Possibility and the stories we're not "supposed" to have

I weigh something like thirty pounds more than I did two years ago, the most I have ever weighed, and that's supposed to really distress me, but I have to say, it doesn't.

The bullshit consumer-capitalist/patriarchal messages about why I should be distressed, they make me anxious on occasion. But when I maintain awareness of those messages as external (imposed), I realize that I do not have strong feelings about the size of my body.

I also do not have any sob story about "letting myself go," or not feeling like myself anymore, or not respecting myself, or how I've been just existing, not really living, or any of that nonsense that we're supposed to talk about when we talk about gaining weight.

On the contrary, I feel wiser and more creative than I ever have before — intellectually, artistically — and there is so much vigor in my days. I have never felt so awake in my life.

There is such a poor selection of narratives to choose from when we look at the cultural canon, and not just when we're talking about weight gain. The narratives that we have needed have been withheld from us on the grounds that they would not be useful for selling things to us.

It's quite important that, as we are seeking the shapes of our lives, we do not settle for these pre-fab stories. They are easier, but they do not satisfy. The only stories that can do justice to our lives are the ones we ourselves are doing the hard work of discerning. The honorable truths. Truths whose existence affirm the wideness of what is possible.

And my truth today is that I gained weight, and it was not a fall from grace. I gained weight, and it means little more to me than that I weigh more and take up more space than I did before.

The gap between what our experiences and histories "should have been" and what they actually are — just like the gap between what we ourselves "should" be and what we actually are — is a manufactured illusion. Only what has happened has happened; only what is, is.

The art is in seeing what is, as reality in its own right, instead of merely in relation and subordination to what "ought" to have been. And the art is in the way that discerning and speaking our realities, "allowed" or not, opens reality up wider for others too.

10 comments:

Jenica 3/14/2012 9:00 PM  

Strong and wise.

sui 3/15/2012 12:59 AM  

I feel like my tweet today totally predicted this, AND proved itself.

Why are you so brilliant? Because you have worked hard to be so, and because you shine light onto all of us.

I will most certainly and definitely be linking to this soon. The luminosity of your words screams yearning to be shared and devoured by others, so that they may nourish other hungry hearts, other hungry bodies.

Penny Sociologist 3/15/2012 2:26 AM  

Spot on! Especially could not agree more with this line: "The narratives that we have needed have been withheld from us on the grounds that they would not be useful for selling things to us."

smashesthep 3/15/2012 9:43 AM  

Thanks for sharing. I'm very glad to hear your days are so full of vigor. What a wonderful phase to be in. :)

Kait 3/15/2012 10:58 AM  

Here here! I too weight probably 20-25 pounds more than I did when I graduated high school (two years ago) but the truth is that then I never felt comfortable in my body and I felt guilty every time I ate something and I thought being thin would make me loveable. I'm so much happier now, even though I weight more, and I feel (like you said) wiser and more creative and just more alive, like I am actually living in this body instead of viewing it as this constant project that's never good enough.

zoe (and the beatles) 3/15/2012 2:50 PM  

...i can't wait for our tea date, love.

Michael David Lockhart 3/15/2012 8:00 PM  

Yes, and then yes again. This is monstrously good. Sharing everywhere...

Holly 3/15/2012 11:37 PM  

Jenica - Thank you.

sui - And helped produce! Thanks for pushing and supporting.

Penny - Thank you! I think it's important to realize this, given that we're getting so many of our stories from corporate sources now rather than our immediate communities...

smashesthep - Me too. :) Thanks for being glad for me.

Kait - Preach! Real, present embodiment is such a worthwhile project. And isn't it nice that we don't have to be high-schoolers forever? Srs.

Zoe - Oh, lady, I LOVE meeting people who I can talk about this kind of thing with in person!

Michael - Thank you, muchly. I appreciate it!

Shauntelle @ Being is a Verb 3/16/2012 6:07 AM  

I love you for writing this. I too weigh more than I weighed just a couple of years ago--about 20 pounds more than I did two years ago when I was too small for healthy and about 10 pounds more than I've ever weighed without carrying a baby.

And I struggle with it. I'm pretty sure I'm older than you guys by a bit--just a couple years shy of 40. And even though I've been a feminist since before I knew what the word meant, part of me definitely adopted a certain sense of "okay-ness" in regards to my weight. I grew up hearing women constantly complaining about their weight and dieting... watching food with eagle eyes. And I *knew* I never wanted to be that woman!

I've always loved food and I have eaten, when I was younger, with reckless abandonment way past full, just because something was delicious and because, in a way, I was thumbing my nose at all those women who were constantly watching their every bite.

BUT... I also had a naturally speedy metabolism added to a naturally active nature. So weight never hung on my frame anyway. And at some point, I started to take pride in that.

So now-- even though I'm not overweight by anyone else's definition-- those extra 20 pounds some days feel like a stone around my neck. Not always or every day, but more days than I like. Many more than I like to admit.

So thanks for this--I see it as a reminder and a standard to shoot for.

Holly 4/04/2012 8:05 PM  

Shauntelle - And your presence here is an honor. I relate very much to that feeling of "I don't want to be like them," and of kinda...sticking it to the man by indulging without gaining weight. Working in an office full of women a generation older than me rather than comparing myself to my fifteen-year-old self has made me realize that I still have a relatively fast metabolism. And it's a reminder to me that a healthy metabolism is worth cherishing! I don't want to look back on my twenties and thirties as the years when I irreparably confused my body.

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