Some Negative Thoughts About Body Positivity

There are currently two major body trends at war with one another. One is the same old shit we’ve been hearing for years: thin is in, or “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels,” from the likes of forever-waif, Kate Moss.  The second is the self-love/ love your body/body positivity movement—and frankly, I’m suspicious of both.

Because although I applaud the brave women on Instagram and Facebook who use their imperfections as a badge of honor, I am reminded that even these “plus sized” women still revel in their smooth rounded curves, their perfectly supple, thick, muscular thighs. They bear no resemblance to my own marred body (secretly I’m hoping my friends will jump up right now and say, no, you don’t have a deformed body! But let’s face the hard facts—I have PCOS body).  It’s not that I expect to see an exact replication of “my size,” shape or form. No, I guess I just don’t know if

  1. displaying my body, and or its imperfections to an already voyeuristic society is the way for me to learn body acceptance, or
  2. if a public platform, with all its likes and dislikes, isn’t still seems fundamentally rooted in a “likes = self-esteem” culture.

I get that women want to infiltrate media with real images of women, and I agree—that has to happen, but again, the focus is the body. Is the body positivity movement trying to find a solution in the same way the problem started—by our worth still being contingent upon the general acceptance of others?

I am thrilled that we are beginning to redirect our ideals of the female form to normal bodies, bodes that should be celebrated; but I can’t help but worry that our focus is still in the wrong place, on the female body. We’re still focusing on the outside—and maybe that will be a natural progression of the body positive movement, to slowly make that turn to the valuing of women’s thoughts, ideas and enormous contributions to society, not how we look—one way or another.

As for me, I wish I could say I embrace my body, that I am proud of it, that I have learned to love me just the way I am, but that would be total bullshit. The truth is that I am disgusted by my own skin; the days I don’t indulge in excessively hating everything about my body are the days when I’m just too tired to care. I am glad women are finding the courage and strength to love their bodies—frankly, I don’t know if I will ever be able to feel those things myself. But I am still not sure, they really do either. And maybe that’s not even the freaking point; maybe faking-it-until-you-make-it is good enough.

THE F WORD

I never forget to scan my surroundings when I leave work at night, as I near my car I get my keys ready to plunge into the lock as quickly as I can. I look under the car as I approach—all clear. No one to cut my Achilles tendon as I get into my car. I read about a couple that cut their babysitters Achilles tendon when she was getting into her car. They eventually killed her—after hours of rape and torture. I read about in in a pediatric gastroenterologist’s office when I was eleven, before my first endoscopy. I remember feeling cold fear as I slipped off my clothes, pulling on a scratchy vomit colored gown. Freezing, as cold sweat prickled on my skin like needles, imagining what that babysitter must have gone through. The article said she had begged for her life to no avail—and somewhere inside me I understood that kind of fear and the realization that something very bad is about to—or has happened to you.

It’s been twenty-four years since I began looking under cars, behind bushes and making sure, I always have my keys ready, and eighteen years since the first time I remembered what terrible thing had happened to me, Before I would ever experience the violating plastic tubes of an endoscope or colonoscopy—or the blue gloved hands that would push in on all of my tender places as I lie crumpled with debilitating abdominal cramps, vomiting up bile—and I wonder just how connected those invasions were.

After fifteen years of intense therapy, introspection, and tear-filled confrontations with family members, legal threats, and extreme self-hatred, I can say: I go days, sometimes weeks, even months without remembering, I was ever sexually abused.

My Aunt says, “A soul is still a soul.” Her words shine like flashlights in me. Illuminating all of my dark hurting parts. I don’t want to see these predators, these human stains, as souls. I want them to be scraped off the planet, burned alive in a fire pit. I want them to feel—the pain I have felt from their actions, words, hands, even thoughts. Rage fills my veins, I feel desperate. I imagine him attaching me. I kick and spit at him, justified, self-righteous as I smash their invisible faces into the pavement. But the punishment, in those moments is never enough. Not for violating my peace, not for reminding me that I had to learn to forget…“A soul is still a soul.” Her words stir in me, but I don’t know why—I am truly justified in my feelings. I have a right to what I feel; no one would disagree with me. Her words remind me of mercy and pierce my darkness—reminding me that my legitimate hate, my righteous anger, is still operating out of the same evil that created my pain.

