My best friend when I was growing up was a blonde, blue-eyed, egomaniac. She was very beautiful and at the same time deeply insecure, manipulative, and troubled. Guess which traits everybody talked about?
It was a conspiracy. Teachers, parents, our friends– it didn’t matter what she did. She once read my diary aloud to the guests at my birthday party. She even stormed out of my house immediately after doing it, angry that I had written about her most recent act of previously mentioned egomania. Angry at me. My mom said I should apologize. Judas! But, I couldn’t blame her. She was but one of the many who’d sworn allegiance to Beauty, and I was the worst of them all.
I spent hours on the phone, talking Beauty out of her latest insecurity. Her eyes were too far apart. Her pores were too visible. (“What are pores?” I wanted to ask, but didn’t want to risk the retribution that would surely follow.) She’d recently started shopping at a particular store in the mall, and I had better start too, she said. Also, we needed to start working out, because she suspected that we had too much arm fat.
When she said it, it became real. I had “arm fat”. Even though I’d never noticed it before, other people were noticing it, and judging me! Beauty had it figured out: being beautiful is how to get people to like you. Therefore, it was the most important thing there was.
I’m a grown-up now. Sort of. Anyway, I have business cards. I’d like think of myself as a thoughtful person who is essentially allergic to bullshit. But then something happens, somebody says something, and then all of a sudden it’s like, maybe I should just order a salad. (Then I cancel the salad and order cheeseburger instead, but we’ll talk about Eating Our Feelings another time. Another future conversation: Why Would I Eat Leaves?)
You have to talk back to yourself when you hear that negative stuff in your head. That’s not you talking. That’s your evil best friend from when you were a kid* talking! That’s just foolishness, and you have no time for foolishness. You have business cards.
Last week I heard that one of my co-workers was talking about my weight. My weight gain, to be specific. A lot of things went through my head. There was my allergic-to-bullshit response, which was that this guy can just fuck right off–this is my body, and this is the third wave of feminism, and this is 2012, and nobody but nobody tells me what my body is supposed to look like. This inner rant carried me for the next ten minutes until I ordered salad, canceled my salad, and got a cheeseburger instead.
Whatever, I’ve gained some weight. I don’t know how much, because I’m trying not to weigh myself. Really your weight is just a number, and I’ve always hated math. I also hate anything people use to measure their worth objectively. I know somebody who got like a million on their SAT and they talk about it all the time, but they are also basically a terrible parent, so. And, yeah, I may have gained X number of pounds, but I’m a DD cup now, so. Are you following? What I’m saying is, my boobs are full of cheeseburgers. Gross right? That’s not what I’m saying. I digress.
What I’m saying is, this kind of discussion is childish. Ha, ha, Shannon is getting fat! You know what? I have an office. With a window. I have many qualities, not all of them positive, but I am not my arm fat. No more than Beauty was her Beauty.
I doubt my co-worker had any ill intentions when he said these things, but telling other people we work with (at work) his opinion about my body is unprofessional and unkind. It undermines the work that I do, and I work hard.
I like how I look, by the way. What other people say is just what other people say.
*Beauty, if you’re reading this, I know we were just kids, and I don’t blame you for a thing. I’m sure you will run the world someday and I will bow to you and feed you low-calorie snacks.
P.s. Your pores look great.