Skinny Bitches

I hate 'em.*  Always able to wear whatever they want without having to worry about showing their knees.  Going through life oblivious to the shame of not being able to fit into their jeans.  Slender, powerful, desirable, loved.  Never having to worry about what they eat because somehow their bodies simply don't accumulate excess fat.  Flashing their legs as they stride past you in their skinny boots, skinny dresses, skin-tight jeans.  Or, worse, slinking past in their flowing skirts which they wear simply because they enjoy the sensation of fabric moving over their legs, not because they are trying to hide anything, like, say, their knees.

Did I say I hate 'em?  All my life, they've been there, in their seventies peasant blouses, in their eighties business suits, in their nineties mini-skirts: mocking me with their knees, their waistlines, their ability to wear shorts without shame.  Every so often, I managed to catch up with them momentarily, but I always knew I was a fraud.  That one day soon the fat would come back and the short shorts and spaghetti-strap dresses would end up back in the closet, gently aging out of fashion as I struggled to find a pair of pants that fit.  I wanted to be one of them, join their club, be one of the girls who could dress up for a party confident that she would look good if she just put some effort into it.  (As opposed to looking ridiculous for trying because what was the point, anyway, if I couldn't show my knees?)   I imagined what it would be like to be slim, how liberating it would feel not to have to hide.

And now if it turns out (if my first two weeks of the Lenten carb fast are any indication) that it was simply because I was eating too much sugar and starch that my thighs were not like their thighs, that my knees were fat?  I've written already about how angry it makes me to think that, like Dorothy, I could have gone home anytime I wanted if only I had known how to use the ruby slippers.  But now that I have them on my feet...I'm scared.  I'm not sure I want to be one of Them.  A skinny bitch.  Someone who doesn't have to worry about her weight because she knows how to manage it so that she stays slim.  Now that it looks like it may be possible--given sufficient time and few enough carbs--consciously to lose the accumulated fat, oddly, but perhaps, indeed, predictably, I'm not sure I want to go there.  Do I?

"Of course," you say.  "We're tired of hearing you bitch about how much you hate being fat.  Just do it, it's what you've always said you wanted, lose the carbs, lose the weight and get on with your life!"  I look in the mirror now and I still have fat knees.  Truth to tell, even at my skinniest, I thought that I had fat knees, so maybe slender knees aren't in the cards for me to begin with.  (I have rather large knuckles, like my dad's.  Big joints seem to run in the family.)   But...what if they were (in the cards, that is)?  What if I could be a skinny bitch, too?  No longer hiding behind the carbs and the weight, but simply living the way I've always dreamed I would if I were thin.  Truth to tell, I can't think of anything quite so terrifying.  Who would I be?!

Who would I be if I weren't struggling with my weight?  Who would I be if I were one of those women whom I envy as I am walking to campus with my dog?  I saw one today, just crossing the street.  She had slender knees (can you tell I have a thing about knees?) and was wearing skinny pants and a comfortable leather (or maybe suede) jacket.  She looked purposeful and strong, giving me and the Dragon Baby nary a glance as she strode onto the important things that she had to do in her life.  I saw another one as I was coming home.  She was wearing a snug skirt and some kind of heels.  I know she was a bitch because she didn't look like anything could ruffle her.  Maybe she was a business woman, maybe just a full professor already at age 35.  It was hard to tell.  Skinny bitches always look like they have made it before they turn 30; it's probably why all the skinny bitches portraying professional women on television are so slim.  They don't sit around worrying about how fat their knees look in business skirts; they have lives to get on with and people to impress.  Which they can.  Because, of course, they're slim.

Am I really this shallow?  Are you kidding me?  Of course I am!  Who isn't?  Who hasn't watched two women walk into a room, one skinny, one not, and instantly preferred the skinny one?  Okay, maybe not you.  Or you.  Or you.  But, I confess, I have judged.  According to one of those psych tests that is supposed to detect prejudice, fatness is the only thing about which I am not as neutral as my liberal self would like to believe.  Sex, age, race, I'm fine.  But fatness at least used to be (before my big awakening last summer) a real hurdle for me.  And now that I've spent the past six months rearranging my head so as not to care so much about fat (which, honestly, I don't--it's quite wonderful, really), you tell me it's possible that I might be thin?  No, I'm not going there.  I'm not giving up the solidarity with all those women who have been my comrades in fat, the ones whom I could feel comfortable with because I wasn't spending all my time being jealous of their knees. 

But here I sit, the pounds melting away.  I still haven't weighed myself, but I have succumbed to the tape measure: an inch off my waist in just the past week.  And my jeans fit again (still my "fat" ones, but still).  What if this works?  Who am I going to be if I am not one of the ones who isn't a skinny bitch?

I am really not sure whether I am ready for this.

*No, not you.  Or you.  Or you.  I'm not talking about any of my friends, students, colleagues, or relations here.  Just all those women whom I don't know whom I pass on the street.  You know, you hate 'em, too.

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