I have made no secret about the fact that Beloved is really quite gorgeous, inside and out. Or if I have, let it be known that for a man of almost forty two years one could not accuse him of “going to seed”. A polite term my Mum uses when she is trying to explain to me that a nice young man I used to go to church with has turned up all fat and bald. In short Beloved is smoking hot. Not in a metrosexual way he doesn’t manscape, spend more time in the bathroom than me or have an age inappropriate hairstyle. He is basically all man, replete with calloused hands and muscles. Enough said.
To keep himself in such superb condition he applies all sorts of common sense. When it comes to dining out he orders mash instead of chips then usually steals half the chips off my plate. It’s cute and quirky and cuts both our guilt at eating fatty food in half. It’s a win win.
Tonight we adhered to our usual dining out ritual, he ordered his meal with the standard dietary adjustment, I teased him and he grumbled about middle age spread as he worryingly patted his rock hard abs. My dinner arrived before Beloved and his left hand dived onto my plate like a greedy seagull trying to make a daring getaway with one of my chips. This time I stopped his hand mid air and gave him a playful reprimand about watching his waist. He immediately gave up pursuit and reminded me that if I ever got fat he would leave me so eat those chips at your risk. I in turn reminded him of my threat to leave him if he ever became slow and stupid and he did his best to look mildly offended. He may not have flinched but internally I was seething.
For his troubles I showed him my best impression of a blizzard and was C.O.L.D. Beloved had touched a raw nerve. He may as well have told me that my bum looked fat in my jeans because he had committed a cardinal sin without really knowing it. Little did he know that lately I have been feeling fat and I suspect I am carrying a little more cuddle than comfortable. I feel self-conscious about it. It’s bad enough that I feel uncomfortable let alone bloody Beloved threatening me with total rejection if I decide to live on hot chips and gravy until the end of my days.
I thawed somewhat through dinner but thought myself into total righteous indignation on the drive home. By the time we got to bed I was sub-zero again. I made up a bed in the spare room in the eventuality of fireworks not pertaining to the cuddling kind.
We crawl into bed and Beloved snuggles up to me and asks me if everything is OK because I seem angry?
Here comes a critical juncture to our evening. Do I go all dramatic? Do I stonewall? Do I rage and scream at him? Do I utter that four letter F word no man wants to hear and insist I’m “fine” darling, nothing is the matter, then give him the cold shoulder all night? No dear reader, been there done ALL of that. It NEVER ends well. Many a lonely sleepless night has been had cracking the complete shits about something that probably could have been handled in polite adult conversation, if I hadn’t gone and lost my head about it. Lesson? Use my words, nicely and try to remember it’s not always what he has said but what I am TELLING MYSELF about what he has said.
Instead, I said something along the lines of “well darling I am angry and I don’t want to get into conflict with you but you have pissed me off though.” Beloved earnestly replied “Why, have I done something wrong, what have I said?” Bless him.
“It’s just that no woman wants to hear that her husband is going to leave her if she gets fat, I know where you are coming from but it still doesn’t mean I want to be reminded of it, no woman in the whole wide world wants to hear that. I am mad almost by default. Although I can’t really get mad at you because I know I said that mean stuff about you getting slow and stupid and we made those jokes about your life insurance but it was only because I was so mad I felt like breaking a plate over your head instead”.
Beloved then went onto say that he probably wouldn’t leave me if I got fat but it would put a strain on our relationship and that we’d cross that bridge if we ever got to it. I explained that if he decided to become a complete a couch potato gain 50 kilos sit around all day watching TV, drinking beer, eating chips and playing with his pubes while sporting a bad comb-over then it wouldn’t be much incentive for me to stay either. He certainly wouldn’t be the man I married and his behaviour would be indicative of a bigger problem. I would expect him to address said problem and not stuff it down with emotional eating and addictions.
So there it was, out in the open. An old conversation had come full circle once again. We laid our cards on the table if either of us get fat it’s probably going to be curtains. I know that flies in the face of every preconceived romantic notion we have about marriage and unconditional love. What we are basically saying is, I love you, but. The fat clause. Our honest truth.
