Our Body Our Self id

I have been thinking lately about how I see myself and it causes me some angst, this has been on my mind a weight on my heart even. I know, it shouldn’t I am a tough old broad, generally not given to inner flights of fancy or brooding about what cannot be changed. My fifty-fifth birthday has come and gone now, I am past middle age and heading towards, well something else entirely.

Why am I noodling this? What am I really talking about; I am talking about Me, Myself, I, Id, Ego; all the things that make me ME. More importantly, I am talking about what I see in the mirror of my mind versus how others judge me when they see me on the street or meet me for the first time. Perhaps even more hurtful it is how those close to me offer up their helpful suggestions and thoughts on my ‘health’ and appearance.

I wonder does it never cross their minds to ask, “How do you feel today?”

Can it be that even those closest to me have decided I made a personal choice and it was to be fat? Do the people who claim they love me honestly think (this is a stretch, the thinking part) this is the look I chose? That I enjoy being laughed at on the street, dismissed as lazy and worse stupid. Do those who profess their care for me truly believe I don’t see myself, know my ass enters the room approximately thirty-two seconds after my boobs? Do they think this doesn’t bother me?

Of course it does you bunch of insensitive social incompetents!

There was a time in my life I wanted to be a Ballerina, I wanted to float across the floor in beautiful flowing costumes en pointe’ making art with my body. Then my body betrayed me, my ballet teacher smacked my breasts emerging like angry beehives from my chest and explained in her thick Russian accent, “No prima ballerina has breasts like a peasant!”

Ten years of grinding practice only to be told my peasant breasts were not the stuff of ballerinas. Nevertheless, I continued to dance, because I loved it. I also took gymnastics, rode horses, skied, ran, played soccer and did many other things all because I loved them. After all, with prima ballerina off the table everything else was on! There were times I brutalized my body, it didn’t matter I just kept going. I tore my knees up; I would walk again long before they healed properly.

I learned many forms of dance from ballet to belly; dance was my favorite form of expression and art. Dance was my heart.

Bang. Bang. Bang.

100 pounds.

That is how much I gained in the first two years after I was shot. Sometimes I lose some of it. Then I have another setback, another surgery or another round of partial paralysis. The reality is I don’t think I will ever lose it, not ever. Before I was shot I had already gained weight, I was in a miserable marriage and I was unhappy, I wasn’t fat but I was no longer thin and perfect either.

I wonder I look at those words and I wonder no longer thin and perfect. What does that mean, perfect in what respect and perfect according to what measurement. Who or what am I measuring myself against?

Now at fifty-five I use wonderful words to describe myself, words like Zaftig, which is one of my favorites. I laugh along with others at the shallowness of a society that would dare to judge me on my dress size without taking the time to value my intellect, my capabilities or my accomplishments. The reality is their judgment hurts. My own judgment hurts truthfully I am diminished by both.

Don’t you want to lose weight?

I am asked this question quite frequently. The answer is always the same, of course I do you nitwits. I also want to live without pain, wake up every morning leap out of bed without any numb spots anywhere on my body. Given a choice, I will take pain free over thin any day of the week. I won’t achieve that one in my lifetime either.

Would I like to lose weight?

Certainly, I would love to lose weight. I would love to shop in stores that didn’t specialize for ‘fat girls’. I would love to go to the gym and not feel ashamed; in fact, I would love to not be afraid to go to the gym.

I would like to go to the gym and take a yoga class where not everyone looked like they just stepped off the pages of Cosmopolitan. Why isn’t there ever a beginner’s class for fat people?

I would like to go to the gym and not feel like an alien, not be stared at as if I belonged somewhere else, anywhere else but there.

I would like for people to see me and not judge me. I would like to look in the mirror and not judge myself.

Why in the hell do gyms have so many damned mirrors anyway?

Kirstie Alley before and after at least she still looks like a woman

I would like to not be asked by those who profess to love me why I don’t lose weight. I would love, just once for someone, anyone who loves me to ask me how I feel today.

