As of last week, I weighed exactly half of what I started out weighing. I was 316 pounds at my highest; on Tuesday, I weighed 158 pounds. I am half my size; I am half my width (and as I say that, I realize that I still obviously think of being 316 as my default weight, the weight I belong at, and this weight as the new, unexpected development that is a little out of line, not in keeping with the way the world really works). I am, empirically, small. I’ve got small wrists and bony hands. I’ve got knobs on my shoulders, which are fairly narrow, and collarbones, and bumpy knees. There is skin, and fat, still hanging around my belly and my thighs; my waist has got some inches to pinch, and my butt is still more of a badonkadonk. But I am small.
Up until a couple of weeks ago, I still felt small. I was still marveling at being able to feel my spine, and that under my flesh, there were ribs; when I lie down, there are my hipbones, one on each side. My tailbone is not happy that it is no longer as cushioned as it used to be, and it still clangs up my back when I sit down too quickly or too hard, and the bones vibrate. I fit on Muni seats and in airplane seats. I can get through the crowd at a coffee shop without knocking peoples’ cups over with my ass, the way I used to. I am, by any standard—compared to how I used to weigh, compared to any health standard, compared to reality, considered objectively and without any shadowing insanity, small. Except lately, I am feeling fat.
I’m not expecting pity or sympathy, here—for fuck’s sake, I’m a size
12, sometimes a 10, and that is not fat. It is also far, far smaller
than I ever expected to be. When I was a size 28, size 16 seemed
magical, far-away, impossibly tiny. At 16, a 10 seemed incredibly
small. It is like breaking into misses sizes, up here at the top of the
heap, I have looked down at all the sizes below me and thought look how
far I have to go. As if this isn’t enough, perfectly acceptable, a
place to stay instead of a resting point.
When I was 13 sizes bigger than the 4s and 2s and 0s, it seemed
laughable to compare myself to them. What was the point? Apples,
oranges. Hams, sugar-fee Jell-O pudding. That doesn’t mean I didn’t
look at tiny girls wistfully—but they all seemed tiny to me. I had no
concept of sizes, and unless they were Nicole Richie terrifying,
couldn’t even begin to guess if someone was a 14 or a 4.
It was like I was living in Romania, and they lived in Los Angeles, and
there was no point in even thinking about them, all the way across they
globe. They were off my mental radar. It wasn’t worth the effort, since
it didn’t seem possible, or even reasonable to shoot for a weight that
low. Now, it’s like I’ve been bused into the neighborhood and I’m
peering over the fence and coveting their lawns right up close.
Suddenly I feel lumbering and huge. Suddenly, this isn’t good enough.
Suddenly, I am not small enough, and I cannot believe this train of
thought is even possible. It would have been unthinkable that this
isn’t small enough. I got angry, when I was obese, that there were
women who complained about wanting to lose five pounds because
being a size six was just fat and why couldn’t they be a two like they
were in high school? That women who thought they were fat when they
gained three pounds were ridiculous and what is wrong with them? The media,
the obsession with thinness, the pursuit of size zero—how could any
woman get caught up in it? I was smug. There’s no way I could get
caught up in it.
I am less smug, now that I am caught up in it. What the fuck is wrong
with me? With us? Why can’t I be thrilled I’m healthy and happy and I’m
fit? How did I get tangled up in this idea that it isn’t enough and it
won’t be enough? Why do I have to hate myself not only for not being
thin enough, but for the fact that it isn’t enough?
It is bullshit, it is toxic, it is wrong and I am crazy and I don’t know how to snap the fuck out of it.