Over the weekend I hosted a birthday party. So when I was lighting the candles on the cake, some of the guests were joking that I was going to burn my fingers since I was trying to use just one match. And then one of the guests said this:
Geez, it smells like burned pork sausages in here.
And then he repeated it in case nobody caught it the first time and “explained” the joke.
It pissed me off. And since then I’ve been thinking about internalized crap. Because I have long struggled with my weight.
For years I could not keep weight on.
As a kid, I was grossly underweight and under constant medical scrutiny. My parents tried hard to fatten me up without being pushy about it, but it was enough to make me dislike milk and eggs and ice cream. Not to mention those weight-on products in a can. Nasty.
People often commented about my weight. And people comment on my weight as an adult as well. I’ve had people make remarks about it during job interviews. Or upon first meeting me. Guess they never went to the Dale Carnegie school.
The Burned Pork Sausage person makes comments alluding to my weight quite frequently. Gives me “advice” about foods I should and shouldn’t eat. (I once told him that I would stop eating potato chips when they pried the bag out of my greasy cold hands.) And he gave me a book about how not to be fat. Yes he did.
But what I feel amazed and astonished by is my capacity to feel bad.
It strikes me as an indicator of my own fucked-up thinking and the fucked-up thinking of our socialization. I remember when I was going through a very stressful time and lost almost 20 percent of my body weight. I had to punch three extra holes in my belt to keep my pants up. You could see my ribs and sternum. Yet people complimented me on my weight loss.
By medical standards, I am no longer underweight. I do not need to either lose or gain weight. Intellectually I know this to be true.
Yet still people comment on the size of my arms, my legs, my waist. They grab them for emphasis. They police my body in a way that I find intrusive and repellant.
I am overly skinny and unattractive. I am a freak show.
I am repulsively fat and unattractive. I am pork.
How fucked up is it that I can feel bad about both?