Or by stress or disease. Either way, it’s wrong.
And it’s verbal abuse. An assault.
As a survivor of eating disorders, there were plenty of times in the four long decades that I battled that sickness that I was so skinny, so starved that sitting in a bathtub hurt my spine. My body was so emaciated that I had no fat pads behind my eyes. I sat on bone, leaned against bone, and my eyes looked out, floating, from sockets that barely had enough liquid to support them in my orbital bones.
Some of you know exactly what this feels like.
Yet even so I was terrified of gaining an ounce, the horrifying notion of putting on a single pound, even as my heart, organs and brain screamed at me for nourishment. I was too frightened of all the voices of all the people who had told me I was fat.
I drank so little water that I came close to needing hospitalization for extreme constipation. Instead, I went into a toilet with a spoon. Use your imagination. This is how desperate we get, the depths to which we plummet in order to be skinny, for what skinny promises us, but never ever delivers.
Yesterday I got a comment from one of my readers on a story I did about being thin which really underscored the general stupidity of our collective society. Medium buddy Megan Charles wrote:My SO's daughter gets this backwards ass vitriol a LOT. She's naturally very skinny. She's also very active at her job. And she's 5'10". She's got a model's physique people would envy. Always has. Yet strangers feel free to comment on her body constantly, telling her she needs to eat more. They assume she's starving herself. And it takes a toll. Christ. The girl is putting away thousands of calories a day. Her job is physical and her metabolism is off the charts. Some would call her lucky, but I think it is likely as miserable to have to seemingly eat constantly the way she does. There are times she's exhausted from a long day at work, but still has to eat before bed, else she'll wake up starving in the middle of the night. Comments cut both ways, skinny or not.
I am sick unto death of a society where people feel free to comment on a stranger’s body in the first place. None. of. Your. Fucking. Beeswax, Sparky.
I am sick unto death of those who feel free to verbally punish those who are battling (whatever), who have no clue that path any of us walks, but exercise what they feel is their God-given right to tell us what to do with the one thing WE FUCKING OWN: OUR BODIES.
As a result of the unbelievable and unrelenting stress I’ve been under for months, a horrible kidney stone infection requiring surgery and then flipping my car at 65 mph while moving the last of my goods to Eugene, the last full meal I ate was in the hospital on 7/21/2020. At that time I weighed 143 (unbeknownst to me, I was up that much from all those chocolate almonds). I have been through shit and hellfire since, and eating has been very hard.
Because of that I’ve dropped 23 pounds. NOT A GOOD THING, that horrible rapid weight loss, not at this age or any age. The body does not like it, and the skin on my arms looks like a deflated water balloon. Quite unintentional. I’ve been through the fucking grinder.
And someone said to me the other day that I needed to eat something.
Jesus. Fucking. Christ. Given what I’ve just been through, AND the fact that my entire otherwise very healthy diet is precisely why I had kidney stones and interstitial cystitis (spinach, almonds, yogurt, pickles, pineapple, citrus, nut butters, etc), AND I can’t eat bread AND I don’t eat red meat, honest to fucking Christ right at the moment I hardly know what the hell I CAN eat. I have a scheduled appointment with a nutritionist to work out that very thing. Meanwhile I eat a lot of applesauce and lentil soup. I am having long, helpful talks with my Medium buddy Ann Litts who shares the IC with me and she knows what the hell she’s talking about. I am finding my way.
To that person, and to the people who bark at Megan’s SO’s daughter who is (gifted AND afflicted)with that metabolism:
FUCK YOU. Just, FUCK YOU VERY MUCH.
While her article is more focused on reproductive rights, my friend Rosennab’s article on body autonomy does a typically superb job of outlining how little we seem to own our physical selves, and where that comes from:
From her piece:
While many women are asking themselves, how did we get here, shocked at the governing of the female body, I would like to pose questions beyond anti-abortion.
- How and why did we develop into a world of political, social, religious, and sexual inequality where men lead, and women listen?
- Why do some of the world’s oldest cultures subject girls to genital cutting?
