A little while ago, in my other, stupider, blog, I gave my weight as 110 pounds. I would just like to note here that that was false. My current weight is actually 105 pounds, or at least it was when I last weighed myself a few days ago. Of course, it doesn't really make that much of a difference. Either way, I am a skinny little bitch. I've pretty much always been a skinny little bitch; with the exception of during my pregnancies, I have weighed between 100 and 115 pounds since middle school. (At full-term pregnancy, I weighed 126 pounds, which really freaked my first midwife out. At the time, I didn't really get why she was so freaked out. But after three years of doula work, I realized that I had only had one client that weighed under 135 pounds at full-term. My first baby was born at nearly 9 pounds, though, so during my second pregnancy, my midwives paid very little attention to my non-gaining, secure in the knowledge that I can grow a monster fucking baby without growing very much myself.)
Because I am a skinny little bitch, I have been known to take an annoyingly cavalier attitude towards calories, exercise, dieting, and the like. "It's so SILLY to count calories," I have been known to say, hand resting firmly on out-jutting hipbone. This is like a 23-year-old pooh-poohing the notion of a person coloring their white hair. "Why would she DO that?" I used to bleat, caressing my own jet-black mop. "It looks so PRETTY with the white!" I'd like to reach back in time and slap myself for that insouciance, but I really don't need to, as I am already being roundly punished for it by my mother's family's genetic propensity for early whitening. Recently, a friend ran his hand through my hair and assured me there was no white visible at all. This was a sweet gesture, but he was either drunk or lying or both; most of the inner layers of my hair are shot through with white, and I literally grow more white hairs every day. If I follow the pattern set by other women in my family, I will have gone mostly white by the time I turn 45, which will be 10 years and 2.5 months from now. In any case, I try not to be that way anymore about weight matters, because I recognize that I am an awful, lucky little pixie, and that many (most?) other people really do need to think about jogging and limiting ice cream intake and suchlike.
In any case, the reason that my weight is currently towards the bottom of its usual range is that my body has recently embarked upon the precipitous weight-drop that often comes with extended breastfeeding. Here's what happens: your kid hits 12, or 18, or 24 months, and you're still breastfeeding him, and suddenly, it seems like every little bit of excess flesh in your body is melting away into the breastmilk that flows into your baby's mouth.* I am thinner than I was when I complained, in December 2008, of getting thinner. In the mornings, before I have eaten anything, I am positively emaciated, ribcage rising like wings from my torso. My breasts, while still steadily making and dispensing milk, are past that first-year-of-breastfeeding plumpness, and they are suddenly tiny and soft like sweet sleepy mice, and there is no roundness at all to their upper curves unless I wear a padded bra or something else that forces the issue. (My nipples are still enormous, though. "Those are Asian nipples," my midwife said, nodding for emphasis. Midwives know from nipples.) My corduroys keep falling down; I just bought a new belt to help keep them on.
As I wrote in that December 2008 post, I have been known to find the experience of losing weight to be enormously unpleasant. What's even worse, though, is that I sometimes enjoy it. Sometimes, when I have dropped a few pounds for some reason or another (it's never on purpose, I'm not that organized), I start feeling extravagantly attractive, and seriously toying with the idea of actively curtailing my food intake in order to maintain the extreme boniness. It is always kind of horrifying to find myself thinking this way, buying into the enormous cultural misogyny inherent in how highly we value female bodies that appear to be starving to death.** BAD FEMINIST, I say to myself, BAD BAD BAD FEMINIST. And then I pose in the mirror, turning this way and that to see how many bones I can pick out.
Luckily, I am too lazy to do the hard work of actually starving myself, so I always eventually glide out of extreme-bony territory back into run-of-the-mill skinny-little-bitchiness. (In fact, I just stepped on the scale and found that I am already back up to 109 pounds.***) But the impulse lurks, and I sometimes grudgingly sympathize with other skinny little bitches like Cat Marnell, or one or two of my very close female relatives, who take stupid/crazy/unhealthy measures to maintain themselves at 10-plus pounds below their biologically ideal weight, even though their biologically ideal weight would still have them wearing the smallest size that any store carries.
You know, looking back at this post, I am kind of wondering why I started writing it in the first place. What did I have to say? My original motivations have kind of escaped me. I did definitely want to tell you how weird it is to be an intelligent, analytical feminist and still be unable to shake the notion that a starving body is attractive. In fact, I've been meaning to discuss that here for awhile, and was glad to get the chance to do so. But I suspect that, on the whole, I wrote this in order to talk about how skinny I am. I wrote it because I re-read that post in my other blog and noticed that it said I was 110 pounds, and I thought, "I'm not 110 pounds. What if people think I am 110 pounds now? I need people to know that I'm not 110 pounds." So that's it, really. I wrote this to be sure that you understand that I am a skinny person and capable of getting even skinnier. I know that this is not interesting or important at all. But it is true.
|Monkey sox: gift from my husband.|
*Actually, it doesn't just SEEM that way. It's literally how breastmilk production works: the fat in breastmilk is made with fat mobilized from your body. So, the longer you breastfeed, the more fat you lose. This can be good if you've got some to spare, and maybe less good if the only excess fat you have is in your tits and ass. Because: bye-bye, tits and ass.
**My friend T points out that this is, of course, not a UNIVERSAL cultural value. She is a Black American chick who mostly dates African (like, from Africa) men, and that particular dating pool is not at all interested in the starved look. Once, T says, she dated a man who habitually called her fat when they were in bed together, you know, like as a complimentary expression of sexual arousal. Like, "Oh my god, your thighs are so fat."
***I don't want to give the impression that I weigh myself all the time. I don't at all. In fact, I never even owned a scale until I got pregnant with my second baby, when I had to buy one because, if you are having a home birth, your midwives require you to keep track of your own goddamn weight, thank you very much. The only reason I thought to check my weight a few days ago is that my friend HA said I was looking kind of waste-away-ish, and she speculated that maybe I was entering that starving phase of extended nursing. And the only reason I thought to check my weight again just now was because I was writing this post. Normally, I don't look at a scale from one year's end to the next, so that any "weight" anxiety is actually not so much about weight and more about concavity as manifested in the mirror.