(Let me preface by saying I recognize that ideals of beauty are hugely individual and vary significantly between cultures and points in history. Cool? Cool.)
Today I donated two pairs of shorts to my local Salvation Army. I donated the shorts because they are too big. Often, donating clothes because they’re too big for you is considered a good thing. It might signify weight loss and a healthier “you.” In my case, it was a benign but slightly depressing personal admission. Admitting the 10 pounds that mysteriously dropped off me around January are not in any rush to glom back on my body.
I was a skinny kid. In the second grade my parents put me on a regimen of supplemental meal shakes because my doctor was worried about me being too small. I stayed a skinny teen and bloomed into a skinny young adult. In college my freshman 15 translated into the freshman five. I went from 110 to a comfortable 115, give or take a pound. So last January when I weighed myself on the scale at my parents and saw that I had dropped 12 pounds, it was no bueno. To summarize my subsequent medical visits, the doctor is as confused as I am. No new life stress, no change in eating, no crazy uptick in exercise. Besides the missing 10 pounds I’m healthy. Healthy is what counts so, whatever. The doctor did however suggest I eat more cake. I am not kidding.
You wouldn’t think losing ten pounds would be a problem. Usually this is something people are trying for rather than lamenting. But for me, it is unfamiliar territory. And since it seems people are usually bitching about the opposite problem I hesitate to mention it, even to friends. I notice it in small ways, like realizing some of the clothes I wore last summer don’t fit and maybe won’t fit for who knows how long. I have a positive body image, I like my body, and I’ve never wanted to change it. Call me a body image unicorn. Yet since those 10 pounds went missing, I’ve felt scrawny and self-conscious.
I realize that this is a pissy, unimportant issue in the grand scheme of life. But, I really wish those shorts would just fit.
(written August 2013)
There are many ways to define white privilege. One way I often sum it up is that— I can choose whether I want to actively contend with the implications of my racial identity or not. On a daily basis I can choose to think about the impact of my white identity or I can choose to ignore it. For me, privilege means being able to choose.