Nevertheless, I can't help thinking that I look like a pregnant moose. [Thank you, Will Gent, for that bit of adolescent angst. You can see I didn't forget.] Now really, other than being a tetrapod mammal with brown hair, I have very little in common with a moose, pregnant or otherwise. But it doesn't matter - every so often when I put on a dress that tends towards being empire-waisted, I'm reminded of the gentle critiques like that above - offered by my concerned and vocal peers. Oh, certainly it must have been fears for my health and not spite that motivated their comments; please, we were brothers and sisters in the gospel. Surely it was only my welfare they had at heart!
[Ah, deep, deep are the roots of my bitterness. If only someone had explained the difference between the real and the ideal before I hit Anthropology 201 in college.]
Contrast this with the fact that when I purchased that damningly pink sweatshirt in Dallas, it was an M. Medium, size M!! This from the woman who used to go straight to the back of the rack or the bottom of the pile and gingerly count the X's - a mere XL being too small in even the most generous of t-shirts thanks to the presence of my all-too-ample bosom. I didn't even think about it at the shop, I just grabbed the least expensive of what looked like it should fit. I thought I had an L, but back at my room I noticed it wasn't as baggy as I'd expected, so I looked at the tag. I should say rather it was better fitted than I expected - same result, but different angle.
Ben asked me the other day if body image was part of why I didn't date more - scars from surgery and the like. [okay, he used different words, in particular he didn't use the word "date", but short of even more parenthetical hand-waving to establish context, "date" will have to serve.] I was a little surprised at my response - an immediate "no" followed by "well, yes maybe." Mostly because it isn't the _scars_ I'm ashamed of, it's more being all wrinkly. Like an elephant, is the analogy that always springs to mind. It's funny (and sad) to find that I've internalized all this crap after all - I simply used to set it aside, all the messages about how women must be thin and wrinkle-free and hairless and svelte and blah blah blah: since I didn't meet criteria A, the whole list failed to apply. Unfortunately, it seems now that criteria A (thin) is within striking distance, the whole rest of the list is waiting in the wings to pile on like a ton of bricks. [One metaphor omelette, to go...]
I like my scars. I still plan to get a tattoo that incorporates them later on. I don't like how my hernia makes my stomach pooch out, or the weird drapery of wrinkles that depend from my belly-button. My thighs are wrinkly, my upper arms are wrinkly (though not so badly as I had expected, oddly enough), my breasts are wrinkly... it's so bizarre to find myself thinking 'elephant, ugly elephant' when I never ever felt these animal comparisons when I was heavy. And I don't actually think elephants are ugly in the real world... Just what I needed, another course of adolescent self-concern about appearance! At least I'm old enough to recognize the stupid cultural programming crap for what it is, or try to...