Finding myself in the Middle East

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Outside, Inside, Upside down

I was cleaning up after dinner, virtuously ignoring the siren call of the computer with it's shiny, shiny buttons and many, many functions. I thought that I should wipe the fridge down; then I put that thought in a mental file marked "Pesach." Dishes couldn't wait that long, so I started on those. Hands in suds, my thoughts drifted, as they tend to do these days, to the the soldier that my husband and I are praying for. He became critically inured 2 days after we started having him in mind every day, and the war just became so much more real and horrifying to us. And how we both feel that we should have been praying harder, we should have been praying more. Then I felt the waistband of my skirt digging into my skin and I knew that when I took it off I would see those evil red lines and I thought with a surge of misery that no matter how carefully I eat and no matter how much I run, I will never ever get my metobalism and my figure back to the way it was before Coco-pop and Princess were born.

Yeah. It took me a second to be horrified at my thought process, too.

Sometimes, I even believe that I'll think about my body less when I lose twenty pounds. That's how AWESOME my power of lying to myself is. I will also be a more patient mother, loving wife, and even a better babysitter. I will be able to daven better, live better, love better, laugh better.

I can justify it a bit. Even at my thinnest, when I was too thin, it was ridiculously hard for me to find clothing that fits me well. I am tall, with broad shoulders and hips. That's how my bones are built. I didn't believe it, so I checked. Then I went to a wonderful seminary and learned and internalized all about G-d and love and you are worth so much more than just a body and a pretty face and I tucked my bones back in under a layer of flesh. Then I got married and had a couple of the cutest babies in the whole world, and tucked in my bones a little more. (Apparently, as my mother almost triumphantly informs me, the metabolism doesn't like being starved into complacency for a few years, and this is it's way of PAYING ME BACK.)

But back to my bones and the way that I am built. Apparently, all Jewish religious girls are 5"4 and hip-less. Except me. At least, that's what all the skirts that I try on seem to be telling me. I carry stacks and stacks of clothing--in my size--to the dressing room, and leave empty-handed and in tears. And it's really not good for me to feel not good about me. Because then I want to not eat ever ever again and eat a whole chocolate cake with mint frosting. At the same time.

I feel like when I feel good about how I look again, then I can proclaim myself a maccabi, fighting against the greek ideals of physical beauty and perfection of form. Isn't that the most ridiculous thing? I even know where it came from. I'm sure that you do, too. Have you ever noticed that from cartoons all the way through to "serious" films, the good guys are beautiful graceful and the bad guys are ugly and goofy? The good guy can only have a soul-searching if the wind is blowing through his/her hair and his/her eyes are bright and skin clear. I can talk about this for hours, but my point is--

--somewhere deep within me, I truly feel that to be at peace with the physical, I have to look good while proclaiming that I am above it.

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