body work

my body SOM

I went on a beach retreat this past weekend. It was good and intriguing and stimulating. I feel really grounded and supported now. I’m not sure if I have new friends yet, but I at least got to swim a little in the Gulf of Mexico and be reunited with an old friend who moved to where we were staying. And, you know, get some spiritual downloads and healing and community. AND, beach time!

I may blog about my experiences later, but this is about my body, my fat body.

Ever since I came down to Florida, I got gwith a car and without a car. And the photos I saw of myself–I didn’t like them. I didn’t recognize myself.

These days, I’m rarely in situations outside of the land of selfies to see my whole body. It was really bewildering to see.

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So that’s me at the labyrinth at the Dali Museum in St. Pete. I loved it in there!

Sidenote: my retreat leader said that first pic with the sun on me is an orb. ” An angel is on your shoulder!” she said. I don’t even remember feeling that.

Anyway, I actually don’t mind the first two pics. It’s the last one. One of my retreat mates took it soon after I had ordered her to go sit with the others so I could take their pictures. It’s not a flattering picture, IMHO, even though I at least look really happy.

So, in this post, here’s what I’m not going  I’m not going pick my body apart. I’m not going to say I need to lose weight. I’m not going to say anything else negative. I’m just trying to semi-publicly wrestle with my self-image. I look like a Ghanaian woman, to be honest. My cousins on my mom’s side are around this size. I’m pretty sure I’m the average size of an American woman.

It’s just been weird to see myself from when I graduated grad school, probably 50 pounds lighter due to poverty and then looking at myself now. It’s good to reacquaint myself with this wider me.

There’s other stuff too–the PCOS acne/bacne. The hirsutism. The bloating. It’s just not things I’m used to, especially not being on the meds I’d take for PCOS.

And there’s that I look so much like my father. I don’t think my father is ugly, though. I think he’s a handsome man. But there’s a bit of an internal war when I see how much I look like him vs. how much I really don’t like him as a person, even though I have compassion for his mental health issues and how hard it was to acculturate into a white supremacist American culture as a doctor. It broke him. I feel that and acknowledge that.

But my body–my seemingly unwieldy body that isn’t that active but isn’t eating too terribly anymore. Even that sentence is very judgmental. It’s a body. It’s mine. It has carried me through so many traumas and triumphs. I’m really grateful that it has brought this far. I only want to be healthy–whatever that means for me. Healthy doesn’t necessarily mean skinnier, either.

At this point, I’d definitely want to be more active and eat more fruits and vegetables. The former is tougher (not enough safe space and it’s hot and rainy out), but the latter is happening. That’s really all I care about.

I’m so grateful for the many voices on Twitter when it comes to true body acceptance, especially for @OK2BeFat. That account has challenged my own perceptions of fatness and where one’s self-worth should be. Our society has made it so easy to judge each other and ourselves based on our bodies, to varying degrees: skin color and tone, gender expression, height, weight, hair texture and length–and on and on it goes.

It’s OK to be fat. And I am fat. 🤷🏾

Sidenote: I have to say–I don’t know how other people see me, though. My weight doesn’t usually correlate to how people perceive how much I weigh. I don’t know if I’ve being treated differently. Obviously, it’s a big issue.

I love the woman walking in the cool labyrinth, looking forward to the journey within. But do I love the woman with her hand on her hip, tossing her head back in laughter after she had a fierce queenly scowl? I do. I want to say “of course I do!” especially since the weight came on during an intense stressful period with very little support. But even if the weight came on during a happy marriage or a pregnancy or a fun-filled vacation…or through no joy or sorrow at all–my weight isn’t who I am. I don’t mean that in a dissociative way, either. I mean that as I am a spiritual being having a human experience. We all are.

Do I want to be less fat? Sure. But if it doesn’t happen, I’m more at peace about it, either way.

It was interesting to go into the Gulf of Mexico yesterday in a two-piece retro-inspired swimsuit. High-waisted with an underwire top. I was thinking about thinking about how I looked. I wasn’t really thinking about it as much as I thought.

As I pulled off my light cotton cover-up, I walked in the powdery white sands with a retreat mate and was greeted by the surprisingly cool aquamarine waters of the Gulf that almost drowned me as a teenager over 20 years ago. I hadn’t been in there since. I had lost my float, though. Or maybe I wasn’t calm enough to float.

But in the water, my size didn’t matter. Out of the water, my size didn’t matter.

I could use my weight as an excuse to not love myself fully, to not find a life partner, or new friends, or anything else that I wanted. I use excuse as a word just for me because this society is fatphobic as fuck. It’s very discriminatory and unflinchingly cruel to fat folks.

We collectively are.

I’m really OK, in my body, right now–even if I don’t feel like it. OK means–valuable, accepted, loved, adored, worthy, all those fucking fabulous superlatives. I do not have to hold my breath and wait for the weight to come off and then all this good will come.

“I’ll start loving myself if–”

“I’ll wait to start that new business because–”

“I won’t fully accept myself until–”

No. There are no conditions for love, for good. I don’t need to fix myself. Good can come right now. I can go seek the good right now.

My body is precious and valuable. And that’s that.

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