Saturday, February 17, 2007

Who’s going to weigh in on this one? I didn’t really believe I could say “hungry fat girl” and get away with it. For one thing I risked offending skinny people who do not judge overweight people. I was once skinny and I did not see people in physical sizes. Yes, I could distinguish large, small and medium, but I was not preoccupied with the issue. I know there are people that do not overly concern themselves with other people’s dimensions, so I apologize if you feel I was implicating you in my statement. I also knew that by raising the weight banner I would be allowing the light to shine on me and how I feel about my own size, food and dieting. And maybe I am pissing off anyone bigger than me. I know it irks me to hear anyone smaller than me complain about his or her FAT. Lastly, there are some that firmly believe that they are doing a service by passing along their ideas about the right way to eat, exercise, live, and I suppose I may have their attention too.

So, how fat am I? No. I don’t think I am ready for that confession. I am guilty though. If I read someone’s weight loss story I immediately scan the article for her weight and height. Am I as big as that? Do I look like her? I also critique skinny women. Sorry. Not all skinny women, or the obviously athletic ones. I do judge the very, very thin ones that look anorexic and I think they are self-obsessed and unhealthy looking. Then I feel guilty, because their physical condition is their own and not my concern. I am guilty of seeing anyone really exceptionally large and maybe looking a little too long. Again, I am sorry. Do you know what I think? I think, “I hope they are okay.” I worry about their health and I pray for them, because I know they must suffer a lot of unkind remarks and prejudice. I am also guilty of eating when I am stressed, and eating when I am exhausted. And I have even eaten to spite anyone that tries to impose his or her food rules on me. So, there.

So, when did I start seeing all the different sizes and thinking about them, and worrying about my own middle and my butt and the size of my underwear? The obsession is everywhere, don’t you agree? Magazines, cereal boxes, chatter, diet ads, fat jokes, television, fashion runways, eating disorders, surgical fixes… who can possibly escape the cultural mania with weight? I do know the exact time and place when it became my obsession too and I regret that I was not able to deflect the moment at its inception. I wish I could go back and be the self that did not feel fat. I wish I would not compare myself with the pretty, skinny models or the “good” moms that lost their baby weight. I wish I still felt comfortable in sleeveless dresses. And I wish that none of my happiness and self-esteem depended on losing weight, because I think that I am entitled to love, acceptance and a claim to beauty no matter what my size is. Thinking isn’t always believing, and there’s the damage.

What else? Well, I worry about my own daughter. It took seeing a little girl, a “small me” to see how much influence I have and how huge the responsibility can be. How do I nurture her pride and joy, her uncensored comfort with her own body and thoughts? I think I know. I think I have to model for her my own self-acceptance, and dare I say, love? Yes, nutrition, exercise, balance, healthy habits… those are vital, and I know that it’s a constant process of providing, supporting, facilitating, learning and teaching all the healthy habits for my family. But besides serving veggies, fruit, and whole grains, and leading long walks, I want to preserve her happy vision of herself as she was created and as she grows. I want this confidence and comfort for my sons too. We’ve been learning so much together, making mistakes too. I think it’s a difficult task to balance, especially when they are so savvy. How do you communicate, “You are beautiful and capable, now please make healthier food choices and go outside and run,” without making them feel inadequate? If you think you know the answer, don’t be so sure.

Well, I wanted to write about food, my favorite foods and favorite recipes and how good corn tortillas smell when their edges begin to toast on a hot comal. I wanted to get all giddy about gardens and cooking and sharing meals and how much better any dish tastes when it’s shared. I could have continued in my regular habit of downplaying the topic, somewhat, and obviously completely avoiding the issues of my weight and insecurities and perceptions and assumptions about other people’s assumptions. But I stepped in to an open field and raised a banner full of honest, painful, embarrassing truths and lies.

I do love food. Isn’t it sad… other addictions require that you quit, so that you avoid the alcohol or cigarettes, but we each have to eat no matter what. I guess we’re all sort of food addicts one way or another. Some of us obsessively count each grain and calorie and know how many laps it takes to burn off a brownie. Others delight in every bite and want more and more, and if they aren’t metabolically blessed they can suffer for it too. Our bodies, our smiles, our thoughts are all as unique and individual as our tastes and habits. I would love to love food and prepare food and serve food, and be healthy in my mind, body and spirit… yes, I like that. Maybe I can get there.

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