I never cared about my weight until I joined an all-male sport. Like most teenage women, I compared (and compare) how I look to how other women look, wondering if/how they are treated differently because of their shapes. (A friend wrote well about one kind of this woman-policing today). An early version of this internal conversation happened in my high school wrestling room:
Coach K to Solomon [a nearly spherical Junior]: You’ve got to get in shape by December.
Solomon: But Coach, round is a shape!
For those who never wrestled in school, it is a sport where who you compete against is determined by how much you weigh, in increments of between 10 and 15 lbs. What Jezebel would call “body talk” is as normal in wrestling rooms as it is in teenage women’s heads. If you don’t make your assigned weight class (mine was 125 lbs, which required me to loose 15-25 lbs each season since I normally weigh 140-50) you were “fat.” But unlike most women’s body talk, wrestlers would never say “her butt is huge” or “her legs look like sticks” because the point of wrestling is to be strong enough to physically force someone’s shoulders onto a mat while they fight to stop you. Not to be pretty.
I still worried (worry) about my weight. I had to get my wedding dress let out because I gained weight over the summer. Because I was running on a theory that bridezillas are born of 1) sudden onset abstinence, 2) family tensions, and 3) dieting, I refused to be a bridezilla and so I refused to diet. I don’t ever plan on dieting, where dieting is defined as a program of going hungry to force my body to behave a certain way.
Every since I got my period, I can’t force my body to do much. I can work with myself, using my strong biceps and long legs, but I cannot engage in the kind of intestinal warfare which characterizes most diets. I won’t.
This resolve get me part of the way out of my occasional body panics. Reading Stop Hating Your Body gets me the rest of the way out. Stop Hating Your Body is a tumblr dedicated to helping women, and some men, address their body issues by giving them a safe space to post about how they’re overcoming their body-hate. After reading about women who hate their chins/eye-brows/knees/thighs/tummies/lips/hair/skin-color I can see the fail of body talk and am reminded that I want a body I can live in, not that others can look at.
And when all else fails, I’ll try to remember that round is a shape.
“Women should try to increase their size rather than decrease it, because I believe the bigger we are, the more space we’ll take up, and the more we’ll have to be reckoned with.”–Roseanne Barr
PS: I found this quote on a plate I illustrated in middle school. It means a lot more to me now than it did then, because it reminds me that all dieting is is trying to make myself smaller than I’m made. Trying to reduce myself to nothingness. But as I am something. I am made up of something. I should be trying to be as me-shaped as possible rather than someone-else-shaped or nothing-shaped.