Important Note: I would like to thank Rubo for the birthday box she sent me. I am touched by how carefully she chose the items for me. In one case, the bracelet, she made it herself. She included writing journals (including a wicked awesome black one), calligraphy pens, newspapers she wrote/edited, and other thoughtful gifts. To top it off, she included a treasure chest and a framed picture of Alan Rickman. The last item made me laugh out loud in pleasure. I had tears in my eyes as I opened the box. I am grateful to have a friend like Rubo in my life–compassionate, funny, warm, tender-hearted, and true. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Rubo. I so appreciate you.
Now, on to the entry.
As devoted readers of my blog know, I have major body/food issues. It’s hard to say which came first, oh wait. No, it’s not. Body issues were first, followed quickly by food issues. As I have written before, I got fat around age seven–coincidentally (and I mean that wryly), the same age (as best as I can pinpoint) the molestation started. At least, it was happening at that time. Before that, I was plump, but not fat. After that, I blew up.
Wait. Stop. That’s not true, either. I’ve seen pictures of myself at that time, and while I was overweight, yes, I wasn’t grotesquely hideously fat. However, my mom put me on my first diet when I was seven, saying, “You would have such a beautiful face if you lost some weight.” Seven. Thirty-two years ago. That dictum is still pounded in my head to this day. “If, then.” If I lose weight, then I would be beautiful. In my mind, the two cannot coexist, but only for me. Hearken back to this entry. In it, I wax poetic about how hot I find other women with curves.
I get frustrated because I truly believe a woman’s worth is not based on how much she weighs–unless it’s me. It’s not even that cut-and-dry, though. I know that I am an intelligent, funny, witty, creative, loving, caring woman. I accept that there are people who find me attractive. I like my hair, my eyes, and my boobs to some extent (free drinks, yo!). I have been told often enough that my smile lights up my face to accept that this is probably empirically true. I actually like the fact that my legs are solid because then they can do a lot of work.
Still, the last six months have been tough for me on the body front. First, my doc telling me I’m close to dangerously morbidly obese and that I could keel over at any second, and then having to deal with my family (in Taiwan) and their obsession with weight. If I was given the choice of being able to be a size two for the rest of my life, but with the caveat that I would live five years less, I would take that deal. I hate admitting it, but it’s true.
Again, I don’t find a size two attractive on other women. Most Hollywood actresses don’t appeal to me because they are too damn skinny. I don’t find bones poking out to be attractive, and yet, that’s what I want for myself. This is how fucked up I am. Punk Girl (Kel’s middle child) is very slender. Rangy, is a good word. At the soccer game, Kel, Punk Girl, and I were talking about the shirt Kel gave me for my birthday. She was saying how I kept talking about how huge I was so she got me a large size that is swimming on me. Punk Girl drawled, “Yeah, you keep saying you’re fat. It’s not like you’re morbidly obese!” I said my doc said I was close to it. Both of them told me my doc was full of shit. That’s when I talked about how when I was at my thinnest, I weighed 138 pounds (about ten pounds away from being overweight), but I had a 24″ waist. Punk Girl stared at me and said, “I have a 27″ waist!” I didn’t believe her, but if she’s not lying to me (and I see no reason why she would lie), then I am more skewed in how I view myself than I thought I was. Looking at Punk Girl, I see her as so slim and stunning. I can’t reconcile the idea that her waist now is bigger than mine was when I was at my skinniest.
In addition, I was taught at a young age that my body was a commodity. It is something with which I can barter. Like a chicken (the leading candidate for the senate spot in Nevada suggested bartering chickens for healthcare. Seriously). It wasn’t really mine, per se. I felt that if someone wanted it, who was I to say no? It was my way of giving the only thing I felt I had of value–conversely, that meant I valued it not at all. Part of the photo shoot was to reclaim my body as mine, to see if I could find the beauty of it in and of itself. I know what it can get me, well, I used to know. I am finding new and unique ways to get pleasure out of my body, but I’ll save that for another entry. Suffice to say, I viewed my body with a mixture of loathing, repulsion, and resignation. I have always preferred my brain, and for many years, I considered my body simply the vehicle for carting my brain around. That’s one of the reasons I’m so clumsy–I just couldn’t be bothered with caring for my body.
