G’afternoon my glorious peeps!
My friend Kemmy is having kind of a shitty day. You know what would make her happy, though? An unexpected outpouring of support and comfort from friends and strangers alike!
Send her a message, would you? Put some love in her box. Tell her she’s awesome (if you don’t know her: trust me, she is). Tell her it’s gonna be okay. Tell her she’d make the best superhero ever (she would, take it from me). Tell her you know what it’s like to have a cruddy Tuesday, and tell her that Wednesday will be so much better. (And if it’s not better, well, at least it’s not Tuesday.)
SEATBELTS, EVERYONE! Let’s make Kemmy’s day better!
Let me tell you about a few things that make me mad.
During the latter part of my senior year of high school, aggressive trial medication coupled with bi-weekly chemotherapy treatments results in fluid retention on my part. My face is a little puffy. My abdomen is puffier still. I am encouraged by my parents to hide the changes at school with baggy t-shirts—“So people don’t make fun of you!”—but one night I am asked to attend an awards ceremony to receive an academic commendation. The dress code rules out casualwear. When I walk out of my room in a form-fitting sweater, ready to leave for the ceremony, my mom and dad look at each other, look at me again, and say, “Honey, it’s time to talk about your diet.” These two people who drive me to the hospital almost every other day: these two people who see me go days without eating, who watched me win my second-degree black belt with a shunt in my arm—these two people, they still look at me and think less of me because the sweater’s fabric curves over my belly.
Fast forward to college a few years later. Chemo three times a week. I’m too poor to afford a meal plan or groceries—I am exhausted and literally starving, and tumors are eating up my insides in the meantime too. I run into several people I haven’t seen in a while. At bus stops they stare at me—during seminars their eyes comb me, head to toe. They all hug me and whisper, “Ash, you look so good now, so small, so healthy,” without knowing I am dying in their arms.
Now. I visit home for a weekend after a long absence and the only compliment my dad can think to offer as he sweeps me into an embrace is, “There’s my daughter! You’re so skinny!”
A woman from my mom’s office gifts me a leather coat for helping her son with a test. I thank her, almost speechless. She replies, “No problem! Glad someone can wear it. Congrats on your weight loss, by the way—your mom’s so proud of you! She talks about it all the time!”
One of my closest friends, having lost a lot of weight over a period of years, gleefully uses the word fat as his greatest insult. To him it means disgusting. It means ugly. He calls me fat offhandedly, over and over, and I am thus constantly reminded that he thinks I am disgusting. That I am ugly.
Let me tell you about one thing that makes me happy.
Elena uses the word fat to describe me and that’s all it is: a descriptor. It’s not an insult or a judgment or a sentence—from her lips it’s just a word, like freckled or nearsighted or tan or dexterous. It carries with it no implication of ugliness or fault. She likes it. She likes me. Loves me. All of me. Whatever it is—strength, softness. Whatever I am.
I need some book recommendations. What’s good out there, I wonder? What tale would you have me spend hours getting lost in? Fiction, please! Beyond that, hit me. Let’s see what sticks.