I am my weight.
My bust size.
The number of calories I consume.
I am how many times a week I eat ice cream. I am how often I fail. I am how many times I’ve had to say I’m sorry because I’ve said something thoughtless or cruel. I’m the number of stories I’ve published and the number of books I have not. I am the number of classes I am away from a real degree. I am how much money I have in the bank and how much – too much – I spend on frivolous things.
You are none of those things. You are you, whole and complete, you don’t have holes inside of yourself where other people used to live. Your numbers don’t matter to me – you are curves and skin and beautiful inside and out and who cares if you are twenty years younger than me or ten years older. I’ve ceased counting the silver and grey hairs on my head because the number is too high, yours I don’t even notice.
Our affection, our love, our attraction and our friendship – at least from my end – don’t hinge on numbers.
I fully expect yours to. Because I am a number.
Whence does this dysmorphia come from?
A lot of it is fear. Fear as I grow older that I become less and less relevant, as a woman, as a human. My sex appeal falls away and I am no longer desirable – and damn it, I want to be desirable. But more than that, we are no longer seen as viable as we reach a certain age.
And then there is the fucking scale. I watch it with an intensity one should only reserve for watching a tennis ball crack back and forth across the net, never letting it out of my sight. I gained my pandemic 15…and then another 5. And now I am slowly clawing my way back to a number that feels acceptable to me – even though I know it will never be enough. There is no acceptable number to be when you are a number. When your whole sense of self worth lies in that little machine to tell you who you are. There is not enough movement, there are not enough exercises, there is no amount that I could starve myself to make that number acceptable. So, many times I just don’t try.
And then I do my weight training. Not to be a number, but because it feels good. Because at the end I don’t feel like a number, I feel powerful. And I take my run, not because it makes my number smaller, but because I feel lighter in other ways, I feel like I can soar, I can fly. And I do my yoga not because it will make these old joints twist and flex as they did twenty years ago, but because it opens my heart and grounds me in the here and now.
A here and now I am not just a number. I am a whole being.