Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Feeling Fat

Swiss Toni made an interesting comment over at Lizzy's (Literary Hoax...I'm too lazy for links this morning) yesterday about feeling fat on the days that he doesn't exercise. I was completely fascinated by this for two reasons: 1) Swiss Toni is the epitome of long and lean. I don't know that there is a lot of body fat on him. 2) It was a man making the comment.

I am used to women acquaintances, friends and family talking about feeling fat, but it is rare for me to be aware of men who mention it. Part of this may be that I don't have a lot of close male relationships in my life, so my experience is fairly limited.

Our perceptions and awareness of our body are baffling to me sometimes. Our body is a fairly concrete thing. We can feel it and look in the mirror and see it for what it is, but our feelings about it distort it in a way that is fascinating. I'm a fat woman. This is reality, but I will distort my sense of fatness down when I look at other women...most often viewing other fat women of similar size to be larger than I am. It's rare that I do this with thinner women.

I'm also aware that for thinner women, they tend to look at bigger women and think of themselves as the same size as the bigger person. I've often wondered if there's a set perception of ourselves at a certain size and despite the reality of how our body really is, we only see ourselves in that one way.

But I'm going off on a tangent. Today I feel fat. I don't always feel fat, even though I am. I'm very aware that I am PMSing and therefore I am probably retaining water, which causes my clothes to feel tighter and that because of hormonal changes there is a very real change in the way that I view myself. So most of the time, when I think to myself, "I feel fat." I check in about where I am in my cycle.

But it's those other times that intrigue me. When my clothes fit the same, and there is no hormonal wonkiness. It's not really just about not liking my body, it's about a bodily feeling of weightiness and lack of motivation. I think it may be more of a transient depressed state because even as I describe it I want to crawl into bed for the rest of the day (well, I want to anyway today, but that's another coversation).

I wonder more than a bit why we describe this state as "feeling fat?" The fat activist in me is a bit disappointed that "feeling fat" doesn't mean the same as "feeling phat." And I recognize that a stranger's perception of me as a fat woman is somehow connected to their own ideas of what "feeling fat" means. I know that mine are and it is more than disconcerting.

Okay, I've run out of time to explore this topic further...

A brief update on S: He may not be coming home on Wednesday, as planned. His sister-in-law is very ill, and last he wrote, the family was sitting vigil in the hospital. I'm sending them a lot of love, and trying to stay patient.


Mark said...

some days - in fact, every day, I feel fat and unfit. I know I should lose wait, but I don't. I judge myself by my personality, that's the barometer of the soul (not the waistline)

Aravis said...

Sending good thoughts to S and his family!

I've known a few men who lamented being fat, but it does seem to be women who do this to themselves more often. Like you if I'm feeling fat or bloated I check in with my internal cyclic calendar. Most of the time this reassures me, but not always. For me it seems to depend on the day and my mood as to whether I feel fatter or thinner than I am. I can feel thin and then see a photo recently taken in which I'm considerably plumper than I thought. Or conversely I'll think I'm fat and then catch a happy glimpse of myself in the mirror. Perhaps it's because I've been both extremely thin or obese at different times in my life? I don't know. I'm trying to let go either way, preferring to just eat healthy and try to get some exercise as much for my mental/emotional state as for the physical.

Very thought-provoking post, Spins!

Mark said...

tgwait! weight you twerp!