Sunday, December 02, 2007

It's Not You, It's Your Body

Imagine if your body was you. Where would I hide? I've spent so long thinking that beneath my layers of fat there laid the true me, safe from the world. Periodically I'd let her out to play, shed the tower, and ended up wounded--bleeding on the side of the road. Then I'd imagine I could lock up her up, and hide her in the armor that fat seemed to bring. But it is lonely in exile. No one wants the fat girl, and sure that if safe but it's not a really happy life either.

There were days when I could convince myself that it was okay. I had lots of friends, and there was certainly satisfaction in those relationships. But at night, alone, there was no one to hold me, or to touch me intimately. No one to whisper "I love you" before sleep came. And it really did seem that as long as I was fat there wasn't going to be anyone to do those things. When I did fall in love, finally, the person rejected me because of my body. "It's not you, it's just your body." And again there was that idea that this body was somehow not the real me. And the pain...because supposedly I could do something about this body right? I could reshape it, change it, make it somehow more reflective of me?

And I was lucky. I meet someone who thought the fat was sexy. Well who though I was sexy. All of me. When we first dated people would say things like "It's good that he sees your mind." And what that really meant is that someone as hot as H must love brains over beauty because look at you girlfriend. It continues even now where people will say sort of incredulously "Why do you think he loves you." with that slight emphasis on the you. There are so many implications there: he was looking for a green card, he must see something in you the rest of us don't. It's funny because I kind of love that H at times loves me solely out of lust. There are times when I someone to see only my body...because maybe just maybe it's not just my body...maybe it's me.

I should end it there...what a great ending line but I can't. When I lost a large chunk of weight last time (40lbs), I gained 20 of it back very quickly. I freaked out to be honest. The thought of myself as this thinner version was very wacky. And WW really emphasises that this is supposed to be a lifetime thing. I was going from always being the fat girl to being the sort of in between girl (no one is likely to ever call me thin). And I felt like I was losing myself. In a way, I was....

Reading Foucault has made me rethink my attitudes towards my body. He claims in Discipline and Punish that the soul is the prison of the body. Maybe it wasn't the real me I was keeping trapped in those layers of fat. Maybe the real me were the layers of fat. And if Foucault is right in that we can stray afield of ourselves, then maybe me is also this person who's not wrapped layers in fat.

In my head over the last few days, I thought about those moments when I loved my body, when I felt proud of my body. I started to think of the things I love.

1. When I practiced S & M. You end up being incredibly intimate with your body. In order to keep this on a safe level you have to be able to read your body. I could take, initially, incredibly high amounts of pain but it was because i was able to disconnect from my body in ways most people can't. I'd wake up the next day, dying, aching, bruised, and barely able to move. If I was going to continue in this world, I had to learn to read my body better. S & M was a pleasure (and God, what a pleasure) that brought you center to yourself, your body.

2. Bearing children....not the pregnancy part, I hated that. That was like having my body possessed. But the actual pushing out, labor part. Yes, it hurt like hell but the strength it takes to do something like that is not something you realize you possess. It was powerful. It made me trust my body in ways i never had before. Afterward, I felt this quiet pride.

There seems to be a theme here...pain...maybe it's just me...But for me at least pain made me aware that the surface of my body was me. It was not something that didn't belong to me but it was me.

This time around I didn't freak out as much about losing weight. I didn't go into some kind of identity crisis or who I would be if I was fat. I think it's because, through reading Foucault, I am starting to see my body less as an object and more as a subject. As silly as this sounds, I am beginning to realize that my body is me. Maybe there is no duality. I don't even know how to begin with this new ethics but I do know that it involves having to respect and care for my body.


John B-R said...

WHO BE KIND TO (Ginger Remix)

