Tag Archives: body image

You Want a Social Life, With Friends. (And an apology.)

29 Nov

Hi. Hello. I am here, and I am going to write something.

Before I do, I thought it right for me to apologize for an issue that has been needling me for quite some time now. No, I’m not going to apologize for my six month absence. I might kind of try to explain it though, so hold your horses.

My apology has to do with some things that I’ve written in past posts about fat bodies. In one post, about that terrible wedding I was in, I implied that the kind of awful bride was unattractive because she is fat. I later went on to snidely describe her second husband as “probably weighing 600 lbs”., which again, was my attempt at negating the fact that she found love and marriage for a second time. “Yeah, another person wanted to marry her, but just look at him.” I was saying that without saying it. Probably because I was/am a coward.

In another post, the name and content of which I can’t recall and am both too jittery and lazy to search for, I claimed that proof of my self-love was the fact that I don’t weigh 300 lbs.

I am sorry for writing those things. They are examples of the hatred of fat bodies – including my own – that I’ve internalized from a variety  of sources. I am working at ridding myself of that hate. Tumblr has been a priceless resource in my learning that fat bodies have value, are deserving of love, are beautiful, and can tell us nothing about a person’s health, abilities, or self-esteem.

Surprisingly, no one called me out on the things that I wrote. But maybe someone read my hateful words and was hurt. I couldn’t let that possibility stand without acknowledging how sorry I am, how much I am trying and want to change, and that I am asking for forgiveness. Please forgive me.

I’m leaving those posts up as they are (considering I can’t even find one of them, ugh) and hope that my future pieces will demonstrate my growth and sensitivity since writing them.

Thank you for sticking around as I grow.


 

You Want a Social Life, With Friends

You want a social life, with friends.

A passionate love life and as well

To work hard every day. What’s true

Is of these three you may have two

And two can pay you dividends

But never may have three.

 

There isn’t time enough, my friends-

Though dawn begins, yet midnight ends-

To find the time to have love, work, and friends.

Michelangelo had feeling

For Vittoria and the Ceiling

But did he go to parties at day’s end?

Homer nightly went to banquets

Wrote all day but had no lockets

Bright with pictures of his Girl.

 

I know one who loves and parties

And has done so since his thirties

But writes hardly anything at all.

-by Kenneth Koch

 

I never thought I’d be the type of person to have a favorite poem. I just didn’t think poetry was for me, wasn’t sure that I liked it all that much, the work of Langston Hughes and Shel Silverstein being notable exceptions. And then a few years ago I read Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s 2005 memoir Encyclopedia of An Ordinary Life.

In it she mentions that Kenneth Koch’s You Want a Social life, With Friends is her favorite poem and told a funny story about meeting its author. I read it over and over again, and the next time I was at work, I made a too-dark photocopy and hung it on my fridge.

You Want a Social Life, With Friends resonated with me. I was someone who was chronically lonely, felt confused and like a failure when it came to her career. I was absolutely convinced that “everybody else” had managed to master having fulfilling work, romantic love, and meaningful friendships. I did take solace in Koch’s assertion that “What’s true is of these three you may have two and two can pay you dividends but never may have three.” So, all I had to do – like the Disney villain I am deep in my cold, dark heart – was sit back and wait for my friends and acquaintances to suffer some loss, of a lover, of a job, of friends, because no one can have it all; look, I have proof!

I didn’t really want anyone I knew and liked to lose anything. But I desperately wanted all three for myself, and the poem was a reminder that life is full of sacrifice and compromise and comes without guarantee. Of anything. I remember feeling a chill of foreboding each time I read it after first finding it. I’d find some way to have all three, dammit! I’d beat the odds!

Now, here I am, 35 years old, feeling as lonely as ever; feeling as unfulfilled at work as I hoped to never be.

Part of me believes that there is still hope. That if I can maybe put myself on a writing schedule, something will come of my questionable talent. My current job may even allow me to pursue a second bachelor’s degree in professional writing for cheap or free. The work piece could potentially, someday come together. Maybe.

As far as love and friends? My hope meter is running on empty. Over the summer I did things that made me think “This. This is the moment when the pendulum swung to the other side with such force that I don’t think I’ll be able to move it back.” I let people borrow money, I stopped wearing contacts, and I went on a solo vacation. These events signaled to me that I was barreling towards spinsterhood at a frightening speed.

The money thing was a mistake. I should have known better. I’ve watched enough “Judge Judy” to know that owed money will destroy relationships despite one’s best efforts. Not only have I stopped asking for the money, I’ve stopped communicating with the people who benefited from my foolishness. I don’t think that they’ve noticed. And to be fair, I was – I am – seething under the surface, trying to hide my resentment, my disappointment, how used I feel. I didn’t tell them about my feelings. I didn’t hound them for the cash.