I have read so many great blogs recently on the subject of our bodies and social judgment; one stands out in part because as a woman it hit home I hope you will go read Sweet Mother http://sweetmotherlover.wordpress.com/2012/10/03/dear-fat-dudes/

I previously wrote this, a lighter look at the subject. https://valentinelogar.com/category/personal-notes/

The truth  is, this might just be my reality. I can eat the best I can. I can walk on the days I am not hurting so badly it is all I can do to crawl out of bed. I can try to overcome my fear of the gym, but I suspect that one is harder than anyone can imagine. My truth is, I live within the body I have and it doesn’t love me. I don’t fit the world and I don’t have the fight left to force the issue. We are so shallow we are willing to diminish anyone that doesn’t fit our narrow vision of beauty forgetting there is a whole person inside the body we judge not good enough. So today I will cheer for those women like Jennifer Livingston who was brave enough to address the man who berated her for her ‘choice’ to be obese. I wish more of us were willing to stand up to those who are so socially inept, cruel and frankly stupid.

Comments

  1. Val, I WAS a ballet dancer with peasant breasts. I really was. Only at eighteen years old, (100 lbs), I believe I was told I had “Fat old lady boobs.” Strapped them down (not realizing I created mysterious pockets of flesh under my armpits) and made friends with all the nice costume ladies so they could construct panels and other contraptions to conceal my “gifts.” It was not easy, and I blame the emergence of these “D”s for many of my eating issues. When I was suffering, starving myself at an absurdly low weight for my height, I too was called ‘zaftig’ because of being well-endowed.
    I am so sorry to hear about the pain you are in. I think you are beautiful and so is your writing and the way you express all of the above.

    • Lisa, thank you. My ‘D’ emerged at 12 and kept growing. I recently ran across a picture of me enpointe at around 12, I had forgotten how happy I was right then, right at that moment.

      I went through that period when I forced my body into starvation, into skinny. I found those pictures also recently. Funny when some people saw them they thought I was beautiful then.

      I wonder what we do to ourselves and why. In this unfortunate focus on our bodies rather than our minds, our hearts and our spirits; what is lost.

  2. Val, this was lovely and painful and honest. Good for you for having the guts to put it out there.

    I’ve struggled with this all…my…life. After losing 63 pounds I’m now struggling to keep it off. It never ends, and that’s depressing as hell.

    I’m surprised that you get comments about your weight. My husband, who is obese, gets them all the time and It stuns me what casual acquaintances think it’s ok to say to him. I guess I thought it was a guy thing. I always told him women would NEVER be that insensitive to one another. Looks like I was wrong on that.

    As a society we’ve become uber sensitive to everyone’s feelings, not a bad thing, but fat jokes are still allowed. Fat is the last, politically correct target for bullying.

    Hang in there, and keep on celebrating the you that you’ve got!

  3. Loved the post valentine! I live on the other side of the scale. The thin side.! only it seems I am not the right kind of thin! Yes there is a right and wrong thin! So I get asked if I wouldn’t want tyo gain weight, develop assets!!! you know? Its awful – this obsession with ‘society defined perfectness’ ! loved your take on the topic 🙂

  4. Good you being able to write this … and good for Jennifer Livingston inspiring your writing.

  5. You are such an amazing woman, Valentine. I’ve probably said that many times already. But I hope you know that there are people who truly do recognize your spirit and beauty. I really commend and thank you for sharing this story with others. More people need to speak out and that’s when others will learn how to treat others as human beings, not based on their looks.

    • Thank you, I do know there are many people in my corner who see beyond my outer imperfections. I even know those who love me and yet still say sometimes unkind and hurtful things are not saying them to be either unkind or hurtful, they are simply unthinking and inept.

      I think my rant was more to get some of all of us to think about how we see others, how we judge all to often without thinking. Worse, how individually we accept those judgments and by doing so, hurt ourselves. I know I take it all in and all on. I know I have judged myself and beaten myself up. It makes it harder.

      • It’s a good reminder to all to be more cognizant of how we instinctively judge others. And I understand, I have beat myself up many times when I probably shouldn’t have and because of others’ negative influences.

        • Valentine Logar says:

          I think we all do both, allow others to define us and instinctively judge others. We should not do either, it is hurtful and harmful.

  6. WordsFallFromMyEyes says:

    Zaftig?? Never heard of that!
    I had no idea you had been shot. There must be one helluva story behind that. I am truly sorry. As for paralysis – it comes & goes?