- How did men become in charge of their daughter’s virginity?
- What sanctions the practice of polygamy in as much as 30% of the world, while still demanding female virginity?
- Why is rape a common occurrence with little legal or social consequence?
One reason I link to her piece in a story about comments on thinness is because the way I experience the invasiveness of such unsolicited comments is just that: it’s fucking intrusive, like rape. The young lady whose body is just thin naturally, like a model’s, who gets hated and envied for what likely causes her plenty of annoyance, is invaded every time she gets commented upon.
To put it more succinctly,
EVERY SINGLE TIME YOU OR I COMMENT WITH EVIL INTENT ON A WOMAN’S BODY (anyone for that matter, most especially children) WE COMMIT ASSAULT.
You and I have no right. None whatsoever. Because first, you and I have no clue what their history or battles are. We have no access to their world.
Second, it’s none of our business. Any more than I appreciated how my father would grab me as I walked by him as he sat at our kitchen table, pinch a big piece of my expanding hips — I was all of twelve at the time — and shout loudly:
WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT THIS??????
As though I had a choice in the matter. I got those hips from his side of the family. How fucking DARE I embarrass my father by looking like his sisters?
This is how we sow the seeds of eating disorders.
Those seeds were planted in society by the patriarchy. Because empathy, compassion, caring and nurturing have no place in the patriarchy.
We do not bring up healthy children through body shaming. We do not create safety for any of us, particularly for women, through body shaming. And we most certainly do not create community among ourselves, most particularly among our sisters, if we verbally assault each other out of misplaced envy directed at women whose thinness we desire, or outright hate, and most certainly do not understand.
I am achingly aware of the damage that too-rapid weight loss does to the body. On one hand, yeah, it’s great to get into my uber skinny jeans. But it has cost me some of my vitality and my health, and I want those back. I want to eat normally, regularly, and healthily- all things that I am having to completely retool at 67 as I accommodate those physical challenges that emotional trauma have cost me.
Plenty of studies prove that emotional trauma leads to physical pain:
Some thirty-three symptoms, including migraines, interstitial cystitis, eating disorders, fibromyalgia and others (of which I have or have had eighteen) have been shown to be connected to trauma.
Given this, and given that you and I are having plenty of challenges right now with Covid, d’ya mind if I point out that taking that trauma out on other people because we envy their bodies simply heaps more pain on them?
And, kindly, it makes us abusers.
Especially if we are body shaming. We become the very thing we most despise.
I hardly understand how this helps, not only ourselves, but those we are shaming.
NO, I’m not going to eat a fucking sandwich. First, I can’t eat bread. Second, say it’s PB&J, I can no longer eat nut butters (OH all those boxes of Justin’s Maple Cashew butter, sob). Third, I can’t eat jelly, because of the sugar.
Ham sammich? Nope. Pork makes me puke.
I can’t have the mayo because of the vinegar.
Can’t have the tomato because of the acid.
You don’t know shit about my body. Just as nobody knows shit about the bodies of those who are either heavy, like Shannon Ashley, who is exceedingly generous in helping us understand some of the struggles large people deal with, or Megan’s SO’s daughter, above.
If I continue to eat the way I was I will be back in the hospital with more goddamned kidney stones. Since I plan to skip that chapter, I have to learn to eat a completely different diet.
Kindly, to all those who feel free to tell us to eat a sandwich, stuff one in your own mouth, if you would please.
At least that would shut you the fuck UP. We have millions of people battling eating disorders, people born with challenging physical issues, naturally high or low metabolisms, and metabolisms they (and I ) fucked up because of verbal and sexual assault.
To my eye, this woman is beautiful. If she isn’t to you, I might suggest that you stuff a sandwich in your pie hole.
Because we are ALL beautiful. Precisely as we are. Our battles are our own. And we didn’t get put here for your visual pleasure. We are put here for our own journey. The sooner you and I and all of us can create the sacred space for each of us to make our way as best we can, the more easily we can all breathe together.
And maybe, someday, even share that damned sandwich.
I’ll have the lettuce, thanks.