doubleslash

// - The Physical

Now he worships at an altar of a stagnant pool
And when he sees his reflection, he's fulfilled


The last art project I worked on in school was a pastiche, or a copy, of Carravagio's Narcissus. I always loved Carravagio, and I always loved Greek and Roman mythological characters, and he is no exception. The man who shunned all love and instead fell for his own reflection. Vanity. All is vanity.

I know a man with a beautiful body. He knows it, but he never exalted himself over anyone when I knew him. His body is a commodity for him now. When I see photos, they feel empty and I wonder if that's just for the camera and if the man I knew is really still there. Certainly he is far from me and I see but a poor reflection. But that's not even my concern, and I have no judgment of him. I only wonder what he sees in his own reflections.

And I reflect as I embark on a journey away from my past.

Ironically, the people with bodies closest to perfection who I know are the ones who see themselves with the most disdain. At least I know I'm not beautiful on the outside. Don't try to argue with me, it will be true whether the optimists make cute little slogans or not. A few voices of reason - no, reality and emotion - can't instill reality in a generation whose every whim is filled at the mercy of the screen.

Day in and day out we look at what seem to us to be beautiful people, and somewhere along the way, the whisper becomes true - if you don't find someone physically attractive, you're just settling for less. If you believe in evolution, it's a handy scapegoat. If you believe in the soul, well, it probably isn't as important as fulfilling some desire set in you not even by your humanity, but by the mass ideal.

Only ugly people say beauty is within. Maybe it's because the truth has set them free. Or maybe they're just hoping someone will see them for a change, not whatever shell they got in the reproductive process, covered in the fat of a world providing them with massive stores of food borderlining poison, wrapped up like a gift in too much packaging - and with the same ironic effect on the body. I hear people saying it's personal choices that create unhealthiness, and it might be so, but among the natural pleasures of life lie the greatest and most deceiving sins.

Sometimes when it's the only pleasure, food becomes the only imperative. It's a vicious cycle indeed, and with precious little help.

I'm not defending a person's right to be fat, by no means. I know there's a good deal of us with enough willpower to make the change despite the odds. I know the health jargon and that it's really true - the body survives much better in balance than in overbalance in any respect. I speak as someone who has lost 40lbs in two years. Of course, barely anyone even noticed because I was too fat to begin with. I peaked weight at 330lbs. I am now 290 and losing. Ideally, I should be around 140-160lbs for my height, or at least some system says so - actually I'm aiming for a bit higher than that. Give me a couple of years, and I will make it there. I'm too active a person and I love healthy food too much to stay this weight much longer. Bring on the dieticians and the plans and the pursuit of happiness in sizes lower than the 20s when I go shopping for stuff to hang on this outer frame.

But since I plan on going that route, I need to be clear about doing it for myself. I'm doing it because I hate feeling tired walking up three flights of stairs. I'm doing it because I want to be able to feel my bones in some places just for the heck of it, I'm doing it so my car won't squeak when I sit in it, so airplanes and stadiums and washrooms won't feel so claustrophobic. Geez, I'm already left handed, it's patently obvious at every turn that this world isn't built for me, so I'll change for myself so I feel more at home in it, and in this body.

This body that doesn't look like me at all.

But right now, for the next few months, I'm still going to be one epithet or another, even to people on the street. A cow. A monster. A blob. A lard-bucket. An elephant. A butterball. There's a thousand names to call someone with a little extra blubber under their hide. And the worst part is that by the time these words reach the ears of the population they apply to, those people have such terrible self-esteem that they cower and nod their heads sadly. Yes, they think, I am an animal. I am just a lower life form then the rest of these people.

So convenient, really, that a person can be a loser all their life and keep every pound.

But how much of this body was really my fault directly? I didn't ask to be born into a family built like workhorses, though the ability to lift 50lbs and reach top shelves is nice. Sure I put hand to mouth, and there's a lot of personal responsibility in a case like mine. But a whole lot of my extra pounds come out of emotional issues from my family life, out of a genuine love for food, out of insecurity, out of unhealthy behaviours that I at the age of 18 began to understand but still didn't have a clue what to do with. And nobody really offered me a plan or a way out. They offered me marketing schemes that told me there was only one ideal, one I could never aspire towards. I tried losing weight for sports, and it didn't last. I tried losing weight for myself, but I didn't have any self-esteem because nobody in my family could have taught me that and nobody else singled me out to really try. So that failed miserably.

I tried losing weight for the dating world, but dozens of women told me it wasn't an issue, that when someone came along, they'd just magically see right past the weight to who I really was. Excuses, excuses, and then just lies... Who were they trying to kid anyway? That doesn't actually happen to most people. There's some I know who are really blessed to have found it, but it's few and far between. And the thing is, I'd turn me down. I'd be a hypocrite to look down on someone for doing it, because from all angles on the fleshy side of things, I'm unattractive, and self-aware. And yet I still suffer for it. Because no matter if it's my fault or not, life just isn't fair.

