Thursday, November 14, 2013

This Body is a Metaphor: thoughts on weight loss and gender

I lost 15 pounds since I started a restrictive diet experiment six weeks ago. 20 pounds total since this spring. Even though I've been tweeting and speaking publicly about the effects this diet has had on my health overall I haven't talked about my change in weight. Partly because I don't want to be buried under a barrage of accolades.

I don't want to be congratulated on decreasing a number society has so inexplicably tied to my worth as a woman. Even when I tell people about the weight loss in private I make certain to include that the reason I've dropped weight is that the diet I've started for health reasons has me eating less.

I've been consuming an average of 1,500 calories per day. For my size and level of activity this is probably too little. I've also been spending more time alone which for me means a decrease in appetite.

But the thing I'm especially unlikely to talk about is the satisfaction I feel about losing weight, I can't deny that some part of me still buys into the less is better mentality. But the rise warm feeling I have about the small changes in my body is more than just a reflex of learned attractiveness.

I'm pleased because the only parts of me that I've noticed as discernibly smaller are my breasts and my thighs. I'm delighted that my belly has stayed decidedly paunchy. I enjoy having breasts but lately I've been fantasizing about having smaller breasts tighter to my chest. Breast that I could have at least some success at pressing into a straight line.

I've considered buying a binder for this purpose, but the tightest sports bra I own does a pretty good job already. And I worry that a binder wouldn't do any better and that bra. More importantly I worry a binder would kick up my acid reflux even worse than my sports bra does. The heartburn makes me sweat nervously. This makes the sports bra itch. I want to wear button-down and tie without having to disguise awkward lumps with patterns and loose fits.

I like my clothes to touch my body and show off the stability of my barrel chested square torso. I'm scared that if I keep losing weight my belly and waist are going to become more concave.

It's been a year or more since I stopped trying to define my waist. I still have a few fabulous belts for showing off my high waist. Which is sometimes want to put on but mostly not. But the desire exists.

I'm both afraid of and desiring the loss of my belly fat. If the fat stays I know I will enjoy its benefits of balancing out my torso. I will more easily look masculine. But I also know I will miss wearing pretty belts and lose out when the urge to do so strikes and they don't fit anymore.

It hurts me that perceptions of gender aren't flexible enough for my expressions to seem genuine. I didn't mean to write about my gender but writing about my weigh makes me worry that I am not trans or genderqueer enough and that I should just commit to expressing my masculinity exclusively.

But I still like being feminine and I'm angry to tears that the vast majority of people I meet & even know and love won't be able to see me as truth of the delicious fluctuating mix I am.

Changing my diet has changed the way I relate to my body. It's seemingly impossible to think about such changes without triggering thoughts about body gender, perception, and presentation.

The categories of recognition and representation society offers me is an array of compromises, each limiting and inaccurate. My body's given me one such compromise in the form of my digestive health. Finding ways to be both satisfied and nourished on this restrictive diet sometimes serves as a painful reminder of how my identity is impossible to balance and communicate is a way that nourishes me.

I know I can't ever fully know my body with all this stuff in it: food, fluids, the bacteria that is more numerous than even my own collection of cells.

I'm comprised of many things. I often wish I had more body more bodies than I just this one.
The experiences of trans people are often laughed off and oversimplified with a joking or oversimplistic reference to being “trapped in the wrong body”. It's not funny to me. It's actually peculiar to me that so many people are so settled with just the collection of cells that they've got. Have these people never been sick or felt the pressure of an insurmountable ache?

It's not urgent or acutely painful but I feel nostalgic for a body this is as changeable as my mind both consciousness and subconscious. Dysphoria isn't a joke. It only is peculiar, but I'd be willing to bet it's more common than I think humans allow ourselves to realize. It happens to children whose parents call them inside and tell them to stop being to be dinosaurs.

Writing about all this stuff makes me think about the literally transformative power of metaphors. The audacity of assigning identity or meaning to anything is just an illusion. One we can take back at any time we choose.

The task of communicating our being is an impossible and obsessive dive through language, projection, and prediction. Anything shared between humans is a metaphor and it's metaphors all the way down.

This body, these words, they're just a metaphor. I am who I am independent of the meanings I or anyone else decides to make up about them.

No comments:

Post a Comment