Dear Diary,

Let’s talk about fat.

Let’s talk about being fat and societal expectations and fatphobia and food. I want to talk about all those things because I struggle with them on the daily. I’m currently far fatter than I’d like to be, and it’s all I can think about.

Well, not all I can think about because I also think about pasta and burgers and tacos and carbs and how much I love them all .

Eating has always been an experience for me. I know some people who eat just because they need to sustain their bodies. But I eat for pleasure. Going out to eat and discovering new restaurants, new menus, new foods is one of my favorite things on earth. And I also love to cook at home, trying new recipes, emulating chefs on The Food Network, imagining I’m on a watered-down version of Chopped.

See where this is going?

I don’t eat to live. I live to eat.

And it’s caught up with me.

At 53, my body doesn’t metabolize like it used to. Menopause, age, hormones, thyroids—they all exist to thwart my eating experiences. I feel very ganged up on.

I think back to my younger years when I was caught in that all too familiar cycle of bingeing and purging that so many of us have engaged in. And at 53, I can still binge with the best of them. It’s the purging that no longer appeals. (Not that the actual purging ever appealed. But the end result did.) I think about the body I had back then, even before I started the B&P, and I wish I could have loved her more. She was beautiful. She was perfect. And somewhere along the way, she was told she was not.

And she believed it.

Societal expectations, of course, played a part. I mean, I grew up in the 80s—the Supermodel era. When Cindy Crawford and Linda Evangelista graced the covers of most magazines, it was hard not to compare my body to theirs. But I was never going to be a Supermodel. I didn’t even inherit my mom’s graceful figure and sculpted face. I was my dad through and through. And he was a football player in the Marines. I had that strong, athletic build—I was all linebacker shoulders and thick wrists. But when I was younger, it worked. I was an athlete. A good one; a strong one. When athletic thighs, however, are no longer benefiting from squats and sprints, they don’t stay. Instead, they become my current thighs. And that’s a sight no one really wants to see.

When I was 16 and my body was fit and tight and functional, my basketball coach said to me nonchalantly, “You’d be so much faster if you lost 20 pounds.” Those words, spoken to an impressionable teenager who happened to wear a size 10 instead of a size 4 stuck. And they stuck hard.

They are still stuck to my skin, to my bones, to my psyche.

“If only you’d do this, you could be this.”

I think about those words now when I try so hard to just love my body. This body that grew and birthed four beautiful babies who are now amazing, productive adults. The body that survived sexual abuse as a kid. The body that remained strong and healthy despite the setbacks of life.

I should love that body. This body. 

I should revere it.

But there is shame in being fat.

Just like internalized homophobia, I have internalized fatphobia. I look at fat bodies (like mine), and I think: I don’t want that. And yet, I am that.

Irreconcilable differences.

My gorgeous daughter is a lover of fat people. She says it all the time. She loves all bodies, respects all bodies, thinks all bodies are amazing in their own way—the fat ones, the skinny ones, the disabled ones. She is far more actualized than I am in that regard. I cannot love my own fat body, and I battle every day with how to either change or accept it.

But at the core of me, I don’t want to do the work to change it. I want to play pickleball and swim a few laps and hike when my back allows it. I don’t want a rigid exercise regimen, and I don’t want to limit my food, and that’s the crux of my problem. I just want to be. But my mind says, “No. Who you are is not okay.” My mind has always said that. My mind is my biggest enemy.

My mind is an asshole.

And unworthiness is a bitch.

There would be so much peace within me if I could just exist.

But that’s never been my forte. I cut my hair, then grow it out, then I cut it again. I adopt new fashions. I buy new shoes. I am good at many things. Contentedness is not one of them. I’m always searching for the next best thing. In so many ways, that’s a positive thing. It keeps me from settling; keeps me learning and growing and evolving. But in the worst ways, it’s exhausting.

I love the experience of eating a beautiful meal. And I always feel guilty when my stomach is fed and full.

It’s fucked up, I know. And every psychologist worth her weight will tell you that I’m trying to fill a hole inside of me. I’ve been filling that hole for as long as I can remember, and it’s still a deep, dark cavern of emptiness. Is it paternal abandonment? Self-loathing? Growing up poor? It’s all the above and more.

My earliest memories of grocery shopping are an emotional roller coaster. My hardworking, penny-pinching, highly responsible mom would take us to Ernie’s Supermarket in Greenfield on the day she was paid. Carrie and I both looked forward to this outing. We would line our purchases up on the conveyor belt from most important to least important. Meat, milk, fruits, veggies, and Merit Ultra Lights would go first. Then pantry staples like soups and boxed dinners. Last would be donuts, Little Debbies, and Lucky Charms. Mom had a budget, and as soon as that number showed on the register, we were finished. Carrie and I reshelved what was left, and I would fight back tears as I put the damn Twinkies back in their place for someone else to enjoy.

When I got my first job out of college and had a regular bimonthly paycheck, the first thing I would do on payday was go out to eat. Whether it was pizza or a chain restaurant or a dumpy diner, I would revel in the knowledge that I had money to throw away on food that was primarily for enjoyment instead of for nourishment. And for 40 years, that’s been my M.O.

Food as entertainment.

But food as entertainment results in a body that’s not quite as entertaining. It’s a battle I will most likely fight until the day I die. Maybe someday soon, I’ll become enlightened and learn to love the body that I’m in. Maybe I’ll even decide to change it. Maybe not.

But I’ll still eat the Twinkies.

Love,

Katrina

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