I’ve been listening to Lindy West reading her book Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman, “Being fat, happy and in love is still a radical act.”
I maintained a weight that makes me wince when I look back at photographs. At my skinniest, I looked like I’d recently escaped from a concentration camp. My head looked too big for my body. My bones stood out at wrist and ankle. My ex once complained about my hip bones. During my thirties, I hit a comfortable medium while pinging between size 12-14. In my forties and fifties I’ve gradually moved up to size 18. I am not unhappy overall (but I would like to have a flatter stomach) as I gained in both bust and booty.
I am too sedentary. My personal goal is to be healthier at whatever weight by body chooses for itself. I am trying to eat better/healthier, drink more water, and move more. I’ve never enjoyed exercise, so I’ve been looking for thing I can enjoy. I like for long beach walks (in bare feet) and flat or nearly flat hikes. I like Qi Gong, but don’t have space at home to do it. I hate sweating, especially when my scalp drips. I might go back to gardening. I use the stairs, using the elevator to go up – most of the time. I’ve set a step goal that I intend to keep increasing.
Having said all that, I am not free of knee-jerk reactions to weight and appearance issues. I wish I had the metabolism of my “youth.” (I’ll be 56 years old next month.) I judge other people on appearance and am as visual as anybody else. I try to look at their style rather than their body type. I stop myself from voicing negative comments and try to redirect to something positive. I compare people in groups and couples against one another. Dating after my divorce involved a lot of self-promotion. I limited my dating pool by comparing myself both to the competition and based cultural messaging. I didn’t believe I’d be a “status” girlfriend. Someone actively shopping for a relationship is looking for value … and value is mainly a trifecta: youth, thinness, beauty.
So, two disparate individuals who meet doing something other that dating who wind up together is a possibility. But our friendships and romantic partners contribute to our social status … either consciously or unconsciously. The most obvious example, of course, is the wealthy older guy and the beautiful trophy wife. And then came the cougars.
Women are developing their own voices. And, we are becoming both more self-accepting and less judgemental. I’ve gone the opposite way. I resent anyone who suggests diet or lifestyle changes to someone who is overweight … not just to me. I still think some styles and activities are best suited to different body types. That, however, is as much based on interests and abilities as it is on appearance.
“Love is status” has two meanings for me: I base my self-esteem on social approval. I use my relationships to denote my success. I’ve stopped censoring myself (while checking the deliberately hurtful). I’ve stopped worrying about my weight (most of the time). And, I believe I deserve love and loving relationships. When who we are matters more than what we own, who we know and how we look, we’ll all be happier. I call it contentment.