It was as hard as I thought it would be, being naked in front of someone. Being undressed for the first time, each piece of clothing making me aware and more aware and then ashamed that my body is so far from perfect. I wish I was still fat–my breasts were full and my stomach was soft, but solid, my hips were round and my thighs were strong, and my skin was something I recognized and my body was something I was familiar with, because I had lived with it for so long. Its contours belonged to me in a way this new body does not belong to me. I had never worried so much about my imperfections, naked in bed before. If I did not look like what someone wanted, they could close their eyes, and my skin was soft and firm and then, I could make myself forget. I could make my partner forget, too.
And now I feel like a thing made of bones, off of which skin is hanging, and the flesh I have left. I am surely not skinny, but I feel my skeleton right there under the surface. I have never seen my bones like this, before. There’s knobs to my wrists, and collarbones and my shoulders are not rounded, but bumpy and hard. This is a body that is difficult to love, I can’t help but think. And worse—I see my skin move and slide over these bones, and I cringe, and I can’t imagine what someone else would think.
He lived in another state, so we only saw each other every other weekend. Every time we saw each other, my body had changed. He ran his hand over my stomach, and I flinched. "Shh," he said. "You’re beautiful." It was hard to not push his hands away, to not cover his eyes, to beg him to turn the light off. He didn’t want to turn the light off. "I want to look at you," he said. "I want to see you," and sometimes, it was hard not to cry. It was hard not to say, "But what could you possibly be thinking?"
When I try to console myself, it is with the fact that I do not have to be naked in front of him anymore. Maybe I won’t have to be naked in front of anyone else, ever again. Probably no one else will ever be able to get me to move my hands, and for me to trust that maybe they are not lying to me, and that maybe I am just being foolish. I stand in front of the full-length mirror, and wonder how I could be foolish enough to think that this body is something anyone will ever want again.
I am not entirely foolish. It is hard to believe that there is anything good about my body, and yet, every day I have reasons again to know that for a fact, for a certain and incontrovertible fact, that this is everything that is good, having lost all this weight. I can fit into chairs without being afraid of overhang, of creaking, of breaking. Every time I squeeze through a crowd at a restaurant and don’t brush against people’s bodies, or their tables, or jostle their chairs, I am glad to take up less space. Every time I charge up the hill towards work and realize how easy it is for me, now. Every time I slip on a pair of heels and realize I can walk without paying a price or feeling as if I am going to tumble over and fall, when I look at the soles and see that I am not grinding them down, destroying them with the force of all my weight, concentrated on a narrow point. I am glad of this smaller body.
I am afraid of this smaller body, and the feeling it gives me, that I am suddenly desirable in a way that is rude and ridiculous, because fuck you for not wanting me before, and fuck you for wanting me now. Have I said that before? I will never, ever stop saying that. But it is a heady feeling, someone leaning towards you in a bar and telling you how fantastic you look and you are embarrassed for them, because how rude to suggest you used to be a troll and you are embarrassed, because of how horrible you must have looked, and you are also filled with the feeling of being wanted and being able to do anything at all. And they kiss you, and they tell you they want you, and you can say, "You’ll call me," and they’ll do anything you say, but you won’t pick up when they call, because what have you done? They think you are desirable, and you have lied to them. But you’ll do it again and again, that lean, that kiss, because that feeling of being wanted is heady, and that feeling of terror that you’ll be found out isn’t nearly enough to put you off. Even though you don’t want them, not at all. Even though it makes you sick to your stomach.
It’ll get worse as I get actually skinny, and the skin empties out and I really am a bag poorly wrapped around some bones. Maybe I won’t be able to hide it anymore. Maybe I won’t care, anymore. Maybe I’ll have a pony. Everything seems hard right now, and lonely and impossible, and I know things will improve because always, they do. The hardest thing, which makes me feel foolish all over again, is that I can’t console myself with the idea that I’ll never be naked in front of him again because that is all I want in the world, because it wasn’t that hard. He made it so easy. I am tired of things being so hard.