I want this blog to be positive.
It's just that from time to time it will be necessary for me to go off on a rant - because one of my many daily conundrums is living as a fat woman in a fat-hating society. So this category, "The Body Politic", will provide a space for these (angry) musings. If you can't handle a bit of rage and disappointment - please stop reading right now.
During the last few days I have been thinking about the various means that offer escape from our bodies. Reading, writing, painting - also watching endless movies - can serve as escape routes that are used by fat people to enter different realities in which identification is possible but not dependent on the experience of the body one possesses. Aaawww, this sounds terribly complicated.
I have been writing and making up stories as long as I can remember. My parents tell me that even before I was able to read I would open picture books and pretend to read the book to my little brother - I simply made up a story that went along with the pictures. And in pretending to read I told yet another story: of myself being already able to read.
I grew up in a family which is obsessed with books and the occasional newspaper or magazine. Even when my brother and I were little we used to go with my Mom to our local library, carrying the books that we wished to return in a laundry basket. Even though this meant that German and Literature and sometimes History were comparatively easy to deal with for me in school, it soon became apparent that literature provided another possibility: with the help of books I managed to withdraw from my body.
I spent the majority of my existence living in books and I continue to do so, because I still consider this one of the most enjoyable experiences that can be had in this life - getting lost in a good story. (This is why some television series are highly addictive for me.) I have practiced loosing myself for quite sometime now. As I am preparing to get sucked into a world of my own for the whole of November (for NaNoWriMo - making plans for the characters, considering various plot solutions) I have started to wonder about this wish to disappear into fiction, either by reading or by writing.
One of the most important reasons for me, as I grew up fat, was (obviously) the possibility of loosing myself. Or better yet, to re-brand myself. Writing fiction (and the fantasy genre is really the most effective for this) one can create a multitude of characters that are basically improved versions of oneself. I can give myself a better hairstyle, a desirable body, a much better social life - thinking back to the scribblings of my teenage years most of the stories were just that.
Being fat and thus being made to feel very undesirable fueled my search for new escape routes - VHS cassettes and later DVDs became incredibly important, and music started to become relevant even though I am really not what you would call musical, which I have often deeply regretted. But nothing worked as well as writing fiction, inventing a whole host of new friends (and enemies), worlds and plot lines.
The magic for me lies in how the many different facets of self are scattered through fiction. Reading through old manuscripts I discover endless references to real life situations and even in my fantasy fiction period lots of virtual reality mirrored actual reality - a lot of my protagonists had serious body issues (although they didn't tend to be fat - or if they were, this usually wasn't their particular problem).
Writing can be a lot more than providing the means to escape. Writing can be a useful tool to deal with real life issues and I am convinced that it helped me to start re-thinking my life, back in 2008. Fact is that I usually have one or three ideas on the go and this helps to keep my thoughts busy as well as experiencing the rapture of the actual writing process - which can be extremely frustrating, infuriatingly slow or even non-productive, but also very exciting and exquisite. I would go as far as calling it delicious, maybe you'll understand what I actually mean even though it is difficult to express. It is a bit like using words like spices, but instead of manipulating your taste buds you manipulate your own emotions. You can make yourself feel happy or sad, or wallow in wish fulfillment fantasies - there are so many possibilities!
Escape can turn into self care, into something that actually helps you to cope with the fat-hating society we are living in, by boosting your self-esteem (well, sometimes). But for me it is important to see the other side as well: escaping, hiding, trying to make oneself into a more lovable person to please others - I am still aware of my old reflexes even though I try to get every last bit of joy out of the experience.
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