EDIT: I was wrong. So wrong. I found someone who loves me the way I am, but wants me to change for my health. Soon. Soon.

There wasn't once in my entire adolescence when a man vaguely my age looked at me lustfully. Sure, some people might consider that a good thing, but the thing was, they didn't look at me at all. I was invisible. Just a reflection. I could have been the most talented woman on earth. I could have been a nymphomaniac for all they cared. No, the only problem was something I could barely combat even in the smallest ways.

And so I keep on fighting a battle that I was born to, just like all of us are born to one battle or another. A battle of will and strenght and self-esteem, against a thousand advertisements, the shelves of every supermarket, the descriptive words of a menu and smells of a restaurant, against the moment I've had a stressful day and there's no better way to end it than by a supper that I appreciate but is invariably huge and practically irresistable after a long, hard day.

And in between all these moments lie the scarier ones. The one when I was 17 and looked into a toilet for 15 minutes wishing it were easier for me to throw up. The hundred days I've stared at my full reflection in the mirror after a morning shower, watching my face become grim until I eventually just turned away. The day I stood on a bridge and laughed a wry laugh before walking again -  thinking it would be very hard to drown because I float too well.

The sad truth is that nobody really wants anyone for who they are. We all want someone for who they have the potential to be in our dreams. Some dreams are just thinner than others, I guess. Even mine.


(1) - [The Beginning, the Story of Doubleslash] (2) - [The Dream] (3) - [Non-Existence] (4) - [Heterodox] (5) - [Forgotten] (6) - [Know Your Enemy] (7) - [Junkies] (8) - [Descent into Blindness] (9) - [Speaker for the Dead] (10) - [The System is Down] (11) - [Inequality] (12) – [Heterodox Revisited] (13) - [The Unsustainable] (14) - [All the Zeros in Zimbabwe] (15) - [Bullets] (16) - [Balancing Act 1 (Merely Players)] (17) - [The Physical]
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This is beautifully (and painfully) written. Very true. I've always been freakishly tall, and I've always been overweight. Even when I was 5, I towered over my peers, and was teased about being big. I grew up wanting to be invisible, but that's impossible when you're 13 and six feet tall. I was painfully shy, apart from the few close friends around whom I was completely open. In high school, my friends all had boyfriends, and I had no idea what that might be like. I was scared of boys, and it wasn't cool to date someone who was tall and not thin.

When I was 20, I had a similar moment locked in the toilet, wishing I could throw up after eating a particularly large meal. I felt so disconnected from my body, like I was a tiny pilot in this huge robot, seeing through the robot's eyes. Then I found a 12 step program for overeaters, and I was home. Overnight, I stopped overeating. I attended meetings, I developed friendships with others who understood the compulsion, and I lost nearly 100 lbs in a year. I went from being invisible to being traditionally beautiful very quickly. I couldn't go anywhere without men approaching me. I remember once when I was sitting in a Subway restaurant, minding my own business. A guy around my age came up to me and told me that I was the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen. And this happened almost everywhere I went. Going from invisible to impossible to miss was hard. I resented that people could ONLY see my exterior, and they didn't know "me" at all. It annoyed me that they were complimenting my appearance, which is something I had absolutely no control over, and didn't know anything about my interests or talents I'd developed. I went from zero dates to more than I could count, none lasting for more than a few weeks.

I wasn't formally introduced to Frank (we met at work) until I was thinner. After we'd been dating for awhile, he told me that he remembered me well from before I lost the weight. He used to look for me when I'd leave work, and he said that I often looked sad and uncomfortable, like I was trying to hide. He'd vaguely daydream about what life would be like if he were with the sad girl at work, and wondered what my life was like, why I was sad. It means a lot to me that he knew me before, and he's always seen "me," not just the thin me or the fat me.

I ended up bulimic at the end of my thinner days, right before I started dating Frank. I went through treatment, and realized that I was restricting way too much (hence the rapid loss). Over the last 7 years, I've been regaining the weight that I lost. Even though I'm not completely happy with my appearance now, I don't feel like it defines me anymore. I don't feel invisible. The older that I get, the less I care. But at the same time, I have that luxury because I have a partner who sees me for me. I know I would feel so much differently if I were single again. And it's completely unfair.
Thank you so much for sharing your story with me. I think I'll manage not to be bulimic, but it will take a lot of work to stop from binge eating once I get this show on the road. I will hopefully find a good support network in my city.

