I have this picture of how I used to look. I’m wearing cutoff jeans, a sports bra, and a bike helmet, and I’m fist-pounding the sky on a bridge over Storrow Drive. You can see each and every one of my ribs. It’s online somewhere I’m sure, but I’m too lazy to go find. Anyway, this look is probably not healthy. It’s probably what the tabloids like to call “scary skinny”. But I didn’t WORK for that body – I just purged myself into it. It actually got awkward – people would see me eating whatever I was eating and ask me how I did it, how did I stay so thin? “Bulimia” was always on the tip of my tongue as an answer (I’m nothing if not direct) but a polite smile and a nod would usually suffice.
These days, nobody’s asking me how I did it.
And so I’m going to the gym.
I was kind of all whatever about having to actually EXERCISE my way into a body that didn’t make me want to self-immolate, until I saw this image on Pinterest. “YOU EARN YOUR BODY”, it says, in boldface white-on-black, and underneath are a series of resolutions ending with the vow: “I will earn my body”. And this? This totally threw me.
I realized, suddenly, that this body has always been a “thing” to me, something Other, and whatever it looked like was not good enough. Whatever it FELT like was not good enough. In fact, whatever it felt like was usually pretty bad. But now, now that I’ve kind of made this commitment to work myself back, I wonder if maybe, finally, I’ll feel at home in this body. I wonder if one day I’ll have a body I’m proud to earn.