Convincing yourself that the body you’ve always had is just temporary — that all of this will melt away when you can shrink the expanse of your skin. The dreams that come at night. A thin body, one that tapers and flares where it should. Skin smooth and taut over a tastefully muscular abdomen. The life that flows from that body: a loving relationship, phenomenal sex, exquisite vacations, a clean and cozy home, uninterrupted happiness. The flood of hope that comes when you wake from that dream. The crushing disappointment when you remember the body you’ve failed to tame.
Truthfully, there are no clear answers. Whether or not someone is fat enough is a slippery question. We’re all taught to believe we’re impossibly fat. We use I feel fat as a shorthand for feeling ugly, unlovable, failed. We call actors and models fat when they gain ten pounds. What constitutes fat is watered down, in part because we do the diluting, believing fat to be an all-purpose insult for others, or a stinging insult for ourselves. Regardless of our size, many of us have been called fat, a short word spit at us with malice, sharpened to a razor’s edge, whether or not it’s true.
I would try to get him to assign the sigh a cause and he would assert that it was meaningless and to ignore it. I could never let it go, though. Because his sighs felt like soft accusations, made worse by the fact that I could not resolve an unspecified slight. His sighs signaled discontent, and I have been groomed by society to believe that his discontent is unwaveringly my responsibility. And so somewhere buried beyond my ability to transcend, every sigh felt like a declaration that I was disappointing him. And for many women, an accusation of being disappointing, no matter how soft, always feels like a threat of disposability.