    Valentine, even if you do take extra pounds to the grave, it just isn’t truly truly deeply important. To myself, losing weight is important in that I have let myself go – I know I have. Last year, I genuinely felt ‘I will make it through to Daniel’s age 18, then I will get a bedsitter & work & eventually die’. I had no will to LIVE, actually LIVE. So to ME, losing weight is lightening myself, coming back to me, caring for myself again.

    Yet, ultimately, I don’t think we need to stress so much about kilos etc. I don’t think people should ask you ‘Don’t you want to lose weight?’ What kind of question is that? It is to me like asking, ‘Don’t you want blonde hair (it’s in fashion these days)?’ I am really sorry people ask you that “all the time”.

    It’s great you’re so straight up, I really enjoy your words & thoughts. BILLIONS of women (some men too) would relate, I reckon.

    • Noleen I suspect each of us have our own reasons for wanting to lighten up. Health is certainly the best reason. I keep thinking to myself if I could lose some of the weight then some of the pain issues would be not so terrible. This may or may not be true.

      You my friend have so much to live for, your brilliant life is only just beginning! I do hope you see this.

      As for being shot, you can read all about it under the Crime & Punishment category. I tell the entire story just go to the early postings.

  7. Thank-you for such an honest discussion here Valentine. When people judge others (and yes I have been judged) I say that it is a reflection on THEM rather than on us. There is so much more to you than your appearance and I for one love your smart posts!

    • Yes Christy, it is certainly a reflection of the other person. Unfortunately it still hurts, doesn’t it. I suspect there aren’t many of us standing upright, especially if we are women who haven’t been judged and found wanting at some point. We either grow a thick skin or we internalize, for most of us I am guessing we internalize.

      Thank you, I love visiting your poetry!

  8. I love you no matter what, Val. I don’t care what size you are. You’re a beautiful person and that is what matters. So many people look at the outside of a person and judge them, missing the true beauty that is within.

    • Thanks Deb, I love you as well you always open my eyes. I agree we are a society that seems to judge and fails to look beyond the obvious. I think this is what brought this one on, it has been a tough few months.

  9. This is something we’ve all struggled with and some of us, ahem, continue to struggle. I have dreams and there’ve been times I’ve lost some of the weight–but those times don’t seem to last, as I fall off the wagon so easily. Sigh. It’s the never ending battle.

    • It is the strangest thing isn’t it Monica, that so many of us are imperfect and yet we continue to be defined by that version of perfection that is un-achievable. Even when I was small, it was unnatural for my body type and I was constantly fighting to retain my size to be socially acceptable and ‘perfect’.

      My natural body likely isn’t a size 6 or 8, I was born with T&A. Those weight charts and size charts are ridiculous. But still as women we allow them to define us. The best I ever felt, in my life I was still 30 lbs heaver than the weight chart and I wore a size 12. I would like to get back to that.

  10. I love you no matter what. And I fight with the fat woman I see in the mirror every day. I do. But I still keep trying to do my best . . . nothing else we can do, eh? I’m sorry hun–I do understand.

    • You my friend are my hero, somehow you fight through physical pain to achieve what I wish I could do. I don’t know how you do it. I wish I could find that courage, somewhere I lost it.

      I love you also El

  11. Val – this jjust pained me to read.and I dont know what to say – I certainly have no words to make it all better -it is sad that people who fall on the farther ends of the spectrum either way in any way from what is “the norm” are inundated with well wishes and caring comments – tell em to suck eggs – no wait that isn’t enough, ask them – dont; you WANT to be a caring sensitive human being – did you choose to be a asshat alien jerkface…..

    wow I just got a little upset thinking about it sorry…. but aside from that,
    How are you feeling today?
    ❤ Lizzie
    p.s. you are beautiful – the whole package that makes you you…

    • Lizzie – I think I will try that, if nothing else it will shut them up for the day.

      Today I am a 3 on a scale of 1 to 5. Since 3 is my norm I am fine today, thank you so much for asking.

