I’ve written before about how I feel I “have” bipolar, rather than “am” bipolar: https://balfourthrb.wordpress.com/2013/06/04/i-am-not-bipolar/ i.e. that there is a subtle difference between the two and I have a condition, rather than feeling that I am that condition.
So, let’s apply this to weight. I have always been relatively slight. I am 157(.5) centimetres tall, and weigh around 48 kilo. I am frequently mistaken for an 18 year old (at 27, I still get ID’d with frightening regularity). Despite being small, I have always had issues around food and eating. Namely, that for long periods in my life I have tried not to eat, in order to lose weight or to maintain a weight or shape that was really far too low/ small. This was at its worst in 2011, during which period I basically refused to eat more than 900 calories a day, weighed around 45 kilo and had bones sticking out that I hadn’t realised I even had. I was wearing jeans designed for eleven year old boys because grown-up clothes were falling off me. I was ill.
The most I have ever weighed is 56 kilo, a shock to me in January, when I stepped on the scales after Christmas, New Year and eight months of living, jobless, with family. Since then, I’ve dropped 8 kilo- how, and why, I do not know- and am back to my normal weight.
Anyway, the point of my bandying these numbers about is to use myself as an example. The point is: I am not 48 kilo. I weigh it. In other languages, people say “I have a ten” or “I have a fourteen” rather than “I am an 8″ or “I am a 16″. This, to me, makes a fair amount more sense.
If I see myself as being my weight or size, I will never be happy. People, particularly women I think, are made to feel that they are their size. You are fat, with all its negative associations. You are skinny, with all its negative associations. You are average (“just” average, and how must that feel?) “You are what you eat” so that when you’re half a take-away down you start to feel like grease and hate yourself as much a you’ve loved the noodles, or pizza, or whatever. You feel you are fat, as though you were quite literally made up of globs of white matter. What you weigh, or what shape you have, somewhere along the line becomes inextricable from what you are, so that when you feel too fat, you feel bad about yourself on a deeper level. When you feel your hips are too wide, your breasts too small, your eyes too narrow, your feet too long- you feel bad not just about these features of yourself, but about you. This isn’t right.
As a relatively small person, I have read things online that infuriate me: smaller women are, supposedly, infantilised, unwell, forced into conformity, trying to appeal to men, etc etc etc. I am not infantilised- I am a grown woman and do not try to act, look or seem younger than I am. I am no longer unwell- I eat a reasonably healthy diet, do not check the scales anxiously every morning, in fact no longer own a pair. I am not trying to conform to unreasonable norms of beauty. I have never been into men, so am not much interested in what they think about my body (and I am not trying to appeal to women, either, with my weight. I try to use my sense of humour for that).
Most of all I hate the idea that gets bandied about that “Real Women Have Hips” (or breasts, or whatever). Real Women come in all shapes and sizes, and as far as I am aware there is nothing “unreal” about me just because I carry small boobs. Real Women can be thin women, fat women, average women, trans women, tall women, short women. I don’t like the fact that women use each others’ sizes to put each other down, make each other feel inferior, or comment on the nature of each other’s womanhood. We do enough of that to ourselves.
Every now and then, I envy someone else’s body, I wish I had a flatter tummy or smaller thighs. Every now and then, I realise that the person I am envying is about twelve years younger than I am, and I should not be stressing out over not looking like a teenager. Every now and then I look at old photos of myself and I wish I still looked like I did before. And that’s not going to stop- for whatever reason, and however sad, it’s natural. But what I refuse to do now is to feel that I am my “bum, tum & thighs”. What I refuse to do now is convince myself that features about myself I don’t like are signs of laziness, or uselessness, or reveal something about my personal nature. Just as other things I “have”- a degree, a collection of spotty pyjamas, a London accent- “are” not me, neither is my weight. Just try that sentence out for size: “I am a collection of spotty pyjamas”. Then try: “I am fat”. Think about it. You’ll realise that you are neither, and hopefully smile.
So… I have 48 kilo. Or, I weigh 48 kilo. I refuse to be 48 kilo, because I think I am quite a lot more things than that.