So. This is my long-winded introduction to the photo shoot I had with Kel. Many months ago, I was talking about a female photographer who shot nude pictures of women who had been abused in their childhoods. It was a way for the women to reclaim their bodies. At the same time, we were passing back and forth You Can Leave Your Hat On by Joe Cocker, which I think is one sexy-as-hell song. In addition, awhile ago, I saw the Chippendales dancers on some talk show, and one guy did a strip (not to the nude, of course) to this song. Hot! Anyway, I said that I would like someone to do that for me, but the only photographer I know around here is my brother. Yeah, no. That would not be a good idea at all. She offered to do it for me when we met, and we planned how we wanted it to be. I knew that I wanted to sit on a chair that was facing backwards. The rest, I would leave up to her.
So, Friday afternoon, while the kids were at school, we had the shoot. I briefly thought about putting on makeup or running a brush through my hair again, but I decided to leave it. I am not a makeup gal, anyway, and my hair is always tangled throughout the day. I also considered not wearing my glasses, but Kel had it right. My glasses are a part of me. I wear them all the time except when I sleep. I would wear them for the shoot. As she started making lunch (yummy scrambled eggs), I stripped. I was wearing a tank top, a bra, and boxers, so it wasn’t hard to go the full monty. I sat on the chair where she had placed it, and we got to work.
Now, I was aware she had Alejandro in hand and was shooting my picture, but it wasn’t intrusive. We chatted about this and that as she gave me suggestions as how to pose. We had fun with it. I stuck out my tongue at her at one point (the picture turned out really well), and I gave her the finger at another. For the most part, though, I just smiled and laughed as we chatted. I wasn’t uncomfortable at all, and I give major props to Kel for setting up an environment that felt so safe. It doesn’t hurt that her nearest neighbor is not very close to her house as we were shooting in the kitchen nook with the sunlight streaming in the windows.
Later that afternoon, Kel edited the pics. I had the impulse to tell her to cover my scars, but in the end, I decided to let them stand. Why? Because they are a part of me as well. I don’t like them, but I am not going to hide them, either. I did want her to erase my double-chin, but I didn’t ask her to do that, either. I love the white streaks in my hair, so I wasn’t going to have her touch those, either. In the end, I don’t think she did much ‘shopping on the pics. I had a hard time looking at them, but to my surprise, they turned out really well. I still cringe slightly at the sight of my stomach and how round I am, but I really like what Kel did to my face, double-chin notwithstanding.
As I’ve written before, I rarely look in the mirror, so I don’t have a very good idea as to what I look like. When I looked at the pics, I was struck by how much I like my eyes. I’ve always counted them as one of my good features, but I never realized before how warm they can be. Plus, Kel said I looked confident and serene in the pics, and I have to agree. She insists that she did nothing to me, but I beg to differ because that’s not really how I look–at least not in my head. So, thanks, Kel, for making me beautiful.
I’m still not crazy about my body, but I can at least look at it objectively now. As I looked at the pics, I could intellectually say that I wasn’t grotesque or disgusting, even if I still look fat (my waist is so thick!) and my boobs are not so perky. The cringe was a slight one, rather than a full-body recoil as it would have been in the past. I can see that my body is more than a commodity or the protector of my brain. Baby steps, my friends. That’s the best I can do right now.
P.S. I had to re-size the pics for the blog, so I may throw up the full-sized pics on Flickr at some point. If I do, I will link it.
P.P.S. I have more pics, a few that show more of me, if you know what I am saying. I may post them in another entry in the future.