I use the word fat in here. It kinda triggers even me. I do this deliberately to try and break down my unpleasant stereotypes. Tread lovingly with yourself here.
This is the tail-end of the marathon-three-days I spend at work/school. I should be at school this second, half an hour into class, but I dropped my bike off and they're keeping her for a week, which kind of broke my stride, and I'm sitting down and that feels amazing, and since about noon today I've really been wanting to write something.
I've been poly for a long time, and I've learned to erase some cultural norms from my psyche and to set aside others in order to do that. I know I'll likely always feel weird sneaky traces of poly guilt, for instance, which results in my believing that any given person is better off partnered to a monogamous person than to myself. This just sits there deep-down, despite my knowing that I am better off partnered to people who have other things going on in their lives (whether those other things are people or different passions) and despite being genuinely happy for my partner's pleasure when they're in a safe happy situation with another person.
I've also been skinny all my life. I don't feel skinny nowadays, I feel "normal" and sometimes jiggly and weird, but during adolescence and through my early twenties I was this same height, 5'8" or 5'9"ish, and 110 lbs, 120 max. That's really pretty skinny. In the last bunch of years I've gained both buoyancy and muscle to the tune of 20 or 30 lbs, topping out at my maximum weight when I'm in very good shape and literally sheathed in inches of muscle, getting softer and wider and dropping weight when I'm in poorer shape. And till a couple years ago I've always slept with tall skinny computer geeks with ponytails, basically.
This is a tangental way of approaching the idea that I've never had to deconstruct my ideas about fatness, though I have had to pull apart other received information like that about relationships. I've been the butt of hostility in the past ("skinny bitch" and "beanpole") but those days are over too.
Oof. This is hard to write. I'm not proud of this.
So, not thinking of this, and then diving into a really intensely hot sexual relationship with Angus (who has tended to carry 'a couple extra pounds' since I've known him) and then with Michael (who is more than twice my weight) I managed to be a total dickwad.
I have to be brief because this hurts to write. Think about this situation:
I meet Michael. We start sleeping together. I find him very hot, the way he thinks, the way we interact, but also his body itself, just the way his thighs feel and the line from his shoulder to his hip and his hands and the texture of his skin and the everythingness of him. And I keep saying to myself, not mindfully at all but in bemused wonder: I never would have expected to feel this way about you
. I would say, in with that same bemusement, you are so fucking hot
. And I didn't think about it.
And I would forward all this stuff about overeating and the obesity epidemic and whatnot because I'm pretty involved in food activism. Aaaaaand... finally the incongruity hit me. I poked at this in my head for a couple weeks, like a sore tooth, and realised what was going on. I was saying I never would have expected you to be hot because you're fat
Except it wasn't graceful like this. After all this subtext, after accepting all these unspoken and unconscious endings to my sentences and not walking out on me, Michael had to endure a conversation where I basically said, "I don't know how to reconcile your body type with me thinking you're hot, any pointers?" and it hurt him pretty bad because, face it, it was maybe one of the jerkiest things I've done in my long career of being a dick.
So he was hurt and got quiet and I took it away and thought about it some more. And after a bit I stopped using the subtext. It stopped being woah, I'm shocked that you could be hot
and started being just, you're hot
. That made me happy, but I wasn't really sure what was going on in my head. Then today someone made a post on facebook and I grasped something more consciously.
It's true that carrying a lot of weight is a health risk.
It's true that stressing over things is a health risk.
It's true that working a desk job is a health risk.
Driving in a car is pretty goddamn dangerous, actually.
Smoking, drinking from plastic bottles, all sorts of things: health risks. In fact, cancer is the leading cause of death in Canada. Then heart disease, in which weight is definitely implicated
. But, you know, people die, and statistics are statistics. No one actually chooses a mate by running a statistical analysis of everyone in the room and taking the person most likely to live a long time or we'd all want to date Japanese schoolgirls...
So the next argument, and one dear to the food movement, is that fat people are socially irresponsible because they do something which makes them unhealthy and thus a burden on health care and the rest of society, etc. The usual rebuttal to this is: we've all got our vices, so if you conflate attractiveness with health with skinniness, then also conflate attractiveness with health with nonsmoking AND not driving on dangerous roads AND not drinking to excess AND to not getting sunburns AND to using only glass containers and organic food AND teflon pans AND etc etc or you're a hypocrite.
But I've realised that it's much simpler than that for me, suddenly.
I find some people, and some bodies, maddeningly earthshatteringly attractive. I find some people and some bodies very much not. I don't control and can't anticipate this attraction; it's a gift when it's put in my hands.
And, separately, I worry about the economics of health: health care; the high cost of good veggies; eating well; desk jobs; yes, high fructose corn syrup and the subsidy pressure from the agroindustrial machine to maintain a steady cheap supply of that rather than fresh fruit and veggies and by the way more veggies would mean more farmers instead of more jobs where people sit down and that's socially unacceptable; and in the same category
a lack of biking infrastructure and pesticides and the lack of self-worth driven by our lack of worthwhile projects to break our teeth on and thus teach us how to be effective in the world and how that leads people to do stupid self-harm or self-risk to fit in; a poor definition of health overall; no actual value placed on a culture where people can share knowledge about how to live well or have socially-sanctioned conversations about same; epidemic depression, the list goes on and on and on.
These two things, what we find attractive and what we approve of morally, are rarely connected and in fact often backwards-wired as per the girls-like-bad-boys stereotype. So it's really not cool what we do: we project all the guilt for our broken food culture and food system onto the people who bear the most visually obvious symptoms of it, then we use the threat of sexual and romantic rejection, which really drives to the core of our happiness as humans, to try and get them
, any them
that's not us, to make it go away. And we dangle romantic acceptance and sexual fulfillment as the carrots gained for successfully putting that societal skeleton back in the closet where we don't have to look at it. But, that's getting a little meta. My real point is merely the separation.
So there's how I was a dickwad with my projected shit and my inability to treat a human like, you know, a person instead of as a social issue. And that's why I try to be mindful about it now. And it's kinda incoherent because I've had a long week, but I really really needed to get this out. And I'd really like people to respond to it if they have something to say, gently if possible, because I need to hear the voices of my friends on this.