I generally am able to fit together enough strips of self-esteem and self-worth to fashion myself a nearly impervious coat of I Am Awesome, lined on the inside with satiny "don’t look too closely, though!" Well, not really. But I keep it together, generally, and that’s all you can really ask for, isn’t it? That you go through life feeling all your bits are, more or less, in order? You might need a little defragging, here and there, and maybe a disc scan wouldn’t hurt anyone, but you are still practically state-of-the-art, top-of-the-line, a bargain at twice the price.
Lately, that feels like the major battle I’m fighting, here. Besides the daily battle to remember to take care of myself, to eat properly–to eat enough, as it turns out, and of the right things–what I am constantly trying to figure out is how to generally be happy with the now of my body, and not the five minutes from now, not the 10, 20, 30 pounds from now, not the now that will start to happen once I get the plastic surgery or the miracle cream that will shrink the skin and perk up the boobs and make me the goddamn supermodel I deserve to be, by god.
There’s the problem–what I feel like I deserve. More accurately, what I feel like I wished I really deserved. I needed surgical intervention in order to lose weight. If there was a god, and that god were fair, I wouldn’t have needed to do that. I wouldn’t have been fat in the first place, thank you so much. I would have had an athlete’s body, with an extra-large heart, and would have won triathlons all over the world. That’s logic.
However, failing that, in the face of an illogical god or if I were destined to be fat–well then, I would have been able to exercise, to eat right, to make the right choices over and over and over again for the rest of my life and to have let the weight come off slowly, naturally. Properly, in a way that Star Jones wouldn’t have been embarrassed to talk about. People, I understand why Star Jones didn’t want to talk about it. Because it feels like an admission of failure. It feels likes saying you know what? This diet thing isn’t working, and I cannot do this any more. I can imagine that it might have felt like publicly calling yourself too fat, and too stupid to lose weight. When I tell people I have gotten weight loss surgery, so often it feels like I am saying, "I wanted to be healthy!" but they are hearing exactly that "too stupid" subtext.
It has nothing to do with being too stupid to lose weight. It is so much more complicated than that. And this complicated, insane issue that is so much more than "it is a crazy motherfucking solution for stupid, lazy people" is being boiled down to exactly that. Being soundbit into "whatever happened to eating less and exercising more, Star Jones, you giant dumbass?"
I work with a sea of beautiful blondes, all of them not normal, or average–I am not going to call them "above average," because that is what we will call bullshit. I will call them outside the range of statistically normal body size in the United States. They are not 12s and 14s in my office, they are in the single digits, down to the naughts. They are skinny, and some of them are very beautiful, and they are all perfectly friendly.
But somehow, I leave the house feeling sassy and cute in my little pants and my sexy heels and I walk into the building and ride the elevator up with a gaggle of tiny girls, and even next to the ones who are not particularly attractive, I can feel the very fact of their smallness working on me. My ass starts expanding, my fat rolls begin popping and expanding like they’re being freshly baked, the buttons on my coat exploding outward one by one as all the adipose tissue in my body swells with shame and self-loathing.
And I want to tell them all, "Look, I used to be way fatter than this. This is nothing. I am normal, okay? But I’m going to be on the other side of normal, any day now. I will be down there with you, and skinny, and I can’t tell you why or how because it might be that I’m even more ashamed of that than I might have been at my heaviest and most uncomfortable weight." As if my weight is their business, as if my size is important, as if I weren’t over-the-moon happy with the things my body can do, right up until I am next to a small person and I begin to think they are small because that is what they deserve, and I was fat because that is what I deserved, and I had to get surgery, because that is what someone like me deserves.
I couldn’t do it like you, I want to tell them. And I want to apologize. I’m sorry I couldn’t do it like you, who give up dessert and must go to the gym for hours every day and work hard to be so blonde and have such a toned and flabless body. I’m sorry I’m not as strong as you have to be every day to do that. I want to apologize to everyone in the world who is broiling skinless chicken breasts, and struggling with Weight Watchers and the South Beach induction week and all the fucking butter-fried meat on Atkins and whatever other diets they’re doing, and I did those too and I understand, really I do, and I’m so sorry I left you alone to struggle like that.
I want to say I’m sorry I couldn’t do that any more, and I’m sorry you think I copped out and that I couldn’t hack it the proper way and the right way. I want to say, please believe me when I tell you that it really has been hard. It really has been a struggle. That it really isn’t as easy as giving up on the traditional good and true way of losing weight–it’s not giving up. It’s taking on a whole new set of battles, which don’t seem like battles at all, I’m sure, from the outside. Because we are lucky in that there is a dramatic, visible outside result. And we are very aware of how lucky we are. And we wish you wouldn’t think we were quitters. And I still wish everyone I worked with wasn’t so skinny, because nobody deserves that.