I was sitting outside, drinking my low-fat latte (proteinlicious!) and watching the people go by. People go by a lot in my neighborhood, and most of them are young and cute and have got leashes full of dogs and handfuls of children. I was about halfway through my delicious latte when one of the children stopped, a little angelic curly-haired blond boy of maybe four or five, and I smiled, and smiled at his dad, and waited for them to go away. His father, however, was all about respecting the little boy’s personhood, and did not rush him down the street. The little boy was squinting at me very intently, and I realized I was being judged.
"I know," the boy said to me. "I know that hair is not that color. That is not real hair!" "Oh!" I said. "You’re right! It is not my real hair color." He shook his head very gravely, and looked so disappointed. "What color is it," I said, to make conversation.
"Orange," he said. "It’s orange." And with that pronouncement of truth, as if he had discovered me in my terrible lie and unmasked me with a great righteousness, he walked away. And his father followed after, never having made eye contact with the crazy orange-haired person drinking her latte and feeling terribly judged.
It’s not my real hair! It’s true. And a four-year-old should not make me feel as if I am trying to pull something over on the world, going out and about with hair that is not real (and is definitely more red than orange. What in the world are they teaching in kindergarten these days?) as if I am trying to pull the wool over the world’s eyes, never ever letting anyone know that I am not nearly as cool as my hair, but am in fact a dishwater brown which would make you yawn and fall asleep immediately and at the very instant you clapped eyes upon it. I am a fake. I feel like a fake in a lot of ways, and generally, I try to not think about it, until a four-year-old unmasks me.
I feel like a fake every time I get out of the hairdresser’s chair. My wonderful guy, he makes me punk rock. He makes me short and spiky, and funky and cool and all wacky in the head, and he hands me the mirror and spins me around and inevitably, the first thing out of my mouth is "I am not cool enough for this hair." I love my haircut (which is currently an ex-haircut and now more a mess than anything else) but I do not feel real, in it. I do my best to live up to my hair, but I am fake-cool, and please don’t question me too closely for you will learn the truth of my dorkiness and be so ashamed. You will tell me, "Why do you have such awesome tattoos? Your tattoo artist is awesome, but those don’t belong on you. You are selling a lie." I feel so much, sometimes, like I am selling a lie, and I wonder when someone is going to figure that out.
Did the lie come first? Am I deliberately lying about who I am? Did I get tattoos to make myself look cool, to present a me to the world that I want to be? I am pretty sure I didn’t, because I just like them, and they are pretty, and I am totally sure they speak to a part of me inside which is totally cool and awesome and is just mostly sleeping all the time because it spends so many late nights guzzling tequila and passing out on pool tables. I am sure there is some truth to the kind of person my tattoos make me look like. Almost positive. Practically convinced. I am not as cool as my tattoos.
And here’s a million-dollar question for you–did I get weight loss surgery to lie? I am a small person, now, with small bones. I am a size I never thought I’d be, and had never even dared hope for. I have spent my fat life thinking if I were just, like, maybe a size 14, I’d be happy. All I need to be is a size 14. I am a size 12, and steadily moving downwards. My friend K.T., who knows about clothing and bodies, said, "Your doctor says you’ll lose 35 more pounds? You’re going to end up…a size 6, I think," and that sounds like a lie. I am not a size 6 person. I was not meant to be a 6. How is that even possible? I am a fat girl, with big bones. I have got big bones, with big meat wrapped around those bones. I am not this small person. If I were to have babies, genetics would out me. My babies will be roly-poly, because that is who I am, a fat girl, with fat genes, who is lying to the people who think she is small and has always been small. The people who find out she used to weigh 145 pounds more than this, and say "No way. That is not possible. You are so small."
My body is a lie. I look small in clothes, and some people would have me believe that I am hot, and they want to see me out of them, and maybe up on my knees. But that will not work, because naked, I am not hot. Naked, there is hanging skin and stretch marks. My thighs are melting and my breasts do not always have good breast days and my butt is weird. My body is a lie I cover up every day, and I have never been good at lying. Or being judged.