I broke my “fat” mirror. I call it my “fat” mirror because the mirror was warped, but it was warped in all the right places. This was the mirror that added weight to me. It added curves to my straight-and-narrow frame. It made me look fatter, in other words, and that was good for my own sense of body image.
Maybe you have to be “naturally skinny” to know what I mean. “Naturally skinny” is the new catch-phrase for people like me – those of us who have trouble putting weight on. The media that generally throws that phrase around, though, wants you to hate us because we don’t need to lose weight to look like the popular main stream runway model version of “healthy”. At the same, time that the majority of “average-sized” women are trying desperately to lose weight, they already know that the runway version of “heathy” is anything but “healthy” – and for some reason, they want us “naturally skinny” women to admit to something we’re not doing, which is desperately trying anything to lose weight.
We’re already being “shamed” into desperately trying to gain weight, ladies – pointing out our “skinnyness” as unhealthy isn’t helping. It’s making us feel ridiculed for something we’re not even doing. It’s just as bad as body-shaming a girl that’s overweight.
I ran into a friend in a nightclub. This was years ago, when I was young enough to be dragged into a nightclub by friends who liked nightclubs. I don’t like nightclubs. They’re crowded and noisy and full of people who don’t mind pointing out to a naturally skinny person that she’s just too damned skinny for her own good.
Of course, the very second we walked through the door, I became separated from my friends. This is not a comfortable situation for someone who doesn’t like crowds or nightclubs, and especially doesn’t like crowded nightclubs. I became anxious. I became nervous. I took a deep breath and reasoned that my friends would head for the bar to get a drink, and hopefully would wait for me nearby (hopefully having bought me a drink, too…).
I threaded my way through the crowd, not even sure I was headed in the right direction, when I ran smack into a friend I hadn’t seen in about 5 years. She’d been there awhile – was already hammered, but she was a familiar face among a sea of strangers, and I was glad to see her.
“Hey! How are you!”
She looked me up and down like I was a bug under a magnifying glass.
“What pills are you taking?”
I thought at first that she was hoping I could sell her part of my stash – yeah, the stash I didn’t actually have, but still…
“Uh, what do you mean? I don’t have anything…”
“Pills! Pills! What drugs are you on?”
“No, seriously – I don’t have anything.”
She was adamant. And I realized that she wasn’t looking to score anything – she was not impressed with my appearance.
“Look at you! You’re skeletal – that’s dangerous. You have to stop taking whatever shit you’re on.”
This is a woman I’ve known since middle-school. One who has always been aware of my so-called “natural” skinny-ness…
“No, really – I’m not ‘on’ anything.”
“I know a drug-addict when I see one.”
That hurt. I hadn’t managed one drink in this ungodly place so far, and already my night was ruined.
Fast forward a few years – I’m just as skinny, but I’m happily ensconced in a serious relationship with my future husband, the musician. He has a band. It’s a popular band that plays 6 nights a week at various bars around town. There’s even a following – a gaggle of gorgeous girls that show up at every gig, and buy the guys in the band drinks and look at me sideways at the band table.
The band table is directly in front of the stage, and the “band-flies”, as the bass player calls them only want to sit at this table when the guys are on break and sit down, except they don’t generally get invited to. They sit on the table sometimes, while the guys are onstage, and they sit directly in front of me. They don’t like me, because I’m “with the band”. I don’t pay a cover at the door, and I’m an unofficial roadie who helps set up the stage and tear it down. That’s the part they don’t see, because it tends to happen when the bar is closed, but they do see me at the end of every night, when the band stops playing.
That’s when the guys retreat to a back room or a table near the bar to split the pay up, and I get onstage to tear down microphones, my guy’s guitar and set sheets and pack them away. Now the band-flies descend upon the table and talk amongst themselves – loudly – about me.
“Look at Miss Bitch.”
“Yeah, she thinks she’s hot shit, doesn’t she, because he lets her touch his equipment.”
“Skinny slut. Betcha she’s got AIDS. You got AIDS, skinny slut?”
Hard to ignore. It sticks. And it hurts. I try to remind myself that if I were a “big” girl, they’d be calling me “cow” and telling me to eat a salad – it’s not my appearance that pisses them off so much; it’s my appearance on the stage – reminding them that I have a place with the band that they don’t have. It doesn’t help much. I am too skinny. I may always be.
After years of these kinds of things happening, I still get comments, but now they tend to run to “Wow, you’re so lucky to be thin!” and “I’ll be happy to trade you some of this flub!”
I have trouble seeing myself as “lucky”. I know what I look like.
I’m older now, by decades, and I like to think I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable in my own skin. I usually am, too, but sometimes, when I look at my reflection in the mirror… well, sometimes I get a little depressed. At 48, I don’t think I’m going to grow out of my metabolism. My mother was the same way, and it wasn’t until she was in her mid-sixties that she started to gain any noticeable weight – and then she got “roly-poly”. She went from tall and thin to a little, round grandmother. I wish I could say I was looking forward to that era in my life, but secretly I think it will make me even more depressed about my appearance. I am not aging gracefully…
The “fat” mirror made me feel better about myself. Even though I knew it was lying to me, I could dress in the morning in clothes that I loved, look in that mirror and feel “normal”. I had boobs in that mirror. I had curvy hips and nice, meaty legs. I wasn’t just elbows, knees and ribs.
And then, in the very middle of the night a few weeks back, the “fat” mirror committed suicide. It threw itself off the wall and smashed itself against the floor hard enough to wake me up. I thought I’d dreamed it until I got out of bed and found its shattered body on the hardwood floor.
I thought maybe the trains going by at night might have jiggled it off its moorings, but that mirror has been in the same place for several years now, and I think if it was going to be jiggled off by the vibrations of the building, it would have been jiggled off long before now. I believe it jumped off the wall on purpose. I wish I’d known it felt so bad… I’d have been much more appreciative of its efforts to soothe my senses.
Two nights later, a second mirror, one that had hung on a different wall, one that showed my “true” visage, also committed suicide – maybe my mirrors are sick of looking at me? Or maybe I’m just bad at hanging mirrors.
A third mirror, one I took out of storage in my crawlspace, at great expense to the skin of my forearms, I might add, was murdered by the cats before I even had the chance to hang it.
I’m looking at 21 years of bad luck, people. 21 Years.
I’ve since replaced the “fat” mirror – I wanted another warped one, but the only warpy one I could find made me look even taller and even skinnier, so I settled for one that shows me the real Me. I’m getting used to it. I kind of even like it.
I just wish I knew what to say to the women that keep insisting “You’re so lucky to be thin”, while they try to help me find clothing that I don’t swim in.
Random Song-for-the-Day: “Run Fay Run” – Isaac Hayes