And then there’s photos….

And then there's photos. If I tried to figure out what actually spurred me to make a change in my weight, four things probably come up:

  • Breaking up with Kevin: It made me feel oddly 'single', in a way I hadn't been in over a decade. Like I might be on 'the market' again. I still feel kind of weird about this reason -- there's that old sense of, "why would I want someone who only loves me when I'm thin?" But on the other hand, there's getting people's attention in the first place...once they love you, love you properly, that's when it really shouldn't matter.

  • Starting to think about going on the academic job market: I'd drifted into most jobs I'd had before -- they weren't jobs I'd gone in caring about. Whereas I can imagine, next year December, interviewing for jobs I really want (like maybe a tenure-track professorship at UIC, Kevin's school, which actually does offer a Ph.D. in Creative Writing, the kind of program I'd love to teach at eventually). Would looking beautiful give me an extra edge? Probably, human nature being what it is.

  • Realizing that size 14 fit better than size 12: This one was particularly scary because going up one more size would have meant switching to shopping in the "Women's" section, which is an euphemism for the fat women's section. Lane Bryant instead of Express. It felt like a major shift. These days, I'm pleased that size 10 often fits, with the occasional 12. 14's hang on me. Still aiming for 8, though.

  • And finally, not seeing a single photo of me that I thought looked good in several years.
Zak wrote:

"I'll verify that you looked better the last time I saw you than when I saw you that time up in LA with Lisette. Not night/day better, but you definitely look more like you. If that makes any sense. The pictures of you from your college days look more fundamentally like you to me, somehow. Even though I didn't know you then, they're just a clearer expression of who you seem to be."

In college, most pictures of me looked fine. Good, even. As the years went on, fewer and fewer did. Last year, it seemed like a friend could take a hundred photos of me and not get a single attractive one. That was very bad. I could still look in a mirror and think I looked fine -- but it seemed I must be doing some mental editing then, if the camera photos didn't come out that way. It drove me bonkers. When Jason and I went to the cemetery last week, I took about seventy-five pictures of him, of which twenty-five or so came out well. He took about ten photos of me, of which one came out well. I can live with that ratio, though obviously a third is nicer than a tenth.

When I look at the photos from last year (which I mostly don't), I feel like the me I imagine myself to be was being buried in that extra flesh. Gross. It's such a tricky thing, though, because I've read stories from anorexic and bulimic girls who say exactly the same thing, even though they're stick-thin. It's remarkable how difficult it is to have a sane perspective on all this.

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