What My Body Looks Like Right Now: An Insider’s View

As I prepare for the holidays, this image on my computer screen will remind me that while the changes have been incremental, I was able to slow down and appreciate the gradual process of transformation I’ve been through over the past few months.

As an obsessive person who is all about details and precision, every photo I take is scrutinized and analyzed in real time. I like to think I’m pretty observant but I always have to sit back and chuckle. This piece of paper is on display; it’s a snapshot of me in the morning and the picture is from my kitchen. If you’ve read any of the preceding material, this should be familiar to you. We often say, “If you want to know what I look like, look at my body”; this is the equivalent to “if you want to know what I think about what people around me are wearing, look at how much I drink coffee in public.” There’s nothing wrong with a little self-reflection, but I don’t think this makes this one any less important or worthy of sharing. Also of note: I’m wearing red for our annual Thanksgiving party that I hosted with several friends this year. Why? The red makes my skin look red and my hair redder, but also makes my body stand out more. When other people see my dress, I can imagine them saying “oh, she’s a bit different from everyone else.” I am very proud to live in this world in which white skin = beauty and I do so love and appreciate all the compliments I get for this. However, this is not to say there’s no problem to be found in the world.

The title of this piece has given me a good laugh. To tell the truth, I had not planned on writing a little essay about myself about my body. But I was struck by the fact that my body, which is pretty much the only thing I take seriously and consider to be a reflection of who I am, seems to me to be in such distress in an increasingly white society. There’s something that I feel that it’s important for me to acknowledge here. I’m a fat fat fat woman who’s proud to be an “obese fat fat woman,” at 5’2″ and 170 (which is actually quite a lot for my age and weight-class). There’s nothing like this anywhere in the world. I think the world is starting to realise this, just as we’re starting to see people of colour become more visible (although we’re still not seeing enough). But at the same time, we’re still doing something really fundamental to the way we look without realising it: we are being forced to choose between an increasingly narrow-minded and narrow-minded world that is trying to push back against people of colour and non-western women/femmes with a desire to look normal again, versus an expanding, expansive, diverse world where all women and femmes have the right (and, to borrow a phrase from a great writer, the right not to “look normal”). This is something that has been at the forefront of my mind and I think it’s time to acknowledge/talk about it. If we’re going to be honest with each other, and with ourselves, I think it’s time for us to accept that we are all going to have to choose between being normal and looking more like a normal woman/femme.

This image of me is on display in my apartment. I’ve used it in my art, at the grocery store, for my calendar, in my email, so on and so forth (and I’ve even shown it on the cover of my book!). This picture captures what I am and what I look like right now. This is me and my future.

This is me and what I’ll look like in five years’ time.