Body Positivity is a Long Thick Road

I’ve been researching and interviewing and working on a book length project about body positivity for longer than I care to remember.  (I was doing fine and then divorce ensued…and now I’m back).

I’ve realized over the couple of years of working that my own body has changed and how I feel about it has changed too.

Sometimes people say weird things like “you look great” or “did you lose weight” or “what did you do?” I never know how to answer those questions.

How are we supposed to respond?

So here’s the long answer. I probably lost weight but I don’t weigh myself so I really don’t have a number to give you.  A bunch of my skirts are longer and I fit easily into 2x and sometimes now 1x clothes or from 18 to 16 sort of. That’s the only way I can tell. Leading up to leaving my husband I was severely depressed. So sometimes I ate to console myself and sometimes I didn’t eat at all–there didn’t seem to be any healthy middle ground. When people asked how I did it–how did I lose a few noticeable pounds I know they are waiting for a uncompelling tale filled with exercise and kale smoothies but it just isn’t true–and I hate this weird reward system praise for having a shitty 2016-2017 year.

all I can do was smile and say “divorce.” I’m reminded of  a woman I worked with at a department store in Whittier in my teens. She dropped 30 pounds and looked the “great” that everyone seems to think was ideal. How did she do it? Her son had shot himself and she pretty much gave up eating after that in grief.

I wasn’t thinking of food. I don’t drink anymore–though it was never a problem in the first place. I also don’t have ready access to a kitchen that’s all mine. So I just eat when I need to. But none of that do I think should be rewarded with accolades. How did I lose a few pounds? I did some hard gut wrenching living.

You don’t interview models for a couple of years without feeling compelled to try out the camera yourself. I’m slowly more used to the camera. Slowly I can have fun with the idea. Slowly I don’t hate my photos as much.  Slowly I can look at images and judge them on the basis of whether or not I think it’s a good photo instead of oh my god it’s me. Is it possible to declare for one’s self that one is worthy of the camera? Certainly there’s a whole instagram world that says so.

There are far bigger woman than me that can wear sexy, suggestive clothing. I look at their photos and I can see their confidence and their beauty. I’m not like that yet though. I mean, intellectually I’m there. But I know there’s some social conditioning in me that holds back and says, no, I’m not meant to look that way.

When I first met photographer, Markus Alias, who took these,  I hadn’t modeled in along time. The first time we worked together I told him all I wanted was to look like I was still alive and perhaps not to just look like someone’s mom chaperoning a field trip. He obliged. However I’d let someone talk me into some heavy cosmetics and I looked strange to me.

Nowadays, I’m low on the cosmetics and I’ve worked with him over and over again. He’s amazing at making me feel comfortable.

Here’s to feeling alive. Again. I’m hoping to stay alive this time at any size.