I am rather afraid that same scenario will happen to me - becoming beautiful and being bitter about the consequences of people seeing me entirely differently. At least being this weight has been a good filter so far.
I hate numbers. I stopped going by them. At your height your "ideal weight" should be 140-160? *I'm* about 140. You're easily 5-6 inches taller than me. Technically, I am overweight. I think I've got a good body. Go by how you feel, not by what the scale reads. Please. I hate being defined by a number.
I hate numbers too. I'm actually aiming for 190 over the next year and a half or so, if that makes you feel better. I'll see how I feel from there. I will never be "thin" and I'm okay with that, just somewhere around normal for my body type is what I'm aiming for.
By the way, I've always kind of hated the Body Mass Index system, because it's much too Universal and doesn't take body types into account - namely those of us who have naturally curvier bodies rather than naturally stick-like bodies. There's some people who are stick thin and cannot gain weight and that's their normal. They might be "underweight" according to the system, but their body equilibrium is fine. I think the same is to be said of overweight bodies. If whatever weight I happily land at is still overweight by technical standards, I really don't care.
I tried losing weight for the dating world, but dozens of women told me it wasn't an issue, that when someone came along, they'd just magically see right past the weight to who I really was. Excuses, excuses, and then just lies... Who were they trying to kid anyway?

I'm always kind of torn about how I feel with regards to having extra weight and the dating world. I've gained a lot of weight in the past 4 or so years. I was a US size 6 and now I'm a 16 (and my extended family gets at me about it constantly), and my goal is to get down to an 8. There's a part of me who wouldn't want to attract someone who would only be attracted to me if I lost the 50-70 pounds. At the same time, I know that's not how the world works.
There's a part of me who wouldn't want to attract someone who would only be attracted to me if I lost the 50-70 pounds. At the same time, I know that's not how the world works.

That pretty much sums it up.
I love this post. I want to comment on it in depth when I am not unconscious.

But just so you know, I am bulimic. And it is freakishly hard to stop.
Conscious!
covered in the fat of a world providing them with massive stores of food borderlining poison, wrapped up like a gift in too much packaging - and with the same ironic effect on the body.

I love this. And so true. What is IN Twinkies, anyway? I've been trying to cut back on the processed food lately, but sometimes oh I just want cookies that have god-knows-what in the filling. The other day I bought a box of Oatmeal Creme Pies and after eating one decided they were laced with cocaine. Then I ate the rest of the box.

Sometimes when it's the only pleasure, food becomes the only imperative.

Also true. And for me, as a bulimic, it's one of the ways I can control what is going on in my life. Sure, I can eat that - but I have to get rid of it after. I have precious little control over anything else in my life, so bulimia has taken over. Also a vicious cycle.

But since I plan on going that route, I need to be clear about doing it for myself. I'm doing it because I hate feeling tired walking up three flights of stairs. I'm doing it because I want to be able to feel my bones in some places just for the heck of it, I'm doing it so my car won't squeak when I sit in it, so airplanes and stadiums and washrooms won't feel so claustrophobic.

Good for you! I'm doing it for me too. I'm especially sick of having panic attacks whenever anyone walks down the aisle on an airplane. I'm tired of being tired. I'm tired of staring at myself sadly in the mirror thinking "I would be so pretty..." Tired of not fitting. I want to FIT.

There's some I know who are really blessed to have found it, but it's few and far between. And the thing is, I'd turn me down.

I'm one of the lucky ones. Nate met me when I was 270 lbs and we started dating when I was around 250. I just kept losing weight because I kept throwing it all up. After we married I've gained back the weight I lost plus some and am losing it again - but he still tells me I'm beautiful. It DOES happen. But I'm not forgetting how lucky I am that it happened to me.

I'd turn me down too, personally.

There wasn't once in my entire adolescence when a man vaguely my age looked at me lustfully.

I knowww. Me neither, and it hurt.

The day I stood on a bridge and laughed a wry laugh before walking again - thinking it would be very hard to drown because I float too well.

HA. I was just thinking about this point on Friday because I was trying to relax in the hot tub but I kept floating to the top. It was very sad.

Some dreams are just thinner than others, I guess

I might have to steal this line.

I want you to know that I'm here for you. I haven't commented much on your entries lately but I read all of them and think about you often. I guess I don't really have a lot to say, other than I understand and I'm in the same boat. After a weekend of serious binging, I'm more ready than ever to get back on the wagon.
Re: Conscious!
I'd love to be health buddies with you. Thanks for your concern, and know that it is returned. I really enjoy our friendship and I think we both have the potential to be a lot happier with ourselves.
Re: Conscious!
Also. I've never thought about food as a control thing, but having examined your comment one more time, I had a lightbulb moment about that as a motivation...