Monday, May 13, 2013
Mirror Mirror on the Wall, Don't Look at Me Like That, I Just Have Something in My Eye
As the oldest of three girls, I have a lot of responsibilities. When we were younger, these responsibilities included "hey, make sure the gate to the deck is locked so your baby sisters don't walk through it and fall down the stairs and experience serious and painful injuries." So I was seven when I looked up from the backyard swing and watched the youngest tumble down, very slowly and poetically, which I suspect she did purposely to really draw out the consequence of my negligence. She was fine, but it was at that moment that I decided I should probably pay more attention to these small creatures who keep following me to the snack stand.
As we've all gotten older, I am no longer in charge of gate locks. Probably for the best (see the first paragraph.) Instead, my job description now includes pausing Netflix, turning my head slightly to the right and watching one of my sisters, whichever one is suddenly in my room, use many hand gestures and many carefully placed inflections to describe a current situation in her life (the inflections are not carefully placed). And I love this. Okay, wait. No, not the pausing of Netflix part. I am not a saint. I am on the 7th season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I am a human. But I do love listening to them and I love trying to help in any way I can.
This is what I do not love. (A problem is arising. I learned this story structure from 6 and a half seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
I do not love when my mind spins and my insides hurt because my two extremely thin and fit sisters are telling me about how they think their stomachs are too big and their thighs are too huge.
I was in high school once. I was a teenager once. I was a girl at LEAST two times before. I understand hating to feel full. I know that dressing rooms are the enemy. And I've stood in front of my mirror before and cried. Duuuude, we all have. The only person who asked "who is the fairest of them all" and actually expected her name to be the answer was fictional and evil and wore a lot of purple eyeshadow. We have all cried in front of mirrors. And it sucks. It totally sucks.
But I have watched my beautiful, perfect baby sisters hate their bodies. The beautiful, perfect bodies that have been following me to the snack stand and to the playground and to the backyard (negligence) for as long as I can remember.
That. Sucks. Worse.
And I scoff at them for being silly and blind. And I proclaim how all bodies are beautiful and that even models are insecure. And I yell at them for not seeing what I see. And then a huge name tag falls from the heavens, sticks to my shirt and labels me the Biggest Hypocrite in the History of the World.
Right? You'd think the heavens could come up with a more eloquent title.
The heavens apparently know more than you'd think though, despite their apparent lack of creativity. They know I am far from being the "I am totally happy with my body because I am healthy and my BMI is not off any chart and I have all of my toenails" girl. I have cried in front of many mirrors. Which can be hard to admit because, like most people, I like to think that I am the MOST perfect human being on the face of this planet, this planet that is not as wonderful as I.
And then, recently, one sister started crying in front of me. Because she looked in the mirror and hated what she saw. Because no matter what she did, she couldn't lose weight. Because it was killing her.
And all of sudden, I waned to take back every awful thing I've ever said or thought about my body.
I panically wanted to strike a deal with her, that I'd promise to love every section of skin on my being if she would do the same for hers. I wanted to take a hammer to every mannequin that she compared herself to, every boy that looked at her and didn't give the desired response, every person who is in charge of photoshop for magazine covers.
I wanted to change the fucking world. And not even for that noble of a reason. Not because of people dying or global warming or hunger and all that. I wanted to change the world so my sister would stop crying about her thighs. But I could not change the world at that moment.
Instead, I dropped my pants.
And I grabbed a handful of fat and shook it. I jiggled my (jiggly) thighs and yelled "LOOK!" while I bounced a little, which made everything (everything) bounce a lot. And for the first time in my life I stood in front of another person half naked and didn't feel one ounce of insecurity. Every piece of fat that I could showcase was a blessing and a way to get my point across. A point I think I'm still trying to figure out myself:
That I have fat and I am happy. Or, I have fat and it doesn't stop me from striving for joy every day. And that I will never be a model. And that I will never give any of the fucks in the world that I will never be a model. And mostly, that she can stop comparing herself to me because, I have fat (and oh my god, like so much more fat than she has. Seriously, I invite you to look at a picture of us side by side. No, don't do that! Haven't you been paying attention? I will smash you with a hammer.)
I cannot change the fucking world. I cannot rid society of skinny mannequins. I cannot even keep a gate door locked. But I can try to show the small creatures that follow me everywhere how to look into a mirror without cringing or crying. I can demand to see the self esteem in them that I can't always find in myself.
And I can always, always pause Netflix.
...once I'm done with the 7th season.