“It’s not fair,” I thought. “They have families and lovers and close friendships and now my money.” I was in communication with them until September, when the people in question suddenly stopped their correspondence. I hoped that I’d hear from them on or around my birthday; they owed me at least that much. I heard nothing. The idea of initiating contact with them makes my heart pound, my gut churn, my hands tremble. The realization that I lent the money with so many invisible strings attached makes me feel ashamed.

How is this a sign of my spinsterhood? I’m like the rich old aunt that never married, who eats store-brand canned soup and has to make it home in time to watch “Jeopardy!”. No one comes around until holiday time, because they know Auntie gives the best gifts, the poor sucker. “I mean, she’s got nobody, hardly any expenses. What does she need all that money for anyway? I’ll send her a card.” The card never comes. I open another can of chicken and rice and set up the TV tray in the living room. Alex Trebek always was a handsome man.

So that’s two friends I’ll never hear from again, or am doomed to have awkward, sporadic contact with when they feel like paying Auntie a pity visit.

The contacts thing and the vacation thing happened simultaneously. I planned a last minute, somewhat haphazardly planned vacation to St. Lucia. I’d never been out of the country alone before and I knew that if I waited until someone could go with me, I’d never travel. I spent five lonely days at a luxury spa. The island was beautiful, the weather lovely, the people damn nice. My tour guide hit on me; it was really uncomfortable, especially considering he did it after telling me that Tyler Perry movies send necessary messages of ‘warning’ to those wacky black women that want to be independent and self-sufficient and in charge.

I met two nice English ladies old enough to be my mother, one also named Ambrosia. We chatted a bit and shared one night of cocktails and a meal together, then spent the rest of the time awkwardly waving to each other across the resort. I was seated at the communal table for other solo travelers on some other night and had an Asian-fusion four course meal with a lady elementary school principal from Canada. It was both better and worse than it sounds.

There was a young, fat, attractive American girl I hoped to befriend. She was alone, was wearing a fatkini, kept her nose in a book. The fact that she made bold fashion choices and liked to read had me sold. She never noticed my smiles, which in all the sunlight and happiness surrounding me may have made it look like I had a bad case of indigestion. I was too chicken to go over and say hello.

On my second day there, I realized that I’d left my contact lens case somewhere in America. I’d recently purchased new, large, bold frames, but have always felt ugly in glasses. I can’t see without either contacts or glasses, so I had no choice. I had to feel ugly for four days in paradise.

I never bothered to renew my lens prescription. I’ve been wearing my trendy glasses full-time since August. On one had, with my nose ring and natural hair, I’m at times convinced that I look okay. Like maybe I know people that live in Brooklyn or smoke weed out of decorative glass pipes or am vegan.

But then other times I’ll catch my reflection in some shiny surface when I’m off guard or try to take a selfie and the person I see looking back at me is a sexless nerd, who read in her hotel room in a foreign, tropical country; who got suckered into lending substantial amounts of money in the hopes that somebody would love her best; who sat and watched other people dance on the last night of her vacation, wearing her ill-fitting glasses while a stray cat took pity on her and kept her company.

I don’t really like that person so much.

She reeks of desperation. Her bug-eyed stare screams “I want a social life, with friends! A passionate love life, and to work hard every day!” I wonder which one of us screams the loudest.

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Lessons in fashion from this girl I hate.

9 Dec
This picture is perfect for this post because he is sniffing his armpits (maybe because they smell like oranges?!?) and is super fashionable. And also, I love him.

This picture is perfect for this post because he is sniffing his armpit (maybe because it smells like oranges?!?) and is super fashionable. And also, I love him. Source

I have done the unthinkable.

I have switched to a mail order, organic, antiperspirant-and-aluminum-free, natural deodorant. That shit burns like a motherfucker and makes my pits reek of oranges, but at least I’m not absorbing all the toxins of commercial deodorant! That’s right, I’m on my way to being toxin free! Please pass the Pepsi-soaked, bacon-wrapped Nacho Cheese Doritos.

In other random announcements, I want to thank the readers (and maybe the good Captain herself?) of Captain Awkward for stopping by, following, commenting, and just being generally awesome people. Thank you for the encouragement and laughs and advice and sudden spike in Internet traffic. I love you and am sending you Jedi Hugs.

And now, on with the rambling, semi-coherent, potentially offensive show!

**************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

I learn something new everyday. For instance, just yesterday I learned that it is possible to simultaneously and suddenly almost fall and vomit while simply walking to one’s car. And no, you don’t have to feel the least bit nauseous or unsteady on your feet! Surprises abound!

It is in the spirit of life-long learning that I must admit that one of the many sources I pull from when it comes to looking my version of good is from this girl I fucking hate.