Fat A$$: Life With PCOS

In 1993 my mom took me shopping for stirrup pants at the local K-mart. I picked out teal and black. The smooth spandex material was soft and forgiving, and more importantly—it didn’t rub against the incision the doctors had cut rough the middle of my belly button to remove my first ovarian cyst. I was twelve. I remember soaking in the bathtub later that day, staring down at my smooth white skin. My incisions looked like little disappointed red mouths, torn and open as I slowly picked out the white threads of dissolving stitches, much too soon.

They didn’t tell me much when I was twelve about what having Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome meant; except that severe cramps, sporadic and sometimes heavy menstrual bleeding, and cyst removal surgeries were now part of my lexicon. From what I could tell at twelve—the worst part was the severe, sometimes debilitating cramps and intense bouts of depression. At that age, I didn’t realize that my excessive crying jags, compulsions to commit suicide, and massive appetite were all part of it—or what is commonly called, Pre- Menstrual Dysphoria. Soon, I became aware of one of the most common symptoms, weight gain, despite my eating disorder.

Syndrome X is one of the most common side effects of PCOS, it basically means my body produces insulin but my cells are resistant to absorbing it.  Instead of processing  food for energy—most of it goes straight to my ass, or in my case, my “glug” as I have named it—otherwise known as lower abdomen fat. One way of addressing PCOS obesity is through taking Metformin, which is typically prescribed for those suffering from Type 2 Diabetes—the problem? It makes you have diarrhea, something I already battle every day, sometimes twenty to twenty-five times a day. Other side effects of PCOS can include female pattern baldness, cystic acne, and excessive (male pattern) hair growth, and infertility.

As I understand it, instead of my body releasing my unfertilized eggs each month they collect around on ovaries. Sometimes they dissolve and other times these tiny little eggs feel like spiked balls, languishing in my insides. The presence of one of these eggs can cause weight gain due to the release of hormones, along with bloating, intense bouts of depression and rage, cramps and general abdominal discomfort. Sometimes I think my body will always be spiraling out of control, and me spinning along with it. Bones aching, premenstrual insomnia, joint pain, weight gain, extreme grouchiness, and waves of rage–and that damn puff of fat that is nestled against, me. Clinging to me, begging me to give it the one thing I deny it; understanding.

 

The Dawn of Donald

A few weeks ago I watched a clip of Donald Trump’s verbal assault on Hillary Clinton’s scandalous bathroom break; as I sat on the toilet (thanks to my Leaky Gut Syndrome I typically have taken five to six shits before noon).

This isn’t the first time Don has made comments about periods, poop, and breast feeding; in fact he seems quite taken with women’s natural bodily functions. I always wonder if men like Donald Trump poop, fart, burp, and sneeze. Maybe his shit really doesn’t smell and it’s his godlike existence that gives him the authority to cast aspersions upon the female gender and anyone else that is not a white privileged male. To be really honest, I just wonder if this guy has ever looked in the mirror. With his striking similarity to such notable characters as Donald Duck (think: orange limbs and a suspicious tuft of hair), I have to wonder, where does this guy get off?

As the debate has raged on about whether or not Don is viable GOP candidate I’ve heard numerous news anchors, political pundits, friends, and family tell me: “but he has brought up so many issues that needed to be talked about!” How we did we get here? How did we get to the place in our culture where denigrating women’s bodies are what we consider, provocative intellectual thought? How did we get to the place where childish bullying tactics, like “you’re ugly, fat and disgusting” become what we consider valuable dialogue for our nation’s toughest issues? If Donald Trump were in my nephews 4th grade class we’d be calling him a bully and send his ass to detention.

From verbally assaulting women for breast feeding, to the tired old tripe of accusing a woman of begin on her period when she is assertive and categorically intelligent—Don has effectively  promoted  misogyny like it was hip new slang. And I worry for the message he sends to young men and women—his message of hating anything, or anyone he deems visually unworthy. I worry for the young women out there who consume media messages, and now the vitriol of a politician that espouses superficiality as something to aspire too.

So how did we get here? How did we become a culture that finds offense at the beauty and strength of a real woman’s body—complete with dimples and stretch marks—the battle scars of a body that has overcome, or has given life to another human being?  Maybe we have been asleep too long with the TV on, or busy at the gym, or with the latest diet fad—but now, as things teeter on the brink of insanity—how do keep from losing our damn minds?