Thursday, April 30, 2009

Random rambling for a Thursday night.

I watched the trailer for “Julie and Julia”, the upcoming Nora Ephron comedy based on the true stories of renowned chef Julia Child (played by Meryl Streep) and Julie Powell (Amy Adams), a woman who decided to go through Child’s seminal cookbook and prepare a dish every day for a year straight. I’m interested in seeing the movie because I’m quite fond of both Meryl and Amy, but damn if I didn’t get pissy with the trailer trot-out of the usual trope – that Powell is upset to the point of tears that she might be getting fat due to her labor of love. Of course, she’s reassured by the Sassy Sidekick Girlfriend character that it’s only showing in her face. Blugh. My queendom for a woman-centric movie that doesn’t contain one single fucking “I AM TERRIFIED I MIGHT GET FAT/I AM FAT/DOES MY ASS LOOK FAT IN THIS” scene. It’s rather creepy that the most frightening thing for so many people is the idea of becoming or being fat. I’m more afraid that I’m going to get into a life-or-death struggle with a giant squid or hammerhead shark than I am of my fat. But I also have to acknowledge that I’ve never held a position of thin/beauty privilege. I’ve never been praised exclusively for my looks and my self-esteem has never hinged primarily on my thinness. And it will probably sound condescending of me, but I feel bad for those who have been or are in that position. I’ve got plenty of mind-fucks for a myriad of other reasons due to a myriad of other subjects, but jeepers, that has to be one of the biggest mind-fucks to be so terrified of gaining weight and not fitting in that teeny tiny societal box of what is considered “pretty”.

I’ve lived fat my entire life. It’s simply the way I’ve always been. I’ve practically cross-stitched “You have such a pretty face” on pillows. So it’s admittedly hard for me to truly understand the kind of panic that seems to accompany so many women and men over the idea of being fat. And how could you not panic, thanks to the constant broadcast message being sent: fat destroys, fat depresses, fat makes you morally suspect, fat makes you lazy, fat makes you ugly, fat makes you unlovable. Even after all the personal work I’ve done to embrace me and every bubbly bit that is part of me, I still had a moment of astonishment not too long ago during a pretty deep conversation with a friend of mine where he told me “I’ve always thought you were beautiful”. Mercy, how I had to fight myself to not tell him “you’re wrong/you’re blind/you’re high”. I think I even had him repeat it because my brain kind of shrunk like a squeezed sponge for a moment from the volume of the “BWUH?!?!?” that echoed through my skull. You really never completely get rid of the “you’re wrong/you’re blind/you’re high”, I’ve learned. Even if you’re able to parry immediately with “oh, shut the fuck up, brain”, the “oh pshaw” litany hides in the dark, waiting for the perfect opportunity to leap out like Vegas Elvis doing karate moves to “Suspicious Minds”.

How do we make fat something that simply is, like being thin, like being blond or brunette or tall or short?


walkingrules said...

"I’ve never been praised exclusively for my looks and my self-esteem has never hinged primarily on my thinness. And it will probably sound condescending of me, but I feel bad for those who have been or are in that position."Right on!

Brenda said...

I just found your blog and I have to say I love it. I am 19 years old and because of an eating disorder, I am in the position of being extremely uncomfortable with my body because once upon a very sad and lonely time I was thin. I still struggle daily with my weight but I'm hoping that soon I can accept myself for who I am apart from my looks. Or even to just love my body for what it is.

Thanks for writing - you are witty and funny and true. Keep it up.

Miss Minx said...

Interestingly enough, I read Julie's blog years ago, and if memory serves, she actually *lost* weight initially, as all the recipes she was preparing were pretty much all protein - a sort-of Atkins thing without doing it on purpose.

Unless in later entries she gained some weight back, I don't know why the film would put this in apart from the regular fat fear/hatred spouted by mainstream media, etc.