Sometimes I like to be dramatic and say that puberty ruined my whole life. After the initial toddler catepillar period, I was a lean and mean sort of kid. I escaped chocolate when I became allergic at eight and spent the time away from TV and books with a basketball or a bike.
Puberty and its accompanying annoyances threw the body for a loop and it made me into a reactionary. I hated the attention that a budding body brought me. I resisted the bra push from my mother and stuck to undershirts as long as I could. When men noticed the curves and started commenting, I sought refuge in baggy clothes and dark colors. That was also when I started wearing hats. I wanted to blend into the woodwork. I enjoyed the confusion/curiosity on people's faces when I came along with my hat pulled down low to my eyes, giant army jacket, jeans two sizes too big and layers of shirts. Was I a boy or a girl? I wasn't sure myself. I would wear a skirt once or twice a year and spend most of it hiding. But as junior and senior years rolled around, we had our class formal dances and I broke out forcefully at both with such overwhelmingly girly dresses that I shocked everyone. "You're so pretty. Why do you wear all those clothes?" Because I could, more or less. The irony of a hardcore tomboy wearing a floor length pastel pink ballerina prom dress with pink heels was delicious. A fitting end to six years at a place where no matter how much you changed, you were that ___ kid from 7-X.
I'm never going to be stereotypically thin. I'm just not built for it. I've accepted that fact. The least I've weighed since I started curving out was 133lbs in the summer before freshman year, when I wore a size 8 and had bones sharp enough to cut glass -- not to mention skeletor face -- with muscles and a booty. Just before senior year, I was flouncing around wearing a 8/10 and hovering around 164. I was complaining about my chicken legs and flat chest, but I enjoyed having finally shaken the remnants of my tomboy reactionism and embraced color. For my annual visit, the doctor clucked at my weight number and suggested I lose a few pounds to get on track with my BMI. I looked at her like she was insane. I was still bones with muscles and a booty. It wasn't possible to be any thinner without starving myself to death. I turned my back on scales and have been trying to ignore the numbers thrown out at during the physicals ever since.
Ms. Mommy (always good for words of encouragement) enjoyed warning me through the years to enjoy my metabolism while I could because after teens, it was all downhill. She's thrown out there that 25 is when your body gives up and goes to shit. I have no idea what I weigh now, but I spend a lot of time thinking about it. I guess I've gained about 20lbs or so in the past two years. Besides my mom lecturing gleefully that I have bad genes and it's not a good sign that our weights changes are inverses of each other, shopping is becoming increasingly frustrating. I am the average sized woman -- height and clothing wise -- but I might as well be a freak in the average store. Some days I look in the mirror with a mental red pen marking up the problem spots. The upcoming trip to the WMC is scaring me shitless because I've never felt less prepared to throw on a bathing suit.
Mostly, I just feel angry. I'm not fat in any sense of the word. In my office, I'm one of the tallest women at 5'5" and the fattest because unlike most of them, I'd be hardpressed to shop in the kids' section. The first couple of months, I looked at them and me and immediately thought I needed to go to the gym so I wouldn't stand out as much. That worked for a while but I just got tired of restricting myself to follow the status quo of the people I most hate anyways. What I has been bothering most is the attention. I've never been so openly ogled in my whole life as I've been in the past two months. The street peanut gallery has been in rare form. I've been whistled at, catcalled, yelled at, followed, pawed, and menaced because somehow they feel that I'm not a real person and just a walking Black Tail pinup. The disrespect pisses me off and I'd be too happy to Mace someone if I got the chance. Not so long ago, I was with this guy chatting about first impressions and he felt the need to add that he liked that I was stacked. What's next -- someone saying I'm built like a brick shit house? I'll admit I'm overly sensitive about things like that, but it's a dance I've been through too many times. It's always the guys you least expect that will unconsciously reveal that you're playing the role of Black Fantasy and they just want to get you naked to see if you're really different from all the other girls. (What came first: the visual images or the physical episodes of black female sexual exploitation? Are so-called "video vixens" the Venus Hottentots of the 00s? Then again, I'm just a negative cynic, so YMMV.)
But really, fuck it. I'm happy with my body despite the complaints. I'd rather look like a woman with distinguishable curves than androgynous like I did when I was 11. Especially since I'm just not built anymore to ever look like that again. And old saying is that a time comes in a woman's life when she has to choose between her ass and her face. I choose both with a slice of cheesecake...and a burger.