Saturday, December 19, 2009
I’ve always been fat. When I was nineteen, I starved myself into skinniness (and suffered numerous health problems, but that’s another story). Without fat to obsess over, I wasn’t sure which aspect of my physicality to hate. After much awkwardness, I finally settled on – hold on to your hat – the gap between my front teeth. For the two years that I remained thin (and ill), I limited the numbers of times I smiled and chatted, especially with strangers. After all, -- gasp! -- they might see the hideous secret lurking in the front of my mouth.
Shortly thereafter, in an English Lit class in college, I learned that in Chaucer’s day, folks considered a gap between the front teeth a sign of ravenous, unbridled sexuality. Woohoo! At the time, I was (inevitably) regaining my weight, and it finally occurred to me how incredibly stupid I’d been to focus on hiding or changing myself when I should be changing the narrow, sickly beauty ideals in our media-saturated, mainstream American culture!
I love my gap now. I honestly feel it’s one of my most charming qualities. And besides, I think Chaucer’s contemporaries knew a thing or two about body symbolism. ;)
I’m fat. Not chubby, not stout, not “overweight.” FAT. That’s not the real story, though. See, I’ve learned to feel quite comfy in my body. I’m not entirely thrilled with every aspect of my physicality every second of every day or anything, but for the most part, I like what I see in the mirror and what I feel when I walk, talk, move, and rest.
Sometimes, though, the weirdest insecurities will intrude on my normally-content and -confident sense of being. One of these crazy, random feelings? Self-consciousness about my back fat. Maybe it’s because it’s not easily viewable for me and therefore seemingly out of my control. Who knows? The self-conscious feeling waxes and wanes, though, which is why I decided to take some pictures of my back fat and celebrate it for all its soft, gooey roundness and unapologetic lushness.
I don’t always love my back and its cushy layer of fat, but I’m on a journey to reclaim the beauty of these soft layers of skin that I can feel but not see, clothe but not hide. These back rolls have a lot to teach me. :)