Sunday, April 20
I picked up “Good in Bed” at the library’s book sale on Friday because it looked like light reading – chick lit – where the main character was plus-size and still found love. I finished it late last night because I couldn’t put it down. Jennifer Weiner writes with wit, compassion, and an understanding of what plus-size women think and feel as they attempt life in a fat-hostile world. Many of the scenes/settings in the story are near and dear to Weiner’s heart, so is able to imbue them with a sense of realism rarely found elsewhere. The story is poignant and addresses significant issues without sounding preachy.
One drawback, though. (I know I had at least one other, but I don’t remember it!)
Cannie (short for Candace), the main character, has real issues with her weight. However, she wears a size 16, and at a university hospital-run weightloss drug study, she says she needs to lose 40 pounds. Cannie also goes on frequent long rides on her bicycle, walks her dog daily, and doesn’t bat an eye at walking eight to 20 blocks (and Philadelphia’s blocks, where the story is set, are not small!). She never complains about her feet hurting or feeling sweaty afterward.
If I was in that kind of physical shape, I’d feel like I could take on the world. I suppose that compared to all of the size 0’s, 2’s, and 4’s in the world, 16 would feel massive, but someone who is that athletic and in such good shape should be proud, not have body issues.
But I suppose that’s part of Weiner’s point. Cannie is surrounded by friends who love her and encourage her, but the voices in her head drown them out. Cannie’s now-absent father frequently told her she was fat and unattractive before he left their family. She never thought she was good enough or thin enough for him to love, and she carries that into her relationships with men.
I can relate, though. Until I went to college, I never thought I was beautiful enough or thin enough to be loved. I didn’t have my father’s love, but that’s not so important to me since he was never really present in my life. It’s my relationship with my mother that can be painful at times; most of the negative comments about my body have come from her, with a healthy dose thrown in by my peers.
It took awhile, but at college, I decided to relax, let my hair down, and be myself. I figured that I would be myself, creating a safe environment for others to be themselves. While I didn’t have many friends, I had a handful of close friends, many of them men. Oh, I still struggled with my weight and my self-image, and I still had painful evenings of loneliness, but I had friends who loved me and appreciated me.
Meeting Jonathan has been wonderful. He loves me no matter what I look like (and sometimes, especially in the mornings, it’s pretty freaky!) and has encouraged me to love myself. I still struggle with my size, but I’ve made a few changes to the way I eat and move that make me feel better. I’ll never be thin, and I don’t really want to be thin. I’d like to lose some weight so I’m down to at least 300 when we try to get pregnant, but I’m not going to stress about it.
I’ve been reading some Fat Acceptance blogs in the past few weeks, and it’s been refreshing to hear that I’m not the only person who’s ever struggled with society’s ideals of beauty and our lack of conforming to them. It’s been eye-opening to read fat women’s stories of body acceptance and body love. It’s good to know I’m not alone.