You know, I've never, ever thought of myself as a “little” person. It's true that I'm not terribly tall at 5' 3”, but my build has always been—shall we say—stocky. In my hometown, the “attractive” girls were either zaftig or willowy, neither of which has ever described me—I was always somewhere in the middle. I spent years on the diet wagon, fighting to maintain a certain weight (mostly based on my mother's urgings and society's standards; that weight was about 10 pounds less than I weigh now, give or take five or six) and miserable about myself. I was constantly receiving mixed signals from my mother: “You need to lose weight. You need to clean your plate. You're a little heavy, dear. Here, have some more pancakes.” You know the type. Fans of the TV show Absolutely Fabulous might remember one of the “flashback” episodes of Eddie and Pats in school. Patsy has come over and Eddie's mother feeds her a huge plate of food, saying, “You don't want to be a skinny balliny long legs, big banana feet,” and then hands Eddie some oatmeal or something and says, “Or a roly poly pudding that no one wants to meet.” This is just so typical of how women are taught in our society. We are never okay the way we are, we always need to change something. And it's a bunch of bullshit.
What brought this on? This morning I went for CT scans of my pelvis, abdomen and chest to check on how well the chemotherapy is working, to see if the tumors infesting my abdomen—intestines and uterus and ovaries and liver—have been affected at all, slowed down, shrunken. And to see if any have made their way into my chest. I'd had a rough week between one thing and another. Colon cancer causes one to walk a fine line with their digestive system, trying to maintain a balance, and I was out of balance most of the week. One medication will cause this side effect, another will cause the opposite and you pray that they will just cancel each other out, but of course it never works that way. I was nauseated when I tried to eat because things weren't moving through the way they should, and just generally miserable, and I lost in the vicinity of eight of my carefully regained pounds. Today, for the first time in almost a week, I was actually hungry. So, after the scans, we stopped off at IHOP. I ordered a bacon and cheese omelet with sourdough toast and ate about half of it. Those omelets are big, and my stomach was shrunk, but I thought I did fairly well eating that much, and I know I felt a lot better for the nutrition. As the server cleared the dishes and brought me a box, she said, “It's a lot of food for a little person, isn't it?”
A little person. Me. I'm now a little person, because due to the problems I've faced between the original blockage and now the chemotherapy side effects, I've lost a lot of weight and am actually almost down to what society thinks I should weigh (which means I think I'm dangerously close to too thin). In the past year, give or take, I've lost 50 pounds, mostly since September. I am continually complimented on how great I look, how pretty I am (even with a shaved head). And it worries me.
Don't misunderstand me: it is definitely nice to receive the compliments. However, not everyone who comments knows why I'm suddenly so much thinner. Will they think I'm actually concerned about that sort of thing? Will they think they need to lose weight to fit into societal standards? I hope not. Because let's be honest: fashion designers are designing clothes that would look good on a willowy boy's body. And then trying to force women to look like that. That's not how we're supposed to look, my friends. We are the bearers of the future of the Earth in our broad hips. We nurture the ongoing growth through our bountiful breasts, and we bring forth new life from our wombs (sometimes literally, sometimes figuratively), and we should never, ever be ashamed or unhappy about how we look, whether it is because we think we need to “just lose five more pounds” or just gain a couple pounds” or “just have my breasts increased by one cup size”...
Well, of course, even if I hadn't already decided to not have children long ago, it would be impossible now. Once the tumors are shrunken enough for a surgery, my uterus and at least one ovary are coming out. But you catch the gist of it, right? Women are life and bounty, but we're being forced to try to make ourselves disappear. Don't stand for it. Take up that space! Spread out, be comfortable. And know that you are beautiful.
So, that's where my head has been all day, thinking these sorts of thoughts while I go through my e-mails and follow along to see what my friends are up to. Happily, most of the women I know are comfortable with themselves (which is probably why we're friends) and don't worry overly much about society and its standards. So, let's all go out and try to infect at least one girl each with our "bad attitudes," shall we?