Flirtations and Flab

“Overeating is a form of violence…” ~ Marianne Williamson in A Course in Weight Loss: 21 Spiritual Lessons for Surrendering Your Weight Forever

Two simple, related facts:

  1. I did not eat the donuts at work yesterday.
  2. No one has offered to buy me a beer in months.

If you read between the factoids, you might gather that no one has offered to buy me a beer because I am fat. Or, because I exude the very negative energy that I think I am unappealing because I am fat. Or, perhaps, delving a little deeper, that I think fatness has prevented anyone from truly loving me and loving me somehow comes in the form of gifting alcoholic beverages.

Not so. Well, not entirely so.

There is a definitive connection between the offering of drinks and the abstaining from donuts. Yes. However, I believe that no one has offered to buy me a beer in months because I have not set foot in a bar in months. And bars are where ladies obtain free drinks.

So, yeah, so what? I don’t drink anyway. Not anymore. Not in the last nine months and ten days. But, who’s counting?

Still, and I have spoken of this here before, I am a plus size woman. Or, as the fantabulous and dutiful employers of slang acronyms might say, I am BBW.

Until recently, I thought that was okay. More than okay. In fact, I told an old college pal, when we reconnected face to face not too long ago, that I felt like I looked better now than ever. Even at my age. Even at my size. In fact, two or three months ago, I was walking across a city street, skirt swinging around my thighs, wind whipping through my hair, when the inner dialogue kicked in: “Hot Damn! I could be a plus size model!”

Yet lately, this invigorating sentiment has abated. While I still have some good days, while I do prance around in a bathing suit that I perceive is as flattering as a full coverage bathing suit can be, I don’t want to be a plus size woman anymore. I blame this on the beer. Or, lack thereof.

You see, as a regular bar hopper and perpetual fly, I didn’t often suffer for complementary glasses of what-have-you. And, since I believed that I had a self-esteem that seemed to have no cap, I was surprised to discover the dismal connection between the loss of what can only be seen as lust tied up in a liquid bow and the utter deflating of my ego. Those liquid gifts, the smiles, the small talk were the life preservers that were keeping my positive body image afloat. Lately, this cringing when I look in the mirror, this belief that love handles just ain’t hip, seems to stem from the fact that there haven’t been men providing the external affirmation that I apparently needed.

Ugh.

And, if that weren’t enough, in an essay that is too risqué, too daring to post here, I stated: “I have never, through my imaginary man lens, seen myself as anything other than a sexual object. I don’t know that I believe that any man has ever really truly seen me.” I needed male attention to make me feel good about myself but also believed that the attention was inherently shallow.

Another big, giant, ugly ugh.

But, thankfully, I think I can safely state that my “imaginary man lens” is faulty or foggy or smeared with mud. At least I think I can. And, as of late, men have popped up that seem to see the whole me. This may be largely due to the fact that I am a.) sober enough to start to recognize honest connection and b.) sober enough to present myself authentically. A male friend, who seems to view me as a true artiste, conversationalist, and all around hip, young thing, recently said “I’m not saying that you weren’t cool when you were drinking, but you are super cool now.”

(On a side note, I thought people would view me as a prude when I quit drinking. Instead, I get congratulations and high fives, even from those dizzy with ale.)

Yet, even with this powerful, still external feedback, I find myself projecting my re-excavated negative self-image onto others. I assume that people, including this friend who dubbed me super cool, thinks that I would be much cooler if my thighs were half their size. Maybe he does. It shouldn’t matter. I know that in some ways we all need or at least crave a mirror of our own positive sense of self-worth. I know that it is difficult or impossible and terribly unfun to love oneself in a bubble of isolation. But, these men? Even those that truly see me? What gives?

Yes, I’ve been making sounder choices when it comes to food– except for that pimento cheese, bacon, and tomato grill that I had the other day– because I would like to lose weight. Because part of me believes that I will be hipper and happier if I firmed up the deflated tire tube that is my lower belly. But, is that it?

So, this “overeating is a form of violence” quote?

In my disgust, I have pondered ways to achieve the goal of slimming this body that contains me. I thought of many an avenue. Some healthy. Some not so healthy. And since, in addition to knocking my physique, I am also doing a great deal of inward self-examination and personal healing in other areas of my life, I decided that the best method for me would be to simply explore my relationship with food. This brought me to the Marianne Williamson text that I quoted above. It also brought me to the book Women Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything by Geneen Roth. In the opening pages of this text, Roth states that “… our relationship to food is an exact microcosm of our relationship to life itself… everything we believe about love, fear, transformation and God is revealed in how, when, and what we eat.”

Whoa! And, yes!

Perhaps, both the realization that I was using flirtation as a means to bolster my confidence and the fact that I am working so hard to improve myself have lead me to a self-criticism that may seem negative on the surface but is actually leading to the conscious construction of yet another healthy relationship– the intimate affair that I have with grains, proteins, veggies, fruits and dairies, fats and sugars.

You see, maybe my distaste for my frame, while unpleasant, is just an uncomfortable gateway to awareness. An awareness that I haven’t been loving myself as much as I could. I have been seeking the approval of others in place of taking care of myself. My self-image has been built on a shaky and temporary foundation. Knowing this deep down but being in denial about it, I have been acting, as Williamson suggests, violently toward myself. My body is just a reflection of my chaotic inner world.

Using descriptions such as “deflated tire tube” may not be gentle or loving (though I find them funny) and hating on oneself serves little purpose. I get that. So, I know that in my personal investigations I must be sure to lean into compassion and love. I also know that once awareness has set in there is no real turning back. The fog may descend, denial may rummage its ugly fingers through your hair, but clarity always lingers. I believe that I have no choice now but to eat (and flirt) more consciously. I can still choose to make poor choices, but I won’t be making them with an absent mind.

If I can live with integrity, I believe I can truly love myself. If I truly love myself, I will continue to live with integrity. And then, if there is still that flab that swings from my upper arms when I lift something, it won’t matter as much.

 

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