We aren’t saying I am not going to love you if you get fat but we are saying it is going to be really challenging to stay with you if you stop caring for and loving yourself. It’s not in so much as how you look but how you treat yourself on the inside that will manifest itself on the outside. It would be the same for any self-destructive behaviour. If Beloved started up a drug addiction the door wouldn’t even hit me on the way out. I abhor drugs and have zero tolerance.
I clearly understand Beloved’s point of view. We have literally ran the gamut of fun runs and marathons together. I have supported him through intensive training regimes for long distance triathlons and cried heaps harder than him at the finish line and I was only spectating. We have hiked up mountains, taken in lofty views and accidentally got caught in blizzards. He trusts me with his life as I belay while he rock climbs and we give each other our bodies as we share our intense love. So much of our life revolves around being fit, healthy and getting the most out of our bodies, if something were to change that dynamic then it would inevitably shift the balance of our whole union.
Yet for all of Beloved’s earnest yearning for a partner of his physical equal I don’t think he truly understands the immense pressure on women to look a certain way and that’s the bit that pisses me off most, not at him, he is simply Beloved, all alpha male and biologically driven to worry about the future of his seed. I get pissed off with the media at large for being so obsessed with how we look, how we act, how we dress, how much we weigh, how much we’ve gained, how much we’ve lost. We are not judged on our deeds, our hearts, our minds. Only our ability to be aesthetically pleasing as possible. Every single media outlet continually bombards us with advice on how best to conform to societal expectations of beauty. I get pissed off at us as females in general for holding ourselves to these ridiculous ideals.
As a young kid my sisters continually teased me and called me “fat” or “fairy elephant”. We had friends of the family who visited my parent’s house and used to call me Jaws, mocking me for the amount of food I ate. Basically from a fairly young age the one message I received about myself loud and clear was that I was a fat, pudgy and a target for ridicule. One day sitting in the school library amongst my peers we did that whole teenage girl fishing for compliments thing. We went around the table and complained to everyone about how fat we were. When it was my turn for flabby self-flagellation one of the girls turned to me and said most emphatically “Fiona you are not fat”. Of course I didn’t believe her and insisted to the contrary, I even explained how my sisters constantly teased me about being fat. I can still remember her so clearly putting her hand on my arm, looking at me intently and urging me to go home, look in the mirror and she what she can see. Apparently I wasn’t fat. So I did. I went home and SAW myself, really, for the first time and I wasn’t fat at all! Neither was I rake like, I was in fact completely normal. That moment in time I realised I wasn’t in fact fat, is still indelibly etched in my mind.
By the time I became a fully blown teenager I realised I was never going to be as skinny, as hot, as pretty as blah blah fucketity blah blah as the next girl. Having an older sister that looked like a Barbie Doll and a younger sister who had the most impressive set of bosoms with complimenting clavicles, I had neither skinny or hot to fall back on per se. All I had was a flat chest and a pot belly. However, I did have a stunning wit, a keen intellect and cheeky confidence that can only come with being a complete smart arse most of the time.
Fast forward to almost forty and everything but nothing has changed at the same time.
Deep down inside me there is still that 12 year old girl who believes I’m fat, that I am still not good enough, worthy or lovable because I don’t quite fit the “mold”. I can still be fearful of rejection. I have grown up and realised that for all that I have achieved so far during my life here on earth, my weight is the set of social scales whereby society judges my worth as a woman. In fact that I can be guilty of judging myself by.
I have been judging myself in a way that is foreign to my inherent self, I’ve been using societal scales to measure my intrinsic immeasurable worth. I have been on this earth long enough now to innately know that I am so much more than a sum of all my physical parts, flabby or toned.
I am Fiona. I am life. I am light. I am strength. I am nurturer. I am courage. I am love. I am laughter. I am friend. I am sister. I am daughter. I am mother. I am wife. I am lover. I am wise. I am knowledge. I am curious. I am content. I am compassion. I am happy. I am energy. I am confident. I am dreamer. I am soul. I am truth.
I am so much more than my weight. It’s just that sometimes, I forget, I falter.
Beloved’s comment served as a reminder that I must never forget the value of my own inherent worth.
What do you forget about yourself that would make life so much easier if you could remember in times of critical self-doubt?
I would love to read your comments below.
Thanks for reading.