean, I'm a smart woman. I'm an educated woman. I know the tricks the media plays. For some reason, I thought that this meant that while I was affected by this stuff, I wasn't really affected by it.

WRONG!

Go back to the Dove ads that were so screamingly controversial last summer (or was that the summer before?): normal women of various imperfect body types, proud and happy and posing in their undies. I still remember that my first thought when I saw those ads was OH MY GOD FAT, and that it took me a second to realize that, no, these women looked like the women I saw on the street, in the office, in my family; these are perfectly healthy women who just don't happen to be a size zero, and who are too tall or too short and have big hips and narrow shoulders and too-small or too-big boobs, who have a normal amount of fat stored in their rear ends, whose torsos are too short or too long, whose thighs and calves don't match up.

Every once in a while I really need to go back and remember: yeah, this affects me. It affects me right now.

3) I have started reading Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters, have made it to chapter 3 and have wept all over the place. Oh my God, you guys. It's all of us. It's all of us. There's this dichotomy that's been put up between the skinny girls and the fat girls-- the dichotomy that made me surprised that my sister had ever heard of this book, let alone would be interested in reading it-- but it's not there, it's fake, we're all the same. I'm seeing myself in here, and I'm seeing my sister. I always thought that she escaped all of this, that I was the one it happened to, but-- she's just showing it in a different way. None of us learned how to be happy and love ourselves, and we just have to, we really do, or else we are going to continue beating ourselves in hopes that our morale will improve [/USSR].

You have to read this, you guys. You absolutely have to. Put it on your summer reading list. It's one thing to know that the rest of us in the fat-blogosphere know and share certain thoughts and experiences-- realizing that it goes so much further than that is priceless.

I'll write more about it when I finish and am, er, coherent. Don't wait for me, though. Go find this book and read the damn thing.

4) My Hub grabbed my butt this evening while he was hugging me. "God, I love your body," he said happily.

"Me too," I said, and I started laughing because while that wasn't what I meant to say-- it seemed too proud, too inaccurate-- it sure as hell sounded good. "I love my body, too."

4 Comments:

  • Typical man, grabbing your butt! my hubby does it all the time too... but he does not say anything so nice.. while his hand is on me butt anyway! Will try to find that book and check it out.

    By Blogger Chris H, at 4:07 PM  

  • Hi, I just found your blog from Pasta Queen's. I'm so thankful I did. I'm 30 pounds down, with a goal of losing 62 pounds, and I'm already scared of maintenance. Your journey, I hope, will help make mine less traumatic. And your writing is amazing! I can't wait to read all your stuff.

    By Blogger Laura N, at 10:16 PM  

  • oh meg... that last line killed me. brilliant stuff. and glad to hear you made it back to sure ;)

    By Blogger Shauna, at 3:42 AM  

  • Awesome post! I love my wife very, very much. And it's not just girls or women. I look in the mirror, and I hate the way I look, and I'm less than 10 pounds from my goal "ideal" weight. (I used to be 60 pounds heavier.) What then?

    By Blogger Jarrett Meyer, at 3:30 PM  

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