Trigger Warning: Negative body talk, disordered eating, sexual assault
Today was a bad body day. I felt it coming, like an old man might feel a storm in his joints. I felt it in my gut when I woke up. I was more conscious of my size, of the space I took up as I got ready for work. The looks on faces when I got gas and coffee. Was that a sideways glance at me?
I noticed the way my skin folded, and the way it dimpled around my elbows. I felt my thighs spread as I sat, and felt ashamed. That was my first solid clue that a bad body day was coming: The shame. Like a hot ball of lava in my stomach, the shame creeps up and suddenly I’m 13 again, pulling down the too-tight shirt given to me after my shirt was ruined at an assembly, while the crowd giggles. I’m 15 and staring at my naked body in a mirror, fantasizing about taking a knife and cutting the fat from my body, because being disfigured was better than being fat. I’m 18 and so proud of myself for losing another 10 pounds, by living on diet coke and hard boiled eggs, and air.
The shame is a familiar feeling for a fat girl. It’s the feeling when you walk into 5-7-9 with your friends and the salesperson looks at you like a troll. The feeling when you go to the amusement park, and pretend to be scared of the rides you aren’t sure you’ll fit on. The feeling when you try to go on one, and get asked to leave over the loud-speaker because your bar won’t go down.
Today I felt that bubbling feeling in my gut again, and I couldn’t fight it away. Today the shame won me over, and I spiraled into memories and feelings and pain like a maelstrom in my mind. Painful words I’d forgotten sprung to mind as if they’d always been there. The man who hurt me during sex, and told me I was lucky to get laid at all. The boy in high school who said I was his dream girl, just not physically. The “friend” who told me I’d have a decent figure except my tits were way too small for my hips. Words I had forgotten. Words that became a part of me.
Fat girls have armor. We shield ourselves with jokes, with self-depreciation. We cast ourselves as the goofy best friend – the back-up singer. We shrink ourselves as much as we can to fit in this world that reviles us because of our physical appearance.
I grew past this stuff. I grew into a woman who loves her body more and more. A woman who ditched diets and disordered eating. A woman who became strong, and smart and confident and blossomed into this beautiful fucking flower. I am a god-damned rose blooming in a desert.
But today that was all for naught. Today all I could do was limp through, and not hurt myself, not starve myself, not hate myself. I made it to bed time whole. My heart aches and I can’t bear my reflection at the moment. But tomorrow I’ll wake up stronger. I’ll have made it through a rough patch. I’ll put on something cute and my hair will flip just right and I’ll think “Dayum I’m fierce.” Because I know that the alternative is too awful to live through.
I bet you have bad body days too. Hang in there. It gets better, and you are not defined by your bad days. How do you deal with your rough days? I’d love to hear your coping techniques in the comments.