It makes me extremely happy to say that one of my best friends and favorite people in the world, owner of the brilliant Big Fat Deal, and the personal site Warning: Contents May Be Hot has written a guest post for me.
Anne and I have been friends
for many years, and we’ve always had a lot in common. We’re both
writers, we’re both readers, and by the end of the month, we’ll basically
have the same job. We have been known to spontaneously perform the entire
soundtrack of the musical episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
in its entirety. We once made up a theme song for the state of Wyoming
and sang it, really loudly, while high on Xanax, on a plane. And
for a long time, we were fat girls together. We would get together,
drink wine, gossip, and compare notes about our bodies. Then we’d
poke each other’s fat. And then we’d have ice cream and make out.
These are weird forms of bonding,
I realize. But it is bonding all the same.
Imagine, if you will, your
best friend, for whom you’ve always had admiration and a little bit
of jealousy, who is about your size, deciding to get weight-loss surgery.
No more poking fat in the mirror together! No more swapping clothes
(although I did call dibs on most of her wardrobe, so that was nice,
and where is that stripey Gap shirt anyway?). No more conversations
about our poor thin friends who would never understand that part of
our lives. No more of what we used to call our Porky Princess
We joked around about how, as
she got skinny, she would audition thinner friends to replace the ones
she had. It was a joke (OR WAS IT?), but I was afraid all the
same. Our other friends, sure, wouldn’t be replaced–their relationships
with Anne were never about being fat. But me and Anne–what would
we have in common, once she was skinny? In my darkest heart of hearts,
I would see it happening.
Most of all, I was afraid–to
tell you the truth, I was convinced–that my jealousy (which I jokingly
called my "Anne-vy") would flare up. Although I was working
on being really, truly, very happy with my bigger body, didn’t I still,
secretly in my heart, long to be thin? And wouldn’t I start to hate
her, just a tiny bit, once she was? And wouldn’t everything change? I
started researching weight-loss surgery–just so I would better understand
what she was going through. They say, when you get surgery, everything
changes, all your relationships change. Anne told me that no matter
what, our friendship wouldn’t change. But I was scared, and she
was scared. What if, after everything changed, everything changed?
Then she got the surgery, and
was clearly in the pit of physical hell. And I read about dangerous
things like anal fissures and hair falling out and God knows what, and
I was scared, because she was so miserable. How could I have ever
been jealous of this? Man, I was a shit friend. How could I ever
have even thought of being jealous?
And then she started to feel
slowly better–you read all about it on this very blog. And she
started to lose weight quickly, precipitously, insanely fast. And she got incredibly cute clothes–and I realized that fat or thin,
she will always dress better than me, so that was okay–and I waited
for my jealousy to kick in. And it just…didn’t. I thought I
was adjusting to her new body marvelously, and look how well adjusted
I was, and that was that. Yay! We win! Let’s eat (wait, what can you
eat now?) string cheese! Let’s make out!
And then something really strange
happened. We were on vacation together–on any one of a number
of fabulous vacations we’ve taken over the years–and I had my camera
out, and I took a picture of her. Our habit has always been to
immediately vet any pictures taken of ourselves and look for signs of
fat. (I did mention we were kind of insane, right?) I looked
at the picture and said, "Wow, this is a really flattering picture
of you! you look really skinny in this–" and then I stopped.
I looked back at the picture. I looked at Anne. I looked at the picture.
I looked at Anne.
She didn’t "look skinny"
in the picture. She was skinny. All of a sudden,
she was skinny. Up until that moment I realized that in my head,
she had been still–I don’t want to say "still fat" because
it’s not like I thought of her as "fat" either. She
was just, still the same size. Still Anne. Still my friend. Our
relationship hadn’t changed, but neither had my mental image of her.
And although she’d gained and lost weight over the years–and in this
case, lost a lot of weight–my mental image was always basically the
same. So it wasn’t until that moment–at least 100 pounds into
the weight-loss adventure–that my mental image began to change and
I started replacing "curvilicious Anne" with "thinner
Anne." And I realized it didn’t really make much of a difference.
If you have friends, you tend
to accept them for being whatever size they are. Anne has always been
a petite person. Sure, she carried more weight on her frame, but
it was a tiny frame. She’s always had that sort of delicate quality. Perhaps that’s been amplified (Anne-plified! Ha!) now that she’s lost
weight, but it hasn’t particularly changed her, or the fundamental way
I see her. Perhaps to the world–the unfair fucking world that hates
fat people and makes horrible movies starring Dane Cook and draws a
line in the sand between "acceptable" and "unacceptable"
levels of fat–now she’s thinner, now she’s better, now she’s worthier,
worthy of my (and yours, and the world’s) jealousy.
But you know, Anne has always
been fabulous and worthy of Anne-vy. She’s always been a fucking
fantastic writer–one of the most talented writers it will ever be
my privilege to personally know; wait until you read her novel, you
heard it here first. She’s always had impeccable fashion sense: tattoos,
hair, clothing, accessories. She taught me why it’s a great idea to
pair a green bag with orange shoes. She taught me that there is
life beyond jeans and a T-shirt, even for fat chicks. And she
taught me not to fear bangs, even though on me, that lesson went horribly
awry, but this isn’t my blog so we’ll move on. She has always
been a great listener, hilariously funny, and one of my favorite people
to talk about books with–she has even read fucking Finnegans Wake.
She’s always been one of my best friends, and I’ve always been proud
And not one of those things in the paragraph above is affected, not the least little bit,
by her surgery. And maybe the takeaway here is that what we weigh
is actually not all that goddamned important. It’s just
that now, on top of everything else, everything listed in the paragraph
above, the long laundry list of Things That Make Anne Who She Is, she’s
thin. But seriously, you guys–seriously–that’s the least of it.