Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Must Read: The Fantasy of Being Thin

I read this post, The Fantasy of Being Thin, over on Kate Harding's site today, while I was sitting at my desk, eating my lunch at work. I actually cried a little just because the whole post, and the comments, were so spot on. You really should read the whole thing, but I'm cutting and pasting the bit that hit me the hardest.

"Overcoming The Fantasy of Being Thin might be the hardest part of making it all the way into fat acceptance-land. And that might just be why I’d pushed that part of the process out of my memory: it fucking sucked. Because I didn’t just have to accept the size of my thighs; I had to accept who I am, rather than continuing to wait until I magically became the person I’d always imagined being. Ouch.

That is, of course, a pretty normal part of getting older. You start to realize that yeah, this actually is it, and although you can still try enough new things to keep anyone busy for two lifetimes, you’re pretty much stuck with a basic context. There are skills, experiences, and material things you will almost certainly never have, period. It’s a challenge for all of us to understand that accepting this fact of life does not necessarily mean cutting off options or giving up dreams, but simply — as in the proverbial story about the creation of the David — chipping away all that is not you. But for a fat person, it can be even harder, because so many fucking sources encourage us to believe that inside every one of us is “a thin person waiting to get out” — and that thin person is SO MUCH COOLER.

The reality is, I will never be the kind of person who thinks roughing it in Tibet sounds like a hoot; give me a decent hotel in London any day. I will probably never learn to waterski well, or snow ski at all, or do a back handspring. I can be outgoing and charismatic in small doses, but I will always then need time to recharge my batteries with the dogs and a good book; I’ll never be someone with a chock-full social calendar, because I would find that unbearably exhausting. (And no matter how well I’ve learned to fake it — and thus how much this surprises some people who know me — new social situations will most likely always intimidate the crap out of me.) I might learn to speak one foreign language fluently over the course of my life, but probably not five. I will never publish a novel until I finish writing one. I will always have to be aware of my natural tendency toward depression and might always have to medicate it. Smart money says I am never going to chuck city life to buy an alpaca farm or start a new career as a river guide. And my chances of marrying George Clooney are very, very slim.

None of that is because I’m fat. It’s because I’m me.

But when I was invested in The Fantasy of Being Thin, I really believed that changing this one “simple” (ha!) thing would unlock a whole new identity — this totally fabulous, free-spirited, try-anything-once kind of chick who was effortlessly a magnet for interesting people and experiences. "

Sigh. I still believe that someday I am going to be SO FUCKING COOL. Thin and cool, or fat and cool, but cool nonetheless. When I get that [insert whatever it is that I need right now -- job, shoes, weight], I'm going to be so goddamn cool, you're totally going to dye your hair red, buy a pair of green glasses, and Single White Female me.


brian said...

This is cold comfort coming from your nerdy younger brother, I'm sure, but you've been my working definition of "so fucking cool" for,um, about 20 years.

Anonymous said...

I don't think it counts if you're related. ;-)

But in the spirit of "working on my issues" (i.e. not being so mean about me), I say thank you.