Once every six or seven years, I get fat. It’s not a planned thing, like I don’t sit down and work out a mind map for adding junk to my trunk, it just seems to happen. Which isn’t to say I get skinny in those intervening years, I just fluctuate from nicely slim to nicely curvy and back and forth until my body just says, “Bitch, I’ma get you all chunked up” and next thing you know I can’t fit into my jeans.
My weight’s always been a problem. I come from a family of big women on both sides, and it’s a battle I’ve fought since I hit puberty. I have been underweight too, in my early to mid 20s, so much so, I’m pretty sure my dad thought I was a junkie. I wasn’t, but I must admit, I loved being thin. I looked revolting naked, but man, I looked hot in clothes! Clothes I’d always wanted to wear but was too afraid to because of my fat bits. I was lean and limber and for a few years I actually liked what I saw in the mirror, and therefore I liked myself.
Isn’t that an awful thing to recognise about oneself? This confession that ‘I was happy when I was thin’ fills me with dismay. The years I have spent pondering the mysteries of the Universe, searching for answers to the unasked questions, and seeking enlightenment all collapse in the face of the absolute banality of that one statement:
‘I was happy when I was thin.’
I’m performing in a musical revue next week. This will be the first time I have sung musical theatre numbers since I was 16. It’s not a huge deal, but I’m looking forward to it. In the process of choosing a costume, I tried on a few of my slinky black dresses last night, only to find that most of them didn’t quite fit, especially over the boobage area. I struggled a bit with a sense of consternation over this fact, but given that I had had a kinesiology session earlier in the day, I was feeling quite buoyant and unwilling to give in to the fat-hating gremlin that lives in my head and whispers nasty things in my ear. Tonight, however … Well, tonight it has hit me smack in the face that yes, I am fat again. Not the “fat” where the body is a bit flabby but with the help of some carefully chosen layers and maybe some Spanx pants one can hide it and still look sleek, oh no no no. This is the “fat” where the body has actually changed shape and no amount of clever dressing or suck-me-in-knicker-wearing is going to hide the bountiful 15 kilos that have found their way onto my tall and already curvy frame.
The realisation of this made me cry. I cried because I have to get up on that stage next week and sing some quite difficult songs to an audience of my peers and I feel revolting. Revolting, repugnant, repulsive and rotund.
And I’m really, really pissed off that I feel that way. I should not feel worthless and ugly and self-conscious about my abilities as a performer because of the way I look at the moment, but I do and it angers me. I could launch into a massive diatribe about the media and its role in perpetuating the ridiculous thin ideal that gets shoved down our throats day in, day out; I could have a go at the industry I choose to work in and the pressures it puts on all of us actors to conform to a physical archetype; I could rant and rave against the injustices of a society that’s into fat-shaming and thin-worship, but you know what? This is the world we live in. This is how it is, and to be honest, I think I’ve realised I’m just a little too lazy, too old and too tired to get off my arse and commit the time and energy to achieving the kind of body that would fit in to that paradigm. Instead, I just feel shit about myself, and cry, and emotionally flagellate myself for being so crap at being thin, and life, and stuff.
It’s hard. It only gets harder the older I get. I don’t have any answers for this. Yes, I could go to the gym five days a week and cut out sugar for life, but I’d be miserable. I do need to exercise more, but since my surgery earlier this year my body has taken its time to be ready to go back to my old routine. Right now, I feel so overwhelmed with the pain of the hair shirt I’m wearing that the thought of all the things I’d have to do to kick start any weight loss is just making me feel worse.
Fuck this life sometimes. Honestly, fuck it. It’s difficult, and it hurts, and there’s no end to it. It’s at these times that the challenges must be met, however.This is the time to maintain vigilance in the face of internal adversity.
I’m still going to sing next week, even if I do feel like I’ll be heifering it across the stage. The show must go on, and life must go on. The lesson herein, kiddies, is that sometimes one just has to adjust to the circumstances that arise for no other reason than ‘the show must go on’.
Now excuse me while I stuff myself into my Spanx. I’ve got some songs to sing.