Monday, December 3, 2012

Joy Division

The thing about all of this introspection is that you can find odd new things about yourself all of the time that you might not even believe if someone else told you. I have spent all of this time reminding myself that I’m worthy of love and happiness and every darn thing that every other person is worthy of. And most of the time, I seem to believe it, but still…

Driving home from work a few days ago I was feeling strangely fine, listening to my iPod and singing, really quite happy. Traffic was light (for a change). I was bopping around in my seat and smiling. Then, up ahead, I noticed three teenage boys on the sidewalk, and that I would be passing them in seconds. Somehow my entire demeanor suddenly changed, before I could even think about it. My smile disappeared, replaced with a serious, worried expression. Something in my chest contracted a little. I whizzed past them without incident, of course – after all, what could they do or say to me in my car for Pete’s sake?

I was disturbed by my reaction. Yes, teenage boys have been the bane of my existence since I was a child, but I’m a middle-aged lady these days and besides, I’m SAFE now. What the hell?

Of course, me being me, I had to analyze it for a while. It seemed to me that *I* still believe that I am allowed to be happy. It wasn’t guilt. It felt more like fear…. I wanted to hide my joy. I didn’t want to be – what? Sneered at, belittled, attacked? For smiling? For joy?

I don’t like that feeling.

I saw an image this morning that reminded me of this idea again. As soon as I saw it, I felt almost offended, and definitely fearful. Here’s the image.

I couldn’t help but think that this beautiful woman was doing a terrible thing. Not the eating, not the enjoyment, but that she was doing it so *publicly*. How could she put herself out there for other people to see, to be so vulnerable, so open to ridicule and attack?

And it was more than just having her picture taken and posted publicly, it was her expression of joy, of the joy of cake and her body and her life all at the same time. I visit a couple of body acceptance sites that post pictures of beautiful, brave fat people all of the time, so it wasn’t her body. It was the joy and the eating. How could she bear to do that?

How can I bear to do that?

Closing notes: The image above was found via Ragen Chastain from the Facebook site, 1 Million Vaginas. Other fat-positive sites I like - most images are Not Safe for Work!! - are Adipositivity and Uppity Fatty. Enjoy!

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