      XX Val

  12. You are sooo beautiful, Val…& your body doesn’t have ANYTHING to do with it.
    Are you serious that people have asked if you wanted to lose weight?
    If somebody asked me this, I think I would tell them to F-off. How Dare Them!
    Whatever your reality is, IT. Is. Yours.
    All Yours.
    Kisses from Minnesota. xx

    • Thank you Kim, so much.

      Yes of course they do and these are the people who love me. I get they love me and sometimes ask out of concern. Sometimes they ask because they are just plain inept though. I try, I really do try not to say to them;

      Please walk a mile, just one in my body. Please wake up just one morning in my body. Please spend just one day in my body. Please just one day I would wish for you to undress at night and count the bruises you didn’t know you got because you bumped into things but you didn’t know because those spots are numb. Please spend the day sitting in meetings where you hurt so badly you want to scream but you have to sit there, smiling because you are the primary source of income and if you don’t you won’t be bill that week. Please, just one day drag your luggage and you laptop through the airport and sit on a plane for a few hours, no you don’t get to take painkillers you have a meeting at the other end. There is a much longer list, but that will do. Those are just some of the things I would like to say to the people who love me and ask if I wouldn’t like to lose weight.

      I can’t say F*You to them. They love me, I think. They are insensitive asshats sometimes. They don’t know better and they forget what my body has been through because they don’t wake up like I do and I forget to tell them, maybe because I am tough and don’t like to remind them.

      Much love back

      Val

  13. As a person who has watched her mother try diet after diet, I can kind of understand this. I know my mom was once slim and beautiful. She was a dancer and expected to be perfect in her hand-made dresses. It frustrates her that she can’t do everything that she used to. She gets tired more easily and her joints ache.

    That said, she’s also 70+ years old! Like you, she is a spark-plug and she won’t stop.

    I know she looks in the mirror and feels dissatisfied by the reflection she sees there. I can hardly imagine the frustration because it sounds like much of the weight gain occurred after you were shot. And living in chronic pain doesn’t make a person exactly want to jump out of bed in the morning. Stay strong, Val. You are an inspiration.

    But you already knew that, right? 😉

    • I can empathize with your mother, I truly can. I fear being 70 and feeling the way I do. Not just the pain but the health issues that go with weight. You are right, the gain came after the shooting along with the loss of activity. It is frustrating and at times demeaning.

      I am happy, glad I inspire. I hope for that.

  14. Val you are beautiful, thoughtful, creative, smart. That’s who you are. We do need to trim down our tendency to judge others based on all kinds of things, and weight is right there at or near the top of the list. There is all too much negativity in the world over things that are really nobody else’s business.

    I too am zaftig as a result partly of illness — serious GI problems. And partly because of depression eating. When you feel crappy, why not have a bit of chocolate to feel better. And then some more ..

    I just started seeing a dietitian to see if changing my eating can help my digestive system feel better. That’s the first goal. Then losing weight would be nice…

    • I don’t think the issue is weight, I think the issue is being judged and then self judging. Agreeing to the judgment of others.

      I know there are health issues and I need to deal with these. I need to give a big fat finger to the people at the gym who make me feel bad for being there. I need to take control of this part of my life, for my life, my health and my future. Like you some of it is depression and I know this, it is cyclical.

      But for me, I just get back to the idea that we accept the judgment of others, even embrace it. This is so terrible.

      • It’s true, we do accept those judgments. Sometimes in a society that’s a good thing; it adds to the cohesion and the sense of belonging. Sometimes it’s not so good.
        And that’s why I’m on my treadmill in the basement, commenting on blogs instead of at a gym!

  15. Speaking from the man point of view, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. You are a beautiful woman not for just the outside, but you’re a beautiful woman because you’re a beautiful woman on the inside. Be who you are. We are only here on this Earth a short time. Enjoy every minute of it. You didn’t choose to be in pain. Looks fade and the body breaks down over time. But the one thing that can’t be taken away is your strong spirit!! Walk tall, walk hard, and give this world the best you that you can give. It won’t go unnoticed or unappreciated.

  16. You Know Val I wrote you a very long reply via my phone link this morning as your update came via email link, at around 6 30am as I was just up at work after a late shift and sleep in – but didnt get much sleep lol.. I went arrgh as I posted send and the page on phone needed refreshing and so the reply was lost… ArggggH!
    patience is the key today, soooo here I am again on Laptop which is running as slow LOL… so I try again..

