There have been a few moments in my life where I have been viscerally wrecked by the medium of story telling:
- The play The Convert by Danai Gurira.
- The play adaptation of Crime an Punishment by Marilyn Campbell.
- The musical In the Heights by Lin-Manuel Miranda
- The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler
- “Your Elusive Creative Genius” — Elizabeth’s TEDtalk video
- J.K. Rowling’s Harvard graduation speech
- The films Revolutionary Road, The Imitation Game, Inside Out, Toy Story 3, and Finding Dory (damn you Pixar!).
My reaction to watching, reading, or hearing these things left me in a crumpled heap. Their impact is still within the molding of my being, aiding my perception of the world around me. This week, a new piece was added to the list…
This week, my friend Chris texted me and said I needed to check out This American Life’s story “Tell Me I’m Fat.” You can listen to it here, but proceed with caution:
In my experience there are two ways to write about being fat: what is and what should be. I tend to benefit from the stories of “what should be” and that’s what I tend to write here– stories like the one act play “Most Massive Woman Wins” or interviews with Melissa McCarthy that open you up to the scope of possibilities within the problem. My friend Chris tends towards stories of “this is what it is” — stories like the play Fat Pig that highlight a problem through endless discussion until the problem blinds you into hopelessness… that was my journey with “Tell Me I am Fat.”
“Tell Me I Am Fat” explores the perspectives of different people who have been overweight in their lifetime. Some have lost weight. Some have chosen to accept themselves as they are without weight-loss etc… As the stories unfolded, I had to turn off the podcast. It took me two sessions of listening to it to make it through, because it highlighted my two greatest fears a) No one will love me if I don’t lose weight b) I won’t love me if I do.
Listening to “Tell Me I Am Fat” left me weeping at my kitchen table for a good fifteen minutes, utterly hopeless. Chris says that the hope comes from the illumination of the issue through the stories themselves. Although I believe there is no greater power than the power of story, I cannot tolerate stories like “Tell Me I Am Fat,” I must find something actionable. So, I am taking my actionable moment…
When Ashley and I first started Embraceable, we did so with the understanding that when someone has been heavy for their entire lives, losing weight means they are literally losing a piece of themselves. It’s a major identity shift. This is HUGE and never discussed. Listening to “Tell Me I Am Fat,” I realized two things that I needed to do better with this project…
a) Patience — Ashley has lost 30lbs. I have lost 13lbs. I am SO proud of Ash, and I cannot deny for a moment that she has worked incredibly hard, while I have done less so. She is immeasurably dedicated to this task, while I just ate an entire batch of “Christmas Crack” (oh my gosh that stuff is so good and WAY too easy to make). But my pride in Ashley or knowledge of my laziness does not keep me from the human response of jealousy. Her body has transformed in the last few months, and although I can see mine shifting, it is not the same drastic evidence. Listening to “Tell Me I Am Fat,” reminded me how important it is to do this process slowly. If I do not prepare myself physically and mentally for these changes, I will simply gain back everything I lose and then some. It has to be a FULL life change — and that takes time. I am happy to take six months to lose thirteen pounds, if that means I never see those thirteen pounds on my body again. Those thirteen pounds are a representation of the hundreds of lessons I have learned on this journey. They are a representation of the confidence I am gleaning at any size due to this project. Those thirteen pounds are not a measly number on a scale, but a measure of victory. It is a slow process, because otherwise I may not be psychologically prepared for my psychical changes.
b) Others — I have not been dedicated enough to sharing the stories of others. We do our best to have weekly Embraceable guest bloggers, but we frequently fail. I want to hear more of your stories. I want to hear everyone’s story — how weight, body image, media etc… has transformed your sense of self and how you have over come it, how you have been defeated by it, or how you are still waging war with it. I want this page to be flooded with your stories, so PLEASE if you would like to guest blog for us, please send the following to email@example.com
- Your blog/story
- Your bio
- A high-quality, non-selfie photo of yourself
That is what I learned. I am grateful to have listened to “Tell Me I Am Fat,” but I cannot deny, it wrecked me. I need to take action from within this wreckage.
Weight: 199.5lbs (plus a batch of Christmas Crack) How do you feel?: Overwhelmed. This processes is enormous and important, but oh so very hard. Small Victory: I had a binge day this week. A big one, I ate and ate, BUT it was on Pirates Booty, chocolate covered blueberries, and Matzo Ball Soup which was FAR less calorically costly than I have EVER binged before, and I was able to get back on track the next day. Biggest Disappointment: Christmas Crack Thing I appreciated about my body this week: I have an emotional center which allows me to feel things deeply. #embraceablenow: I am very empathetic.