I’ll never forget the way I first heard of your mother. A mutual friend told me about your wedding day: how happy you looked, the way the ceremony shook and shone with joy for you and your partner. At the reception, he overheard your mother, talking to you.
“Well, we can’t all reach goal weight for the big day, can we?”
He watched your face fall, drained of its color. You forced a smile and figured out how to slip away. You didn’t return to her after that.
I know how much it hurts to feel that constant pressure, especially from the ones you love most. The friends, the aunts, the exes. The pressure to lose weight before the wedding, before the summer, after the baby, after the holidays. The impossibility of those last 5, 10, 20 pounds. The ways in which your body is always slightly wrong, its ideal self perpetually just out of reach.
The inescapability of friends talking about how much they hate their arms, bellies, thighs; friends looking for diet buddies; friends frowning at their reflections in dressing room mirrors; friends looking for diet buddies, even when those diets masquerade as cleanses or detoxes. The insidious closeness that comes with bonding over hating your bodies. It must be so much for you to bear.
And you don’t just bear it — none of us do. We become it. It takes you over, a virus that infects the way you see yourself, then the way you see those around you. Even the ones you love most. The ease with which it slips into your bloodstream, latches onto you, seeps into the ways you see your friends, your family, strangers on the street.
The moments when you catch yourself thinking she shouldn’t be wearing that about an older woman in a sleeveless top, or who wants to see that? about a fat man at the beach. How easily you forget how much it hurts to be on the receiving end of looks like the one you must be giving right now. How hard it is to stop those thoughts, even when you want to. Even when you try.
It means so much to be able to talk about all of this with you. You and I are breaking a silence together, speaking for the first time about the ways in which both of us are shamed, hurt, pressured, all because of the shape of our skin. All because of the space we occupy…