I feel like a fraud when I post my drawings of beautiful fat women, because I don’t feel that way about myself. I have hinted about those feelings in my artist statement when writing about seeing behind the surface, the difference between what the world sees and what is hidden inside, etc… but I haven’t really spoken about it personally. I’m going to try to do that. This is my first step.
I haven’t been honest. I draw naked fat women and give lip service to body positivity and fat acceptance, but I don’t feel it. And I’ve never publicly shared my own story or thoughts around it.
I mean, I see beauty in other people’s fat bodies, but I haven’t internalized it. I don’t see it in my own. I don’t feel it. I try to project an air of confidence that I have never felt.
I do believe it’s fine to be fat or skinny or tall or short or black or white and male or female or anywhere in between any of those descriptors. But I have always wanted to be thinner.
I’ve tried every possible way of losing weight. Dieting, exercising, therapy, medication, hypnosis, surgery, the list goes on… I’ve been jealous of people with eating disorders different from mine. I mean, if you’re going to have an eating disorder, you might as well have one that makes you thin, right?
And I used to say, well, I’m fat, but at least I’m healthy. I have always had low blood pressure, low cholesterol, been fairly flexible and had no trouble getting around. But now my body is betraying me. I’m heavier than I have ever been in my life and I’m about to turn 50. My blood pressure is on the upper end of the normal range, but can get a bit high when I am anxious or have exerted myself. It never used to do that. My cholesterol is a tiny bit high. My vision is declining at a quicker rate than it has before – a terrifying thought for an artist!
But the worst offenders are my feet. They’ve been hurting for a couple of years now and I thought I had achilles tendonitis. Which I do. But I finally saw a doctor (or two) about them and had x-rays and discovered that I have arthritis, achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, and plantar AND achilles calcaneal spurs.
I’ve never been very physically active at all, but since my feet have been hurting so much, I’ve avoided even fairly short walks that used to be quite simple. Which also means that my heart and lungs are suffering. I get out of breath doing such simple things that it’s embarrassing to admit.
A small disclaimer: when someone posts something like this, people’s first inclination is to offer solutions. I’m not asking for medical or diet advice. Intellectually, I know all the things. I’m just asking myself to speak and be willing to be heard.
I’ve always been one to say, as soon as I get to this magical place, then that will happen. As soon as I lose weight, I’ll be happy. As soon as I get all of this work done, I’ll have time to make art. You get the idea. ‘As soon as’ either never comes or doesn’t change anything when it does. This is the body I’m in right now. This is where my life is with my design work and my art. I might as well try to work with what I’ve got instead of waiting for one day.
That goes especially with acceptance of my body and trying to learn — if not to love it— at least not to hate it and blame it for everything. It’s time for me to practice what my drawings preach.