I can’t go into why I hate her, unfortunately, because it is a pretty great story if I do say so myself, but let’s just establish that there’s this girl, whom I hate, that dresses pretty freaking rad the majority of the time. While I glare at her through squinted eyes and imagine her eventual and well-deserved downfall, I also secretly take notes on her various ensembles and attempt to recreate them in a way that works for my body, personal style, and station in life. God, I hate her so much!

Here are some of the things I’ve learned from watching this pretentious little snot that I try to incorporate into my wardrobe without being such a raging bitch about it:

  • Use Classics as Your Foundation
    I think that those of us who want to push the fashion and style envelope, even just a wee bit, may tend to shy away from classic pieces and silhouettes. We assume that they’re boring or that everyone will have them and the point of cultivating our individual look  is to stand out from the crowd! Well, let me tell you, this girl I hate has a great skeleton of classics that she then adds her own meat and muscle to, if you’ll allow me to indulge in the metaphor. For example, now that the weather has turned cold, she has chosen a simple, knee-length, black wool coat. No mandarin collar, no technicolor puffy-down parka for her. Simple lines, classic cut. She’s in style from winter to winter as she skulks about in that coat, thinking she’s better than everyone. But she’s not! She SUCKS! Anyway, I learned from her example. I came very close to buying a military-inspired winter coat, which, arguably, is a trend that comes around again almost every season, but I instead went with a knee-length wool blend with a classic collar and buttons. However, instead of just basic black, I chose a tasteful leopard print in a variety of neutral shades because I’m not lame like SOME people.
  • Don’t Be Afraid of Color and Pattern
    As a fat woman who is learning to embrace her body as it is, I am discovering how important it is not to stay in the comfortable embrace of head-to-toe solid black. I’m not an Italian widow in mourning; I’m young(ish) and full of life (sometimes)! I want my clothes to express those things. This girl I hate has never met a color or a pattern she didn’t like and isn’t afraid to mix. She isn’t afraid to loudly share her opinions either, no matter how asinine they are, but I digress. Though I’m throwing some of their hard and fast style rules out the window as I cultivate my own, I still have a deep love for Stacy and Clinton of What Not to Wear and fully embrace the notion as coined by them of “It doesn’t have to match; it has to go.” I haven’t yet delved into head-to-toe contrasting or complimentary color and/or pattern, but when I’m ready to take the plunge, this girl I hate has given me many examples of what can work. Recently, she wore a blue and white French (or breton)-striped thin boat-neck sweater, not-quite-Kelly green jeans, maroon dress socks, and Cognac-brown Oxfords. You’re probably raising an eyebrow or two in disbelief, but it worked! Just wish she had the wherewithal to work as hard on not being jerk.
  • Give a Small, Tasteful Nod to “Counterculture”
    I’m not a tattoo fan, but I wanted a nose ring for more than a decade. Last spring I took the plunge and got a little crystal stud that I’ll be changing to a hoop and back again in my nostril. This girl I hate also has a nose ring. If it floats your boat, I think it can be fun and important to incorporate body art and/or jewelery into your overall look. It may be just me, but I think that body art and/or jewelery can also send the message of where one stands on social issues, as this form of self-expression is typically associated with “the left”. I’m sure that’s why this girl I hate has a nose ring. And I’m sure she also thinks she’s a gay rights activist because she had a bisexual roommate once. Ugh.
  • Embrace Your Hair Texture and Experiment with Color and Hats
    After years of chemically straightening my hair, I went natural in 2010 and have never felt more free. People who’ve known me both relaxed and natural have said that embracing my curls suits me better than straight hair ever did. I think I just might believe them! This girl I hate has big, bouncy curls and waves that she used to diminish with the blow-dryer and flat iron, but she’s now embraced her hair’s natural texture. She’ll tell anyone who’ll listen about her “fabulous” hair and is a year-round hat wearer. Not to hide her hair, but as a kicky accessory to accentuate it. The smug expression on her dumb face can be seen peeking out from under floppy brims in the summer and all manner of berets the rest of the year. She also changes her hair color rather frequently, favoring semi-permanent darker shades that won’t be quite as rough on her tresses. Semi-permanent dye will fade and wash away rather quickly, which is perfect for a person who believes relationships to be as interchangeable and disposable as a Annie Hall-inspired hat and a bottle of Chestnut Majesty hair color.

So, there’s a taste of what I’ve learned about fashion from this girl I hate. I didn’t even touch on tortoiseshell frames, the men’s wear influences so prevalent in her wardrobe, or the importance of thrifting! Well, whatever. She’s an insipid twit and I hate her and does anybody know if they make that dress she’s wearing in a 16/18?

I’m asking for a friend.