Be kind to your self, it is only one
and perishable
of many on the planet, thou art that
one that wishes a soft finger tracing the
line of feeling from nipple to pubes--
one that wishes a tongue to kiss your armpit,
a lip to kiss your cheek inside your
whiteness thigh--
Be kind to yourself Ginger, because unkindness
comes when the body explodes
napalm cancer and the deathbed in Vietnam
is a strange place to dream of trees
leaning over and angry American faces
grinning with sleepwalk terror over your
last eye--
Be kind to yourself, because the bliss of your own
kindness will flood the police tomorrow,
because the cow weeps in the field and the
mouse weeps in the cat hole--
Be kind to this place, which is your present
habitation, with derrick and radar tower
and flower in the ancient brook--
Be kind to your neighbor who weeps
solid tears on the television sofa,
he has no other home, and hears nothing
but the hard voice of telephones
Click, buzz, switch channel and the inspired
melodrama disappears
and he's left alone for the night, he disappears
in bed--
Be kind to your disappearing mother and
father gazing out the terrace window
as milk truck and hearse turn the corner
Be kind to the politician weeping in the galleries
of Whitehall, Kremlin, White House
Louvre and Phoenix City
aged, large nosed, angry, nervously dialing
the bald voice box connected to
electrodes underground converging thru
wires vaster than a kitten's eye can see
on the mushroom shaped fear-lobe under
the ear of Sleeping Dr. Einstein
crawling with worms, crawling with worms, crawling
with worms the hour has come--
Sick, dissatisfied, unloved the bulky
foreheads of Captain Premier President
Sir Comrade Fear!
Be kind to the fearful one at your side
Who's remembering the Lamentations
of the bible
the prophesies of the Crucified Adam Son
of all the porters and char men of
Be kind to your self who weeps under
the Moscow moon and hide your bliss hairs
under raincoat and suede Levi's--
For this is the joy to be born, the kindness
received thru strange eyeglasses on
a bus thru Kensington,
the finger touch of the Londoner on your thumb,
that borrows light from your cigarrette,
the morning smile at Newcastle Central
station, when longhair Tom blond husband
greets the bearded stranger of telephones--
the boom bom that bounces in the joyful
bowels as the Liverpool Minstrels of
raise up their joyful voices and guitars
in electric Afric hurrah
for Jerusalem--
The saints come marching in, Twist &
Shout, and Gates of Eden are named
in Albion again
Hope sings a black psalm from Nigeria,
and a white psalm echoes in Detroit
and reechoes amplified from Nottingham to Prague
and a Chinese psalm will be heard, if we all
live our lives for the next 6 decades--
Be kind to the Chinese psalm in the red transistor
in your breast--
Be kind to the Monk in the 5 Spot who plays
lone chord-bangs on his vast piano
lost in space on a bench and hearing himself
in the nightclub universe--
Be kind to the heroes that have lost their
names in the newspaper
and hear only their own supplications for
the peaceful kiss of sex in the giant
auditoriums of the planet,
nameless voices crying for kindness in the orchestra,
screaming in anguish that bliss come true
and sparrows sing another hundred years
to white haired babes
and poets be fools of their own desire--O Anacreon
and angelic Shelley!
Guide these new-nippled generations on space
ships to Mars' next universe
The prayer is to man and girl, the only
gods, the only lords of Kingdoms of
Feeling, Christs of their own
living ribs--
Bicycle chain and machine gun, fear sneer
& smell cold logic of the Dream Bomb
have come to Saigon, Johannesburg
Dominica City, Phnom Penh, Pentagon
Paris and Lhasa--
Be kind to the universe of Self that
trembles and shudders and thrills
in XXI Century,
that opens its eyes and belly and breast
chained with flesh to feel
the myriad flowers of bliss
that I Am to Thee--
A dream! a Dream! I don't want to be alone!
I want to know that I am loved!
I want the orgy of our flesh, orgy
of all eyes happy, orgy of the soul
kissing and blessing its mortal-grown
orgy of tenderness beneath the neck, orgy of
kindness to thigh and vagina
Desire given with meat hand
and cock, desire taken with
mouth and ass, desire returned
to the last sigh!
Tonite let's all make love in London
as if it were 3001 the years
of thrilling god--
And be kind to the poor soul that cries in
a crack of the pavement because s/he
has no body--
Prayers to the ghosts and demons, the
lackloves of Capitals & Congresses
who make sadistic noises
on the radio--
Statue destroyers & tank captains, unhappy
murderers in Mekong & Stanleyville,

That a new kind of wo/man has come to his bliss

to end the cold war s/he has borne
against her/his own kind flesh
since the days of the snake.

Allen Ginsberg (remix by JBR)

John B-R said...

The "his" 4 lines from the end should have been remixed to "her/his" - sorry.

Ros said...

On a FAR less profound note -- doesn't advertising try to sell us on us NOT being our bodies? "let out the real you", "the inner you". All the diet programs talking about letting out the thin you . . . . I've never had anyone ask me to let out my inner fat chick. But if we didn't believe that we're NOT our bodies, how could we do all this stuff to ourselves? Why is caring for our corporeal self so hard?

Ginger said...

John B-R: Thank you. Very profoundly and deeply.

Ros: Oh yes, I think everything in our society is about us not having bodies or somehow thinking that our bodies are not the real us.

I think that I'm aiming for a place where there is no distinction. I am me.

Jess said...

Because of some kind of seemingly innate, hard-wired philosophy of mine, I tend to always want to change. To make myself better. To read more, be smarter, have more friends, be nicer, be a better activist, be healthier, be stronger, to work harder, to be better. And I really believe that there's something to be said for striving. But it can drive me crazy. So the thought "what if I'm OK the way that I am?"--the exact way that I am, the size I am, how nice I am, how hard I work--can be mind-boggling. It's a revolutionary thing (at least for me) to think "I really am OK the way that I am." And when I can accept that idea, it's a relief. It's nice to take a break from wishing oneself different.

To me, caring for my body means accepting it the way that it is and nourishing it (and making it work hard). And admitting, like you're saying, that it IS me. It's a hard goal for me to achieve, but it's an important one. Because as hard as that goal is, the trying to change myself, to change what IS me, to fit somebody else's standards, is going to make me sad--and crazy.

Ginger said...

I agree Jess.But I think my problem with overeating was very much about not accepting my body the way it was. It was a way of creating an armor against the world. I hide/hid behind my fat for most of my life. I don't think everyone does that but I did.

And funnily enough, I did learn to love my body at its biggest. When I was pregnant, when I was with someone who loved it no matter what, etc.

But my body felt abused. It hurt. And losing weight has made me feel better. Accepting that was tough too.

Jess said...

Yeah, I think the key is--and what I meant was--that it is important for each individual to find what works best for them. Sometimes, for some people, it's being OK with what is. Sometimes it's needing to make a change.

Ginger said...

oh Jess, I know you are so on the same page about this.

And I think it really does boil down to this for me. What works for your body, and more importantly not pushing what works for you onto others. I HATE it when thin people bitch about fat people!!!!! Or vice versa. And I also hate the condescending lectures given to me by thin people about all it takes is eating less adn moving more. And you know I am so not thin, and I will never be thin. And more importantly I am coming to the point where I am really okay about that.

Hugs. I miss you so much by the way!

Jess said...

I think we are too. I loved what you said: "What works for your body, and more importantly not pushing what works for you onto others." I totally agree!

I miss you too. We HAVE to get together someday, somewhere :).