naked: when the beholder loves you

I spent most of Saturday at a meeting, eating a lot of oats. As it turns out, larger quantities of oats and my belly don’t get along so well–to be fair, much of that oatmeal came in the form of cookies and bars, but still. I waddled out of the door feeling distended, and bloated (blOATed! ha!) and a little bit ill. When I got back to my hotel room, I took off my sweater, glanced at the mirror and kind of gasped–my entire belly was poofed out, as if I had just sat and eaten a whale, except it took me significantly under 89 years. I don’t think I’ve ever noticed such a direct result of food on my body, ever, and it was strange to see.

I recounted the story to a friend of mine–“And I was so bloated and distended! I was huge! It was amazing! Biology is amazing!” Eventually talk turned to other things. Eventually, a few drinks in, we started to talk about body image, as we sometimes do because we are both fascinated by it. And she turned to me and said, I have to tell you: It sounded to me like you were complaining that you were fat and unattractive. She said that the first thing she thought was that if I thought I was fat and ugly with a big old gut, then what must I think of her, and the size of her stomach?

It was absolutely startling, because I don’t think I have ever
considered the size of her stomach. I think she is one of the most
beautiful people in the world, certainly one of the most beautiful that
I know, and if you pressed me, I couldn’t tell you what size she is.
She’s got an awesome rack I’m jealous of, an hourglass figure and is
gorgeous. That’s what I would tell you, could tell you, about her body,
off the top of my head. But I also know her very well, and could
explain her topography, describe her hips and her belly and her legs
and her butt, but I don’t have any opinion of them except that they
belong to her and they are beautiful, and she is beautiful, and she is
my friend.

Part of the reason that people are our friends is because they appeal
to us in some way, and part of their appeal is physical–almost always,
we are friends with people we like to look at. We are frequently
attracted to someone, want to talk to them and know them because of how
they appear to us. It’s not necessarily sexual, but it is undeniably
physical, to start. And the more we know someone and love them, the
more they appeal to us. We think our friends are beautiful, if we’re
doing it right. And your friends think you are so beautiful, and that
you are crazy, with that thing you think about your ankles or your chin or
your arms.

Hey, remember how no one cares about your back fat except you, and your enemies, and who
cares about your enemies? Here is the corollary. Your friends don’t
care either, but that’s only because they know your back is beautiful,
and so are you.

2 Replies to “naked: when the beholder loves you”

  1. If your friend was feeling insecure, it probably wouldn’t have taken much to trigger her “what must she think of me” anxiety. That’s the bad thing about body anxiety — it’s such a noxious weed, and so easily fed, and it turns you into a self-flagellating machine. Plus it turns everything into the “It’s All About You” show. So not fun to be or be around. I have been on both sides of this and hate them both equally.

    The biggest thing I’ve noticed when gas turned me into a giant hot-air balloon is how incredibly uncomfortable it is, and what a huge relief it is when it’s over. I wonder if it’s oats that don’t agree with you, or the sweeteners that are in some of them. Artificial sweeteners and some fiber things that are added to food make my belly blow up and ache.

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