My body image has been a pretty sore spot for me for most of my life. I often heard the term ‘Built like a Brick Shithouse’ but it’s supposed to be used as a positive description of a ‘well-built’ boy – not a negative description of a ‘large-built’ girl, but there I was, apparently built like my father and his father before him, and so on. I am like the 10th generation of my family’s Brick Shithouses. How honoured do I feel to carry on these enormous genes? Well, my cup isn’t exactly overflowing.
The main problem was that I wasn’t ever going to be a ‘normal’ size, whatever that means; it is physically impossible. I know shows like SouthPark have mocked and tarnished the excuse of being ‘big boned’ but that is exactly what I am. Even when I was at a peak of fitness, at about 14 years old, with no body fat to be found, I was still a good 6-8 inches wider than all my friends. I had no bulges or ripples; I had curves in the right places, but just bigger all around. And it didn’t matter – kids of all ages would call me fat, fatso, blimp, and many more lovely insults. I tried not to let it bother me, at least not in public. I almost gave a kid a concussion by slamming his head on a desk when he called me fat – that was in grade one. In grade 7, I kicked an obnoxious kid in grade 5 in the ass so hard that I think I felt his intestines; he also was taunting me about my weight, but he learned his lesson. Both times I barely got in trouble, as both teachers told my mother that each boy had it coming, but that I ‘should be’ told that violence doesn’t solve anything. Ya, ya.
For a brief while I contemplated taking up bulimia or anorexia and I was mildly obsessed with teen fiction novels that dealt with those issues. Obviously, I ignored the seriousness of these disorders at the time. I liked how some anorexics divided their food – as my pre-existing, yet undiagnosed O.C.D. had me doing that already. At 12 years old, I realized that even if I tried to starve myself, I would always be big. It wasn’t as if I was a size zero under all my layers of skin and bones. The bones pretty much had to stay the size that they were. So really, all anorexia could do for me would be to deprive myself of the food that I loved so much. Forget that!
Then there was bulimia – I already had a tendency to binge eat, especially cereals, but was I able to bring it back up? I tried a couple times, but I guess I didn’t have very good gag reflexes (which would prove to come in handy a few years later). There was also something else I learned in my fiction books, and that was bulimia had a couple unattractive side effects (apart from the obviously fatal health issues), including hair loss and pitted teeth.
Although I had a poor body image, I was surprisingly vain. I had 4 features that I was happy with: eyes, hair, teeth and tits (yes, even at 12 – I was an early bloomer). To purposely wreck 2 of my favourite features for the sake of losing a couple pounds was utterly ridiculous. Again, I didn’t process the dangerousness of the disease; that meant nothing to me at that age, but there was no way in hell I was going to ruin my perfectly straight teeth and beautifully thick blonde hair for a few barf sessions.
My body image struggles continued well into high school and university, especially with guys. There were always insensitive assholes, including that same guy I beat up in grade one; he grew up to be one of the biggest festering cysts on the face of the planet. There did (and still do) exist some guys that were capable of finding women sexy for who they really are, and not just as a size-specific cut of meat. It was these guys that I had some pretty incredible relationships with, and frankly, the only ones worthy my time anyway.