    You know Val we all look at our reflections and I can point out all the things I do not like about my self and I was born in 54,, I was the opposite always thin and skinny at school, no boobs, and was teased and called Twiggy, .. A compliment some may say being as she was a great model in the 60’s but to me I saw myself in a different light and never liked my body..

    It wasn’t until a couple of yrs ago that I really started to SEE ME, and not the me that looked back in my shape or form, but the ME inside of me.. and thats who I see now.. and thats who I needed to get to know and accept…

    If we were all the same, what a boring world it would be and we may as well all then be clones..

    I dont think anyone is ever happy with the way they look,, Because deep down the outer trappings are not who we are.. We are more than our reflections.. We are Spirit within our bodies…
    When I look at you I see a very Trendy Lady, who has style and confidence and who is extremly inteligent …
    I also see beneath the layers into her heart.. and to me those who do not see the real you, the caring you, the soft side of you are blind…

    To me Val that is what matters the most.. YOU! the Inside ID you…
    next time you look in the mirror, look for her… and say Hi …. and smile, because she is one Beautiful Lady

    Hugs to you my friend xx
    Sue xxx

    • Thank you Sue, as always you hit me between the eyes where I need it. I am trying to find that inner spirit that will restore and refresh me. This has been a tough year of reflection and introspection. There is much work to do and some of it is very difficult, still shoveling the piles out and it is stinky business you know.

      Much love and hugs

      Val

  17. You made a lot of great points in your post, and hopefully gave people a lot to think about. That Jennifer Livingston story amazes me – both the unmitigated gall it took for that assclown to criticize her for her weight, and the character it took for her to respond as she did. Those of us who are not perfect in our sizes or shapes (and let’s face it, that’s the vast majority of us) are already keenly aware of the things that might not be ideal on our own bodies. But how that affects anyone else’s lives, or becomes anyone else’s business, is beyond me.

    • I think the Jennifer Livingston story inspired many people to think hard about our views. She was wonderful in her response. I have seen a number of different responses to the story, from supportive to ugly. I wonder what prompted the man to write in the first place, what went through his head when he sat down and wrote that first letter, did he think he was doing her a favor?

      More important though, how did we get to the point socially where we are so willing to be so ugly? To stigmatize people who are imperfect? Who set this ideal? Does anyone realize it is a nearly impossible ideal and one that stigmatizes at least 90% if not more of the worlds female population. Why do we accept this?

  18. Dad said when I first came home I would always struggle with weight around my hips and thighs – mom thought he was nuts saying that about a baby…of course dad was right – he delivered hundreds if not thousands of babies in his career and watched them grow up…a large part is what you were born with – and what has happened to you – that impacts your daily life – it isn’t just will power.

    Take care…

    • I am fully my mother and fathers child. Born to always have T&A, no dispute there. A classic hourglass figure. I would just wish that figure wasn’t quite a 24 hour and would return to 1 hour it was 20 years ago.

      I know much of it is genetics. I know the bruising of my ego is my internalization of what others say, how they look at me as I walk down the street. There are days I want to work harder, work through the pain and other days, well I want to throw my hands up and say WTF, give up and it is losing battle.

      Unfortunately I have more of those days lately.

      • Judgement whether by words or looks suck. I don’t know anyway to tune it out and I am sorry you are being subjected to that. I have always been very self-conscious and beat myself up enough – I wouldn’t need others making me feel bad. Hugs…

  19. If you do try surgical intervention, be sure the person doing the cutting knows what he’s doing. We see these celebs on tv who have had it, and they look great; my friend who had it appears to be gaining! even though I’m sure she doesn’t eat enough to be healthy. She might still be eating a lot of the wrong things, but a suspect her doctor is largely to blame for her lack of weight loss.

    Aside from that, I’ve always been short, and as I age, must be losing height as my pants legs now require 3 folds instead of 2 (I hate hemming!!). Fortunately, I married a man with a long reach, so dangerous footstools and their ilk are seldom a part of my life now.
    It’s somewhat embarrassing when I’m in a group for other short people to stand beside me and audibly compare heights. Even the ones who are shorter never admit it!

