"...and this shows that you are 30% body fat. Which means that you have low tone. So we'll have to work on that!"
She looked at me, the gym lady, all perky and smiley and exclamation points, and then jotted something down on my chart. Probably something like, whoo-whoo, you are one fat chick.
I smiled back, and then two little being fluttered onto my (low-toned) shoulders. One said, in a deep and scary voice, kinda batman-like, "Omigodomigodomigod, you are fat."
I assumed that one was the devil.
Then the next one spoke up in a silvery voice that bespoke of hope, and dreams, and love. It said, "Omigodomigodomigod, you are fat."
So I'm not sure why I needed both of them to tell me what I already intuited on my own. So I sent them away. I can speak for myself. I opened my mouth, and I said, "Omigodomigodomigod, I am fat."
"No!" Thus spoke Perky Gym Lady. "You are not at all fat! You just have to work on your toning! And that's what we are here for! Together, we will reach your goals!"
There is something so demeaning about being weighed and measured. Like I am being reduced to a number, to a mathematical formula. You are this number, and you want to reach this number. Subtract that, and you will get this. That is you, and that will be you.
I used to do that. I used to do that to myself. I don't want to do that anymore. But I do want to be healthy. And I do want to look good and feel good. There has to be a happy medium, and I have to find it.
I recently found a stream of consciousness kind of writing that I must have written when I was prgnant with Princess. I have included in at the end of this post. I was still struggling so much then, but I was in a good place. I am still in a good place. And I can stay in a good place and still have a mad awesome body. Right?
I passed by a girl today, and I knew her from Before. You know. Before cereal with milk and close-faced sandwiches. She had a baby and a toddler and she was bent under their weight, even though she was not carrying either one. But I knew that she was bent under their weight, the pounds that they had put on her during pregnancy despite her ignoring the intense demands of her pregnant body.
We smiled at each other; said our ‘hello’s and ‘what brings you here’s as her eyes raked over my body. I felt her mind calculate my weight, and then calculate her weight, and I saw the tight look in her eyes ease. She was the thinner one, by far. She was the winner. Satisfied, she turned to go and left me there, reduced to nothing but the pounds that would show up on my scale, had I owned one.
I covered my pregnant belly with my arms in fear. Is it contagious? Could I catch it? The twenty-odd pounds that I gained for my unborn baby—I do not even know the exact amount—would it hurt me, cause me to bleed inside until my very skin seemed black and blue and wounded? I still cry sometimes, when it’s dark outside and cold inside and the night seems to stretch on forever, over the pounds that I gained; but not like that. Never again like that.
I closed my mind on the shadows that immediately crowded into my head, clamoring for attention. She was not going to put me back in a place that I had no interest in being. The cold dryness of scales and pills and charts, mirrors and calculators and a chorus of accusing voices have no place in the warm, watery world of pregnancy and washing dishes. Warm and watery, like the tears that fall silently after I cry out about my pounds, my beautiful baby pounds. How can I cry out like that? How dare I cry out like that? And I’m not any more deserving than the friend who struggled and overcame but is left inexplicably with empty arms. And I’m not any stronger than the friend who struggled and fell and struggled and fell and then left this world so abruptly that I couldn’t catch my breath.
It was all a game. We played to fill the emptiness that yawned like a rocky pit inside of us. We played to personify the nothingness that was felt inside, the way a tongue automatically probes the area of a missing tooth. We played because we felt that the dichotomy was too strong and it would tear us in two. We played for lack of a better way to demonstrate how it all felt.
And then on the other side, there was no depth. It was just a simple fight to the death. Thinner is the winner. Can you see me now? How about now? Now? What if I stand sideways? Got you there, huh? I disappear. I can bend the rules of physics and live, ghostlike, in both worlds.
I wanted to run after her and shake her. Not for her sake, I realized with a guilty start, but for mine. Don’t you do that, I wanted to yell in her too-chiseled face. Don’t you dare think that you can calculate my worth with one glance. Don’t you dare think that I can be reduced to a number. The world is not your playing field and I refuse to be your opponent. I will not be someone that you have beaten, because you see, I no longer play The Game. I changed the rules. I’m filling up and fleshing out the empty space inside instead of personifying it. And I’m filling it with a brand new life.