A love affair with gravity.

for K.

Since I started doing this crazy accept-my-body thing eleven years ago, there has been a series of ups and downs with my own body image. I go through good times, I go through bad times. Sometimes really, really bad times. Over the years, the good times get longer and the bad times get shorter.

What doesn’t change, though, is the amount of pressure on me — on all of us — to look a certain way. To be feminine, to be light-skinned, to have smooth hair, to fit into straight-sized clothes.

As you get fatter, gravity doesn’t get weaker or kinder. It stays the same. Your body is more subject to it, in fact, because apparently the earth is a fat admirer, and wants to keep you as close as possible. As this happens, as the scale creeps up to numbers a previous version of you would have fainted at, you have two choices: to attempt to loosen the bonds of gravity, and Earth’s apparent amorousness, by making yourself smaller — or to use gravity to your advantage, to get stronger, strong enough to carry your weight happily through the world.

History has taught me that I’m not very good at getting smaller, but that my strength? It is awesome. And it can grow.

As one gets bigger, or even just as one becomes more aware of the sickness of the body-obsessed culture, the pressure increases. It drags on you, eventually to the ground, the point of crisis, the valley of decision.

Do I lay here and starve until I am light enough that gravity rescinds its uncomfortable obsession? Then get up and walk fearfully away, knowing I am weakened against the next time it drags me down? Or do I allow myself to rest briefly, then begin to move any muscle I can feel: an arm, a leg, an eyelid — working continually against the pressure, until I’m strong enough to stand the fuck up, under my own power, and walk toward the things I want?

The things the world says it won’t give to me unless I am white, thin, and wearing makeup? The things that I am now strong enough to take for myself, any way I want them?

Each time I’m dragged down, I’m stronger and quicker at pulling myself to my feet.

Gravity doesn’t go away. I get better at remaining upright.

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27 Comments

  1. Posted July 22, 2011 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    You are such an inspiration. Thank you :)

  2. Posted July 22, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    You remind me of a scene from the movie Ferngully: the Last Rainforest. Robin Williams as Batty Koda is in a tree. He suddenly swings to hang upside down and he says – “Gravity works.”
    The only part of being fat that bothers me is the feeling of inertia I get from gravity pulling my various parts down into the nearest chair.
    But that’s much less bothersome than being part of the mislabeled ‘fitness revolution.’

    • Posted July 22, 2011 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

      Hahaha, somehow Ferngully is the last movie I would have expected to be referenced in comments.

  3. Posted July 23, 2011 at 2:46 am | Permalink

    Good advice for non-lightweights of every size.

  4. tree
    Posted July 23, 2011 at 3:05 am | Permalink

    this is a gorgeous, gorgeous post. and i particularly love the phrase Earth’s apparent amorousness.

  5. KJAY
    Posted July 25, 2011 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    Wonderful post! Bravo!!

  6. KellyK
    Posted July 25, 2011 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    I really like this. Thank you. Having just seen Wicked, it really reminds me of the “Defying Gravity” song from that musical.

    Something has changed within me
    Something is not the same
    I’m through with playing by the rules
    Of someone else’s game
    Too late for second-guessing
    Too late to go back to sleep
    It’s time to trust my instincts
    Close my eyes: and leap!

    It’s time to try
    Defying gravity
    I think I’ll try
    Defying gravity
    And you can’t pull me down!

  7. Elizabeth
    Posted July 25, 2011 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

    Love this post, love your blog. Since I’ve followed your stuff, you have changed the way I think about my body and my life. Thank you for helping to set me free!

  8. Melissa
    Posted July 26, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful.

  9. Julia
    Posted July 26, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    Yes! I have greater strength capacity at 250 lbs. than I did at 150 lbs. I am solid. I can stand in tree pose in yoga (I never could before). I can dance, I can float, I can race on a bike or on my feet, and I can stand so firm that you can’t push me down.

  10. Michellers
    Posted July 26, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    Gorgeous, thank you!

  11. DessertFirst
    Posted July 27, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    I keep reading the title of this post as “A Love Affair with Gravy” — and I don’t even like gravy all that much . . . :)

    • Posted July 27, 2011 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

      Me neither, but I would still consider having a love affair with it just because that sounds GREAT.

      • DessertFirst
        Posted July 27, 2011 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

        LOL — Actually, now that I think about it, I’ve probably got gravy on my mind because it seems that all I keep hearing about lately in the news (I live north of Toronto, Ontario) is how Rob Ford, the mayor of Toronto, wants to “stop the gravy train”/find the “gravy” in city services, etc. (Unfortunately, Ford apparently considers things like libraries, snow clearing, public health nurses, etc., to be gravy.)

        • Posted July 28, 2011 at 7:46 am | Permalink

          I live in Toronto, and I think we should cover Rob Ford in gravy.

          • Posted July 28, 2011 at 9:34 am | Permalink

            Security just confiscated a bucket of gravy from someone at city hall.

          • Posted July 28, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

            Was it Margaret Atwood?

          • DessertFirst
            Posted July 28, 2011 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

            LOL!

  12. Julie
    Posted July 28, 2011 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    This isn’t a post, this is poetry… thank you

  13. Posted July 28, 2011 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    Oh, I like that. I like that a lot!

    • Posted July 29, 2011 at 9:10 am | Permalink

      Chris, I am sorry I haven’t yet gotten around to shouting your name from the hilltops — EVERYONE, you should go and read Chris’ website now. Immediately. It’s about exercise, but from an intrinsic (and size-friendly) perspective.

      • KellyK
        Posted July 29, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

        Thank you! I’m devouring (heh) Chris’s blog entries right now and looking forward to some form of exercise (either dancing in my living room or a long walk with the crazy dog) when I get home. Probably the first, because it’s hot out, and the puppy doesn’t seem to enjoy 100 degree days any more than I do.

        • Posted July 30, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

          I totally just ordered a snorkel and fin set for myself. When I was a kid/teenager, snorkeling was like the greatest pastime EVER. Living in the city, and not having been camping for a long time, I haven’t had the chance to do it for years. As soon as this stupid case of swimmer’s ear clears up, I will be finding out what lurks beneath the surface of Lake Ontario.

      • Posted July 29, 2011 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

        Oh, thanks Michelle! And Kelly!

  14. Barb
    Posted September 14, 2011 at 12:53 am | Permalink

    I’ve stumbled into your blog from a magazine article and this is the first post I’ve read.. Already it has me in tears. The prospect of someone understanding this eternal, gruelling battle between my mind and my 95kg body; the feeling that I am not alone; the chance that I can and will break free from expectation. Thank you.

    • Posted September 14, 2011 at 8:59 am | Permalink

      Aww, I’m so glad you found us! Thank you.

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