Sometimes I wish I had a male body. I wish I didn’t have to work twice as hard to be half as good at the sports I enjoy. I wish I could eat three bowls of cereal before I go to bed and not get fat. The cultural ideals I wish I fit into are those essentially easier for males to accomplish.
As I was thinking about this, I read this post by 100LittleDolls: Bodies the Size of Zero. She says:
I’ve struggled particularly with that. My body isn’t the same as it was when I was 18: I’ve put on weight, there’s mounds where there were angles. I eat healthy, I exercise every day, and damnit, I should be happy with my body, because it’s at place where it wants to be. Yet, that’s hardly ever the case, I’ve internalized the beauty myth, and it’s come to the point where I wonder if the yoga I do is for the health of my body or if it’s to slim down, tone, or decrease in size. I want to be petite, I want to look like Buffy.
I could have written this paragraph, except I want a strong, tone frame with muscle definition. I’ve finally found a sport I love–biking–and rode at least 50 miles a week in the summer. I lift weights, do crunches, and stretch every day before I go to bed. I eat fairly healthy, even for a vegan. Perhaps I indulge myself in treats too often, but for the most part I eat three meals a day, stopping when I’m full and have had enough to give myself mental and physical energy. Yet, with all that, I still don’t look like Starbuck.
The picture above is me, playing Dance Dance Revolution this past Friday.
I don’t own a scale. We never had one growing up because my mom says scales give people low self esteem. I see what she means. I went to my university’s health center this past week, and they weighed me. “Oh,” said the nurse. “You do weigh 160.” She wrote the number down. “I gained that much weight? That worries me.” I said, and she said nothing. Admittedly, I know my clothes probably added five pounds. But I can’t get that number out of my head. 160. At 5’7″, that’s a fat person’s weight, at least on a woman. I should weigh 130. I can’t shake that I think I’m 30 pounds over weight, but I don’t see where I have to lose it.
I don’t know the history or politics of weight being used as a measurement of health, but I feel robbed. This number pits me against other women in a competition to be the lightest, the best at depriving herself. It does nothing to measure my fitness, my muscle mass, my health, my humanity. I feel like I’ve failed at feminism and pro-fat-acceptance in letting it get to me, in being unhappy with my weight. I should be happy with my body, and trying to change beauty norms so what comes easier for real women is accepted as beautiful. Instead, Iâ€™m jealous of my male friends who donâ€™t know how to make themselves throw up, who donâ€™t have to walk around in a state of low functioning hunger because theyâ€™re trying to send themselves into a calorie deficit to make themselves look good.
I never really felt athletic until I started biking. I’d never felt such pride and power within my own body before. It’s frustrating knowing even if I train twice as hard as my little brother, who is a semi-pro mountain biker and cat-3 road racer, I’ll never be half as good as him at something I love. I think this is telling: women have to work twice as hard to enjoy things that are much easier for men, yet we’re still second best in their world.