I've been pretty silent on this topic for a while now, because I sense it makes me seem little other than shallow and whiny, but my feelings of physical self-loathing have not abated. Note: I'm working on it. I know I have a problem. Alas, I'm nothing if not a town crier and this is my space, after all...
To put it out there, I have no idea how much weight I've gained because I don't believe in scales. I believe in fit. I have gained @2 RTW dress sizes since my body started on this journey of change (let's say, over the past 5 years). My stomach is where most of the change has occurred but my upper thighs have also thickened and my breasts have increased by a band size and 1-2 cup sizes, depending on the bra and the time of month. I'm fit and toned (not that fat doesn't obscure tone) and my skin is firm, if not as firm as it was. I won the lottery on that account though - I still look younger than most people 10-15 years my junior. Wonder how long that'll hold out.
Currently, these are my considerations on the matter:
- Life is about transition of all sorts. I have been experiencing this in extreme fashion lately, on all the fronts. This is just one of them.
- Moreover, biological transition is the most non-negotiable sort of them all. Theoretically, from my vantage point of privilege, I can choose not to advance my career, have a child or do a renovation to save myself the stress. Hormone imbalance and physical age are no one's purview (not even Suzanne Sommers, poor thing), though I do what I can to curtail the worst of it.
- I am an extremely critical being. Let's just say compassion cultivation really has got to be my next big thing. I am, and have always been, excessively critical of my appearance. Who knows why? My mother is also critical of her appearance (though she has no reason to be). The Puerto Ricans (maternal heritage) take their presentation very seriously. I have not left the house without lipstick since I was 14. The WASPs, my de facto family (the outcome of a Toronto private school upbringing) are all stupidly thin by nature, with no boobs to obscure that fact. Maybe it's a learned behaviour. Seriously, when I was youthfully svelte and utterly gorgeous (and I was), I still thought I had room for improvement. As my mother likes to say, if you think you look bad in that bathing suit now, imagine what it'll be like in 22 years. (That's our age difference, btw.)
- I've had the opportunity to live with an adolescent whose hormones have quickly changed her body beyond all recognition and have also made her semi-regularly batshit crazy. If they wield this impact on a resilient youth, what hope is there for the middle-aged?
- While I have occasional pain flare ups, things are very good on this front right now and have been for some time. Why on earth I am spending so much of my energy hating myself for my shape when I feel alright is beyond me? And stupid.
- As a follow up to my previous point, I've spent my youth getting to this age and stage (which I secretly always coveted) and I've worked my ass off. On the backbone of sacrifice and compromise, I have a good marriage, a healthy child a quirky house, worth a zillion dollars, in a great neighbourhood (if not a chichi one). Soon (theoretically) it's going to be even more gorgeous and worth 2 zillion dollars. I have a great job. I have an office with a perfect view. I have amazing friends and family. I have health. I know myself. I like myself! I have awesome taste. I can afford to eat at terrific restaurants. Not to mention that all of these things are fleeting and I know it. Why the fuck am I fixated on the fact that I can't fit into my former fat pants?
- Well, I suppose the reason is that, before, I had many of those things going for me (in various stages of development), and I also had an enviable figure. But, more to the point, this experience is making me fearful. I feel entirely out of control. Despite a reasonable lifestyle choices and lots of practical fitness, I'm changing in ways that I can't control and I don't know where this is going to lead. Um death and decay, anyone? Never mind that shit. I look at the all-too-prevalent, squat shape of the post-menopausal woman with disdain. No mind that the ones who avoid that outcome are likely genetically predisposed and/or self-deniers. And I have even more judgement of the self-deniers.
- Furthermore, I think it's fair to say that I have a bit of body dysmorphia happening. Even though I'm of the (likely ignorant) opinion that this is a kind of ersatz condition, I can't deny that I'm obsessed with my body and my perception of its flaws.
- Moreover - and this is in no way ersatz, alas - I do have obsessive compulsive disorder and some deeply ingrained sensory sensitivity. Feeling my clothes, as they currently hang on my body, fills me with legitimate physical revulsion over which I ruminate continuously. It's been happening more and more over the last year and the combo of these things has led to a destructive feedback loop. I haven't yet figured out how to resolve it but I'm working on it. If any of you has any useful feedback, honestly, bring it on.
- Intellectually, I know that my value is not determined by my ability to retain all of the physical entitlements of youth and neither is my appeal. But my identity is going through the fucking wringer and I'd appreciate moving on from the, seemingly-endless, deconstruction to a new state of normal wherein I truly like the way I look.
PS: Next post discusses how I'm managing sewing and my wardrobe to optimal effect. I mean, I'm not a complete wallower...