tw: eating disorder/body dysmorphia
In the poem “The Line” from Belly Songs: in Celebration of Fat Women by Susan Stinson, she writes “’if he pulls me, the sack will rip. / if he pulls and I don’t move, / the earth stops, too, / hung with us, solid, breathing, / me a weight, unfit / to slide on grocery sacks / to God and Love.’” (7). When I first read this poem, I had to take a break from the rest of the poems before rereading it and reflecting on my own similar childhood experiences. Although I was not fat as a child and was in fact underweight for most of my life, I related so much to this last stanza of the poem because of the internalization of this thought process about how other people perceive my body. grew up in a household where diet culture and body shaming were prevalent things, which has affected how I view my body for as long as I can remember. For as long as I can remember I have been afraid of my weight and how I am seen by others, often seeing myself far differently in the mirror than I am told that I look by others. Although I still struggle with my body dysmorphia as an adult, I had forgotten how vicious and anxious my thought processes as a child were – in games like the one Stinson is describing, I was terrified to be perceived by others, especially by the boys in my class (as I found they were often the most critical).
A lot of my body image issues have also been affected by my sexuality – before realizing I was a lesbian, I based a lot of my gender expression off of how men perceive me because I had seen so many women in my life do that. However, now that my life is not only influenced on my attraction to women but also my lack of attraction to men, I realize that a lot of my body issues had been tied into the ideas of the male gaze and very heteronormative thought processes. This in a way also relates to my alienation of womanhood because of this lack of relationship with men that defines what womanhood is to so many women. “The Line” has made me consider not only how early very harmful thought processes were instilled in my life but has also given me the space to feel able to explore the interconnectedness of my eating disorder and body dysmorphia with my identity as a queer person.