So this week I have had my body image and womanly virtues (or lack there of) stuffed into my face. All week. I’ve got fatty vaginas on the brain. Now I am a “fatty vagina”, and I have been looking at pinterest for the vagina workout that is not about my love tunnel- but about the actual vaginal area that I believe is fatty-fat-fatterson. I have been working out and my arms, thighs, waist have been slimming and getting toned and it is rather awesome. So I am purchasing the beloved “skinny jean” and they fit and look great until I see it… the dreaded camel-toe. The bane of my skinny jean world. I fear I may have to resort to a vagina-liposuction and ain’t nobody got time for that.
I am bringing this up for a couple of reasons. One: it’s funny. Two: I have begun to care what I look like. Like abnormally care about what I look like. I am not religious, in fact I am an atheist but I like Lent because I am a fan of abstaining and challenging habits. So for Lent I have… *sigh*… given up my overalls. Yes. My uniform of Overalls with a V-Neck white tee and a colorful cardigan is not in rotation for 40 odd days. This is because I am making an effort to “Pay Attention To How I ACTUALLY Look and Not How I Feel I Am Perceived”. I have always felt my overalls were reminiscent of some cool 1990’s art student who is flippant about how society views she should dress- probably because I started wearing them in the 1990’s as a theatre student who really couldn’t give a shit about how society views she should dress.
But this “pinterest” phenomenon that I am obsessed with has shaken my core. Add this to the “new healthy lifestyle” of good for me food and 5 days a week in a gym and I am completely at odds with my anti-establishment, anti-conformist personality. I am pinning all these cutesy dresses in soft pinks and minty greens and I have even pinned heels… HEELS!?!? I look at my closet and it doesn’t reflect my pinterest boards at all. Where is the gap and why am I not living what I love- I mean I am attracted to these clothes and I am attracted to the girls in my life (Noelle, Sarah, Bess et.al) that epitomize that ideal- why am I not making the effort to emulate it!
I am lazy. No, I know you are all saying “But you have a blog!” or “You do all this theatre!” or “You’re taking care of your mom!- How is THAT lazy!?!” But I am lazy and I have no self control- This is obvious to anyone who sees me and says to themselves “She’s overweight- teetering on obese” I am bringing this up because the book I read this week has kind of irked me and the lines you just read are my sarcastic interpretation of the book. It is called The Middlesteins and is written by Jami Attenberg.
It isn’t a bad book. I thought it was very well written in its prose and the idea of multiple points of view I really enjoyed. Except the bottom line of ALL points of view is that the main character was obese and it was All. Her. Fault. They attacked her and vilified and spoke in disgusting detail of watching her eat (Why would you watch someone eat? It is almost as unflattering as the Oh! face and really, I believe, no ones business to see- avert your eyes I am eating a salad which inevitably will entail me stuffing an oversized piece of lettuce in my mouth with dressing dripping out the sides. See?!? you don’t want to see it or READ it)
Ms. Attenberg did try to give the protagonist a voice and her description of using food to fill emptiness, loneliness, sadness was hard to read- it was like reading a diary- but that is all we see. We see it as a weakness she couldn’t control- and even though everyone around her knew where it stemmed from they sat on their hands and then condemned her for her addiction. One of my main issues with this book is that each chapter is from a specific characters point of view and they have mundane titles such as ‘Male Pattern’ or ‘Exodus’ but when Edie (the protagonist) finally gets her turn her titles are HER WEIGHT. Not Kidding. The only thing that is important in the chapter you are about to read is- She’s Getting Fatter. However, that isn’t all- the numbers DON’T MAKE SENSE. The way they describe this woman- not fitting into normal chairs, the fold upon fold down her arms, her legs that can only shuffle, the heaving and heavy breathing as she shuffles across the house- doesn’t equal a 260 lb woman. When I started my new “lifestyle” in August I weighed 269 lbs. I now weigh 239. I am floored by the description and it took me out of the book and actually really pissed my fatty vagina off. I started to look up pictures of people who weigh 260 lbs and there is so much discrepancy that the number really means nothing.
It is a number that doesn’t change if you are 5’4″ of 6’0″ but how you look changes DRASTICALLY. It is a number that doesn’t change if you are hour-glass, upside down triangle, or pear-shaped but it will sit differently on each person. If Ms. Attenberg didn’t do the pound chapter titles- I would have really enjoyed the book- as it is, I am obviously sensitive…
And I have every right to be. Fatty Vagina’s are under attack! Hell, Skinny Vagina’s are! WOMEN are under attack! The Violence Against Women Act, the unequal pay just for being a vag, the “Jane Crow” laws that criminalize pregnacy- putting the fetus above the woman, the media calling Melissa McCarthy a hippo, the bullying of girls for being too fat, too skinny, too black, too gay, not straight enough, too smart or too dumb. For not being perfect. I am in love with The Nation and this last issue had an excellent article on what women need to demand of President Obama in his last term, what should be his legacy regarding women. I highly recommend it- and most anything in the magazine!
All this being said, I find myself giving into the hype- but am I really? By not wearing overalls I am forcing myself to actually make a choice on how I will look that day. I am forcing myself to take the time to think about what I am doing and how I want people to see me. I know there are many days and moments in my life where I want to be perceived as a bad ass 1990’s art student in her overalls… but really 4 days a week? I may be addicted… and that’s the point of Lent- to challenge the norm, check into the habits that may not be serving you anymore, and enact a change that can lead to a more complete version of who you are.