Good fatty, bad fatty and the gym

When I was about 13, I got braces. Braces come with diet restrictions. Food like candy, gum, corn on the cob, ribs can (or could, when I was in my orthodonture phase in life) snap the wires pulling teeth into place. I remember my mom discussing these restrictions with her friend, who turned to me, grinning, and said “Think, Kim, maybe you’ll lose weight!” As far as I can recall, that’s the first time someone directed a nasty comment about my body to me.
They’re not always that blatant. In fact, they hardly ever are. Last night was an exception. The idea that calling out my body in public is supposed to shame me gets more and more ludicrous, thanks to help from friends and fat activists who show love and support.
What’s more insidious to me is what might be called micro aggressions.
A few years ago, I did a regular workout class with a friend and a trainer at the Y. It was a mix of cardio and weight lifting, and it was awesome. Once, during wall sits, my friend said “Look, Kim! You have ankles now!” The trainer said, “What did she have before?” HE shouted “Canckles!” and the trainer and he had a good laugh.
Not long after that, I started working out at a gym in my building at work. I was trying to keep up with both the cardio and strength training and working in a little meditation at the end to boost my mental/emotional health as well. One afternoon, a woman approached me about my meditation and asked if I was Buddhist. We had a short conversation about Buddhism before she leaned in and said, as if in confidence, “You know, I used to hate my body, too. But you can do it. You can lose the weight.” After that, every time she saw me at the gym she’d give me an exaggerated thumbs up or cheer.
This is why not your good fatty resonates with me so much. It nails the intersection of my relationship with my body and your opinion of it. Whether I am so audacious that I actually walk my fat body down a street or lug it on to a bus, or even have the nerve to drag it to the gym, it’s my body and my business.
I should go to the gym! I have, and I will. But not as performance for you.

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