Saturday, March 27, 2010

Things I am Tired of Today

Things I am Tired of Today:

I am tired of having a body.

I am tired of being asked to hate my body.

I am tired of being expected to want fix and change my body.

I am tired of thin being a synonym for healthy.

I am tired of deprivation being a synonym for virtue.

I am tired of moral values being placed on food.

I am tired of moral values being placed on bodies.

I am tired of how the mandate for women to be thin is cloaked in the mantle of "concern" for our health.

I am tired of discipline.

I am tired of the fear of carbohydrates.

I am tired of how little space I feel I'm allowed to take up in the world.

I am tired of getting compliments for sick behaviors.

I am tired of the apologies that are expected to preface eating.

I am tired of using exercise as punishment.

I am tired of the energy it takes to hate of my own flesh.

I am tired of the long war with my body.

I am tired of this culture's war with womens bodies.

I am tired of being a good little foot soldier in both.


Dale said...

I am tired of how the mandate for women to be thin is cloaked in the mantle of "concern" for our health.

Yes, me too. You like your women skinny, that's fine, but don't pretend you're clucking over the plump ones' health.

Or men, for that matter. I don't feel like nowadays it's that much less potent for men. Not exactly what we had in mind, when we started the attack on gender stereotypes :-(

Kristen McHenry said...

I agree, Dale. I don't think any of the real health issues around healthy food access or safe outdoor spaces for walking or playing are ever going to be properly addressed until we get past the moral panic about fat and admit that it's not, nor has it ever have been, about concern for anyone's health.

When I was in my twenties, smoking four packs a week, eating well under 800 calories a day, sick as dog and severely depressed and anxious--no one cared about my health then. All I heard about was how wonderfully nice and thin I was (at 5'9" and 117 pounds), and what WAS my secret for staying so skinny and however did I do it and gee how terrific it would be to get sick like me for a while so they could lose a few pounds, too.

Was I healthy then? No. Am I much healthier and happier now, at a significantly higher weight? Yes. But I'm still being pressured to lose weight under the guise of concern for my "health", or simply the assumption that of course I must want to be thinner. What I am definitely not "allowed" to be is happy with my body the way it is.

And I while I feel that women are always going to get the worst of this sort of body scrutiny, I do feel like this same pressure is significantly increasing on men, as well. NOT my idea of equality.

Geoff M. Pope said...

Sad but strengthening and freeing!
I'm going to share (in a timely manner) your poem, along with the striking comments, with my wife who has been exercising like Jack LaLanne lately -- as well as looking too long in the mirror (it appears) prior to less-attired April, May, and...

Kristen McHenry said...

Geoff--excellent! :)

Frank Moraes said...

This will probably not be read, so I can be truthful. It takes no energy for me to hate my own flesh—or rather, I have done so for so long that I know nothing else. Where I seem to be out of the mainstream is that I don't really hate the outside of my body—I'm used to that. It is the inside that bothers me so.

Of course, I hate my whole digestive track—isn't that normal? Mashing food into something disgusting in the mouth, only to makes its way down in a most creepy way to the stomach where it can be processed and separated into different collections of even more disgusting substances and then... Well, I just can't go on. But that seems normal to me; how can anyone not find that troubling.

I hate my lungs—I image them as circuitous fly paper in my torso. A tape worm bothers me no less.

Kidneys? Liver? I think of the screen in the sink that catches all the really disgusting things before they flow down the drain.

And my heart? I pity it. Its perpetual ga-lump, ga-lump? It is a slave and I am the driver, cracking my whip, although I do not mean to.

I am deeply troubled, I know. Everything about me, other than my consciousness that I believe is just an illusion anyway, is gross. I disgust myself. I wish it were not so. I wish there were a way to embrace the biological machine that I am, but there isn't. I'm poorly built. Instead of an exquisitely designed and rendered machine, it is poorly designed and executed—just good enough to do the one thing it is supposed to do: replicate.

I think people who worry about their weight are lucky. I imagine immoral chemical reactions taking place in my liver. My body is the most gruesome horror show I can imagine. Twenty more pounds or twenty less would change nothing—for me, or for anyone else.