    A brave post, and one many of us can identify with on several levels. Bravo!

    • I can absolutely relate to the short issue as well. My entire family is taller than I am and make me the butt of many of their jokes. When I began to gain weight as well, I did not hear the end of some of their cruelty. Wonder what it is about families that make them believe they are exempt.

      I am almost at the age where no doctor will even consider surgical intervention. Add to this most insurance plans don’t cover this option, thinking it is a vanity issue and not a health issue. Strange that one since penile implants are covered under most of the same plans.

  20. As with weight and every other ruler we use to compare ourselves to others, I cannot understand why it is important to anyone how another person looks. No-one considers genetic, physical, psychological reasons why a person is the way they are. The bottom line is: what gives ANYONE the right to stick their nose into someone else’s life? You don’t know them so shut UP; butt OUT.

    • Don’t we all wish we could be so brave, all the time? But I still live in the world that does indeed judge and unfortunately harshly at times. It is a hard world when despite my very real accomplishments I still lose work because my Butt doesn’t fit their chair size.

  21. why am I here in a handbasket? says:

    I don’t think it matters if you’re overweight or underweight. People feel a great need to comment on your personal appearance. Perhaps when they look in the mirror, their reflection is perfect. I highly doubt their observation but I can’t think of another reason. I stopped for a drink with some friends the other day and as I was leaving, a woman sitting behind me yells my name and says “your hair is SHORT”. Good observation. It’s a pixie cut and couldn’t be any shorter unless I shaved it. Funny thing is, this woman carried on a conversation and I didn’t even remember who she is.
    Why comment? Because society as a whole has a vision in their pea brain of what an ideal woman should look like. If you don’t fit into that “Barbie” mentality, long flowing hair and pencil thin, you’re flawed in some way.
    I say a big fuck you to that. I’m happy with who I am and what I look like.
    I wish the same for you.

    • Most days, well I just don’t pay to much attention and hope for the best. My skin is pretty good, I don’t have many wrinkles that aren’t in fact laugh lines, I also have short hair and it is colored whatever suits that month. I have a great wardrobe that suites my inner wildchild. I still have great shoes and still dance now and again.

      I agree, people feel the need to comment. People suck. I wasn’t ever destined to fit the mold. Genetics had something else in store for me, but those shots in the dark took my choice to battle genetics into at least something bordering on acceptable. Now and then I would wish this didn’t bother me so much.

  22. Such an honest post. I get frustrated by the blame that gets placed on overweight people alone. Weight gain doesn’t happen in a vacuum. The food industry has researched and maximized the best ways to entice people to eat more and more of the unhealthy stuff. There are studies that support this. The right combination of fat, sugar, and salt triggers dopamine release in the brain and other feel-good chemicals. Yes, personal behavior is important, but that is not the only piece of the puzzle. I have a particular interest in this area, and if we are to combat the problem of America’s ever-burgeoning waistlines, it will require change on multiple levels. Telling people to just eat less clearly doesn’t work.

    By the way, Valentine, how do you feel today? 🙂

    • Thank you Carrie, for you comment and for asking. On a scale of 1 to 5? I am a 3 today, that means it is a normal day for me.

      The funny thing? I have a fairly good diet. People don’t realize if you go from an active life style to an inactive one the weight will pile on, you can’t eat your same calories. That is what happened to me originally. It wasn’t that I consumed thousands of calories, or ate lots of fast foods or processed foods, I didn’t. It was simply that I didn’t more for 2 years.

      Short of surgical intervention I don’t know that I could cut enough calories from my diet to make a difference. Believe me there are days when I really consider this an option.

      • Very true. If one can’t exercise because of pain or other limitations, it can be very difficult to decrease calories enough to promote steady weight loss. The body has a set point, and it wants to stay there. Even when one makes healthy food choices like you.

        Here’s hoping tomorrow will be a four or five. 🙂

        • Eek, no no if it is a 4 or 5 that means I have to resort to painkillers. I always want to be at 3 or lower.

          I was born to have T&A, I get that. I fought the hourglass my entire life. That set point sucks, it set way over the top of social comfort level. Now my choice, well it is to laugh it off or cover my mirrors.

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