I used to think becoming a woman was the greatest tragedy that happens to a girl. The changes that happen, no matter how prepared and informed you are about them, come so rapidly, they often take shape of a catastrophe in a nutshell. A very personal nutshell that is inseparable from self – our bodies.
Some girls never come to terms with the new womanly shape, forever striving for the angular teenage look. Some even refuse to live their lives to the fullest because of the negative thinking. I admit: I used to be one of those “girls” who was unable to get over femininity's physical manifestations. Breasts and periods, what a horror show indeed!
But maybe, just maybe, there is more depth to femininity than teenage girls understand. Maybe it’s a gift to be born the Other gender. It took me years to come to terms with the fact that the greatest line on earth would undoubtedly be curved. And this is my truthful account, as far as memories can testify.
Lolita and Co.
At around fifteen I was the teenage dream of every other boy at school. In my old-fashioned moralistic town, a girl in a short skirt got used to frequent catcalling and longing gazes. It was the masculine world’s reluctant admittance of defeat against the charm of the prettier sex and at the time I didn’t mind it.
“Couldn’t you get a shorter skirt?” asked two boys on the bus and I thought, “Hmm, it’s just my legs. I use them for walking. Get used to the idea.” See, my initial, slight, undeveloped curves turned every day into a festival of cheap flirting and abundant attention. I hardly gave those comments - or my legs - a second thought.
It’s a trick of perception: Back then, I assumed the boys liked me the way I wanted to be liked. The “She is so beautiful, I want to find out what she’s like” way.
Everything changed when I gained more weight and ventured into the “overweight” zone. Suddenly, the things men said to me got more offensive and concentrated on particular parts of my body.
I started to notice my body and think about my weight. I began to monitor what I ate and, like most girls who restrict, I turned into a monumental bore. I quickly found out I wasn’t good at dieting – I didn’t like how my calorie-deprived brain didn’t take random, colorful trips into different subjects anymore.
I soon gave up trying to lose weight, but I didn’t stop having a problem with my looks. Short skirts turned into loose T-shirts and the opposite gender started pretending I didn’t exist at all. At the time, the sudden switch seemed to my young, naïve self like some sort of tragedy. Only later would I come to appreciate the excess adipose tissue that common lingo calls just “fat.” It pushed me to places I would never have gone otherwise.
Thanks to Fat
A brain is prone to generalizations, so, disenchanted by the shallow, animalistic nature of what I thought was masculine attraction, I had to find other ways to give and get affection. I started long correspondences with people who lived far away, to keep intimacy at bay. Thanks to that, I fell in love with words – the flow, the play, the way they could trot the line between disguise and revelation. Words came to replace the physical forms of affection. Words became the signifiers of being loved for something more profound than just genetic makeup, exercise regime, and nutrition.
I first fell in love with a girl. Not to say that my bisexuality was a manifestation of rejecting and being rejected by men, but it served as a catalyst for exploration. During this time, I decided that the feminine expression of love ran deeper than the masculine one. It was easier for me to understand and accept my body, when I carelessly flirted with girls of all sizes, because I found them attractive as hell.
I soon discovered the feeling of universal sisterhood and, through feminist readings, came to realize some of the mistakes in the thinking of my ignorant past. Fat made me more educated about all forms of social justice, because I suddenly was made to gaze beyond my wishful thinking and into reality. I became acutely aware of certain privileges.
Fat influenced my style, too, in both positive and negative ways. After a stage of using clothes only as a hiding place or defense, I rediscovered my “To hell with it” attitude and found fun in fashion again. Nothing anyone said could touch me anymore. The remarks had become impotent to offend or change my mood, because the public’s admiration became devalued: it depended too much on standards and I had fallen in love with deviations. For me, the rules of fashion and beauty existed only to produce the dark pleasure of breaking them.
I learned what it was like to truly love yourself. It’s a trivial task, when it seems like everyone around you already does. My fat took me out of the attractiveness framework and now, though I find myself attractive, no one’s acknowledgement will make a difference to me, unless they at least know me. I’ve returned to “conventionally attractive,” but I could never return to the mindless workings of its framework. I’ve unlearnt how to light-heartedly flirt with men, though. Oh, well.
Back to the label “Healthy”
When Heraclitus said that you can’t enter the same river twice, he also meant you can’t return to the same weight twice.
My perspective on my body is different now, though I'm back to an average weight. I've started to prefer food that’s allegedly good for me in general, though cookies also frequent my breakfasts. I live in the mythology of a girl, who takes good care of herself and likes the elliptical in my house because it’s the dystopian machine that takes exercise to a high level of artificiality. I exfoliate and do masks and smell of forget-me-nots. I lost the weight thanks to acquired habits without noticing it. I’ve tried my best to purge the body of its politics, and in the process, that body changed.
The fat that I gained as my body was transforming into itself vastly contributed to the woman I am now. Today, I see it like this: My fat is ample and Dionysian and meant for some hypothetical baby my body thinks it’ll have. Haha. Whatever.
Have you travelled to and fro in the land of the thin and did it contribute to who you are? Let me know in the comments!