As someone relatively petite, I always felt that I had zero room to complain about judgements people threw on my physicality. I felt the competition to prove my petiteness to only be applicable where it was most desirable, (my waist, my arms, my ankles) and to dually improve the fat in areas where I was ethnically expected to have them, (my ass, my chest, my thighs.)
For most of my life I have lived with a disrespectful and disappointed view of my body. I told myself that I was too flat where it mattered and too soft where it didn’t. I’d constantly look in the mirror and eyeball with disdain the consistent measurements of my hips and waist, attempting to force them into an hourglass shape because dammit what Latinx woman who gets laid looks like this?.
All the while knowing that if I voiced any of these criticisms to others, I would be met with belittlement as being already “cute enough,” or met with validation from male acquaintances who suggested this or that exercise or diet to make me more suitable for their gaze.
I dealt with it all while hearing family members boast about their expanding sizes equating to womanhood, happiness, and sex appeal. I heard them equate manhood with someone who prefers a woman of size that ran against the status quo. I heard them shame the flat-assed, flat chested girls that looked like me as childish, with vindictive jealous threats to the models on view in any mall window. I learned that I could not complain and that I would never attain the shape I wanted most. I also learned that I could not share this thought either, as diet culture and brawny folx would tell me that genetics didn’t dictate shape and that with just the right level of food restriction, strict workout regimes, and invested time, I could look just how I wanted.
All the while, I grew more and more resentment not just toward myself, but toward these others who forced their views, preferences, and lifestyles on me. And so I adopted what I could and left out what I couldn’t. I went through waves of self harming in both violent and subtle forms, hating the vessel that I was lent for this life.
All while hearing the general culture praise such subtler forms of self-harming like restriction and self-regulation in the realms of extreme diet and exercise. All while hearing praise for dedication and determination and shame for anyone content with who they already were. They deemed this self-love and contentedness ‘lazy’ ‘unhealthy’ and ‘not ambitious.’
Once I did have a (mentally) healthy relationship with food and exercise, and was utilizing both for the sake of my holistic stability; my progress was robbed from me through the car accident, sending my body back into survival, starvation, weakness, and rage.
Trying to regain that sense of self-love and love for activities that release my endorphins has been one of the hardest parts of this journey. And it’s one I’m still taking, now with the additional pressure of idealized queer representation/flagging, and navigating that as someone with the privilege of already being in the physique of a stereotypically “androgynous” person. Navigating not only a male gaze but an almost equally demeaning and labeling and boxing queer gaze that wishes me to be easily definable and readable through both size and style and body language.
It’s a fucking task and a fucking journey. And coupled with physical/sexual trauma, it is one that never ends. Facing the diet culture of the U.S. while facing your own inner turmoil and shame is a double whammy that most of us will struggle with longer than we would be proud to admit.
But we are out here, making our way day by day through a society that passes anxiety onto us over every.single.bite. and every.single.move.
And we out here looking damn good doing it because we are all magical fucking bags of flesh, regardless of our shapes or sizes. So get off our (varying amounts of) back (fat.)