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It's the fire in my eyes and the swing of my waist, 2002-07-01, 6:44 p.m.


Through the wonderful Kerykes I found this blog - Born Squishy: A fat girl in a thin land. I have to say that I've found a new voice of reason in the unreasonable world that is the internet. She makes a lot of sense when discussing the world and the attitudes towards those who are not stick insects. Like myself.

One statement that rang true came from this entry. She states:


But dress size is not so important to me any more:

The feeling you get from a 90 minute workout or after having swum 60 lengths of the pool is far more exhilarating and attainable than a dress size.

Being able to get to the top of the three very long and very steep flights of stairs in your mother-in-law's old Dutch townhouse when you can't remember a time that you didn't ever want to just die after making it to the attic is a bigger kick than a dress size.

Discovering that you had muscles hiding under your flab after all is more tangible than a dress size.

Finding yourself WANTING to run, even if it's only for a minute, something you never even managed at high school is far more profound and meaningful, and useful I might add, than a dress size.

I don't want to be skinny. I don't want to be my ideal weight. I want to be my ideal weight. I want my body to always be soft, and round and warm and inviting and huggable and squishy.

I can relate to this. I don't want to be skinny - I am watching what I eat (but not dieting!) and I am exercising. But I don't want to be tiny. I don't want to be a size 5 or a size 3 or even smaller. I want to be healthy. I've been getting healthier. I can feel it in my lungs and in my fitness. I can feel it in my muscles. I can feel it when we hike like we did today and the other day. I can go longer and stronger than before. Yes, I am wearing a smaller size and that feels good. But so does being able to do yoga moves that I couldn't before. Or skipping up stairs instead of dragging my butt. I can beat D. up Signal Hill and that's just right for me. As I said to D., I want to be able to run around the lake some day. Not today, not tomorrow but some day. Perhaps next summer. Perhaps some day.

You know, I'm never going to be conventionally thin. Nor conventionally pretty. But I'm not conventional. I'm me and there's no one like me.

I've been reminded lately of a passage from Jemima J by Jane Green. She has gone from 15 stone to 8 stone (or so - I can't remember where she started. It's about 100 pounds or so) through really cutting back on her food and exercising a lot. She goes to America and many things go wrong. After a horrid night and an emotional eating binge, she stares in the mirror, looking at her body. Here are the thoughts:

I rub my hands over my stomach, feeling how it's bulging slightly and thanking God that I've exercised as much as I have, that I don't have folds of flabby skin anywhere on my body, and then I remember a time at home, back in London, when my stomach was huge. When it used to take about ten minutes to rub from one side to the other. Well, not exactly, but you know what I mean. I remember how I used my size and my flesh to hide away from the world, to hide my sexuality, to hide who I was and I know that, despite in a strange way feeling comforted by my size, I won't get that way again. I don't need to be that size again.
My stomach is nothing like it used to be, but as I stroke I can feel that neither is it concave, the way it's been since I arrived in Los Angeles, and actually, if I'm being completely honest, I quite like the fact that it curves slightly. Ok, I know that with a triple workout for the next couple of days it will soon be back to its flat self, and that this bulge is just the temporary result of tonight's binge, but the more I stroke it the more I like it. It feels rounded, feminine, womanly.
I get up in a while, curious to see what it looks like in the mirror, and I go into Lauren's bedroom and pull the full-length mirror around to face me. I lift my t-shirt up over my head and stand there, naked, just looking at myself.
I look at my taut, muscular figure, so lean now that I look more like a boy than a woman. I run my hand over my flat breasts and remember how pendulous they used to be...
I skim my waist, marvelling at how tiny it is, and I try to pinch an inch, except I can't, all I can manage is a few millimetres of skin.
So I get into bed and I decide that I'm not going to binge any more, but I'm not going to stay obsessed with being as skinny as I can be. I think it's high time I just relaxed and lived a little. And I suppose my weight will just settle at whatever it's supposed to settle at. How's that for a revelation?
      Pages 399-400 of Jemima J by Jane Green

I feel like these two womyn - one real, one fictional. I want to be healthy. I want to be womynly. I will settle soon. I want to feel good about myself and how I look. Yes, if I freak out over exercise I can go to far. Yes, if I don't exercise I will lose the health I've regained. I don't want to do either. I want to be able to buy clothes that look good, no matter the size, be fit and healthy, no matter my size and be womynly. I don't want to lose what makes me me.

To end, I want to quote another womyn. Here is Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou. Go and enjoy yourself. Because you're phenomenal.

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies
I'm not cute or built to suit a model's fashion size
But when I start to tell them
They think I'm telling lies.
I say
It's in the reach of my arms
the span of my hips
The stride of my steps
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenally
Phenomenal woman
That's me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please
And to a man
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees
Then they swarm around me
A hive of honey bees.
I say
It's the fire in my eyes
And the flash of my teeth
The swing of my waist
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman
That's me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can't see.
It's in the arch of my back
The sun of my smile
The ride of my breasts
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman
Phenomenally
Phenomenal woman
That's me.

Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say
It's in the click of my heels
The bend of my hair
The palm of my hand
The need for my care.
'Cause I'm a woman
Phenomenally
Phenomenal woman
That's me.


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