I’ve also come to appreciate roundness in many forms as well, Anna Hundert. While I can’t know the weight of body-image expectations women are forced to bear in so many ways, your article did give me an unexpected revelation about my own.
For my whole childhood I was the skinniest kid in the class. It was humiliating always being chosen last for a team, though I didn’t really want to play competitive sports anyway. In my first year at university, in a sad but futile attempt to gain weight, I always had two high-calorie desserts aftet dinner, then a whole tube of Pringle’s potato chips, followed by an hour’s sleep. Every night. For a year. Nothing.
Looking at photos of my hollow-cheeked self from those years, and well into my thirties, I think, “That person looks very sick.” Believe it or not, it wasn’t until I read your article and started to respond to it, that I realized I was. I was sick of being “abnormal.” I was sick of being despised for being gay (even though almost no one knew). I was sick of hiding. My anxiety was constant and debilitating.
I wish that someone along the way had recognized my unhealthy-looking thinness for what it really was: a symptom of self-loathing and fear. I was trying to be invisible.
It has been a torturously slow road to better health and the ample roundness by which it’s now signified in my body. But who would ever have guessed that what I needed to get there was what I was becoming anyway—a gay man with a deep sexual attraction to what in gay culture are referred to as “bears.” A musician who is learning to transfer a well-developed appreciation of sound to the other senses of sight, smell, taste and touch. A lover of people who is learning to accept love without conditions. A person of faith who is developing trust in God’s call to wholeness. An Anglican priest who, simply because it’s required, is learning to be present.