Thursday, May 14, 2020

A Total Zero

My body is the luminous suit that carries my spirit through this life. I get to enjoy its eccentricities and quirks, like the extra long second toes, the mole on the upper right corner by my mouth, my overall lush-as-a-jungle hairyness, lines across my forehead, a pair of clear, green eyes with aging vision. I've trained my body to be strong enough to perform various feats with hula hoops, an unusual act for someone my age. As a friend said recently, "You defy gravity." Not quite, but in order to dazzle and convince a pal I defy gravity, my body requires a daily maintenance through practice. This has helped (I think), my overall health. It keeps my brain and body challenged.

So yay! My body! I'm celebrating it all the time, right? No. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about my body in a negative way:

Is that a jowl?
Why are my legs so pale and cottage cheesy? They don't even look good when I shave them.
Whoa. Arm sag.
Stretch marks.
Can I still see my hip bones? Yes. I'm ok.
My ass feels huge.
I  have the body I did in 2015, I'm ok.
I have the body I did in 2015, I'm fat.

I don't compare myself to others. I compare myself to myself.

Two years ago,  I was a size zero. I was complimented on this thinness, often. When I went to a Redi-Care center with a badly strained back muscle, the doctor spent more time complimenting my physique than assessing my pain. A fellow hooper on Instagram, one I admire, commented on how great I looked, how thin. Friends I hadn't seen in awhile would see me and the first thing out of their mouths would be about my body. "Wow! You look great! Look how skinny! Must be all that hooping!"

I felt great with all this attention, and I felt awful with all this attention. 

It wasn't all that hooping. It was stress. I wasn't eating. It was probably one of the worst times in my life. I was unhappy, depressed, out of my mind with worry all the time, and scrambling to do the right thing for someone I loved. Most days, I was dizzy. I often woke up and had panic attacks. I tried to tell myself the dizziness and panic attacks were just hormonal, but I was dangerously thin and undernourished.

To be skeletal in our society is a goal. I'm five foot eight inches tall and I weighed 117 pounds. I began to praise myself, too. "I'm thinner than I was in high school!"

I think we need to consider what we say to people about their bodies. We don't know why a person has lost weight, or gained it, or how they feel about it. But our culture sure celebrates the thin, the lost pounds, and a youthful look. All the ads I see on social media are for age-defying makeup, tricks to keep my ponytail lively, or diet apps. They have my demographic pegged.

I'm not a size zero now, and most of the time, the little voice inside my head tells me I'm fat, saggy, and too old to be doing what I'm doing. I should just stop. This voice keeps me from being happy sometimes, all these thoughts about my body and it's "failings," which aren't failings at all. It's just my body, being alive right now, in this moment. My body is the luminous suit that carries my spirit through this life. I get one. Let me love it, please, before I have to leave it.

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