I’m going out to Los Angeles tomorrow to visit my best friend since freshman year of high school. We met in algebra and bonded over being able to apply eyeshadow (a Maybelline lavender trio) during class without getting caught, and we’ve been partaking in such inanity ever since. Although our reciprocal texts, emails, calls and phone messages feel like a never ending game of conversational volleyball, a few days face to face is intensely nourishing. Old friends–those who knew you pre-Formerly, when you were the things you are now no longer–are the keepers of your context, which is incredibly valuable.
I’m dreading the trip a little bit, though, because I’m having a crap body image week. Nothing like heading out to the land of the Baywatch Babe and the aspiring starlet when you feel like Jabba the Hut. Being considered attractive in New York is much easier; more than one type of pretty is appreciated, and what’s more, there’s always some fat old guy sitting on a milk crate drinking a 40 who will make vile sucking noises as you walk by. It’s gross, but you don’t go unnoticed. In LA, not only is there less loitering on the part of gross old guys, but there’s practically no walking.Â Blond, skinny and big-breasted is the look everyone seems to aspire to.
Of course, bad body image has little to do with how I look. I feel fine—even good—about my perfectly imperfect mom bod most of the time. But when I’ve got a lot on my mind, stuff I’d rather not think about, I start to notice my belly hanging over my waistband, or the back fat that pops out above and below my bra. I don’t want to dwell on my stepfather, who is very ill, and I can’t stand feeling as helpless as I do to make life better for him or my mom. I don’t want to think about going back to work at an office where, during the time I was off writing my book, they laid off half the staff. Even chewing on the about the good things—I finished my book, and the publisher reportedly digs it—fills me with anxiety, which in turn makes me feel like a giant pudge. I “feel” fat, as if fat were an emotion, like sad or stressed. Feeling fat, at least, has the benefit of being familiar.
As it always does, the crap body image phase will end, one day soon or even later today. Nothing will have changed. I will weigh the same. But the feeling will have moved through me and once again I’ll be shocked—shocked—at how my mental state can actually seem change my reflection in the mirror.
Here’s hoping the crap body image gets locked in the aircraft lavatory, or better yet, stays at the gate.