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Warning: I’m writing this at half past three in the morning. Things are going to be muddled. I intend to talk about body image and dysmorphia (which means there might be some internalized fatphobia in there) and perhaps also my friend who committed suicide (so TW for that too).

 

I went on a bit of a trip, saw lots of people in very little time, including my mum (that’s always a thought-provoking visit), and then came home and spent the festive period home alone. Maybe that’s why I’m a bit tangled.

I’ve got my next political battle all cued up and ready to go. My next crusade, as it were. I seem to always have one of those on the go. They’re usually feminism related, but one step removed from me. The last one was about sex workers’ rights. This coming one is about the inclusion of trans women in women-only spaces. I am cis and not a sex worker. These battles are not mine. Perhaps I shouldn’t take them on at all. But I do. Because I care, and because I can.

I care a lot about fat-acceptance and body positivity as parts of the feminist movement, but they’re too close to the bone for me to work in. Too raw, too real.

A weight loss advert came through my letterbox this weekend and I guess my thoughts about myself have been in a tailspin since then.

I bought a size 12 pair of jeans yesterday and they fit. I know this empirically to be the smallest I’ve ever been as an adult. I honestly can’t see it in the mirror. I look and I see the same thing as I did when I was two stone and 3 dress sizes bigger. I spoke about this to my mum when I was at her house. She has the same problem. We are invisible to ourselves. She also congratulated me on my weight loss and maintaining this year. It occurred to me that I am good at losing weight. Maintaining is much harder, but I’ve done okay at that too.

Losing weight is a sad thing to be good at.

I’m the slimmest I’ve ever been in adulthood and my hair has finally recovered from me chopping away at it with kitchen scissors last year. I have better clothes than I used to (although a lot of them are still too big/out of fashion/full of holes). Logically, this is probably the best I’ve ever looked. It must be. And yet…

I feel really disgusted at the way I look. I feel undesirable and that makes me feel very very sad.

I’ve had three conversations about societal beauty standards in the past couple of weeks. All with reasonably attractive male friends. All pretty interesting. All talked a lot of sense and if it didn’t feel such a personal topic I’d probably even agree with them, but I can’t. I feel like, as well meaning and bright and sensitive as they are, they don’t get it. They’re pretty romantically successful (each in his own way) and they’re men. Men get to make up for any shortfall in looks by being intelligent/funny/brilliant. Women only get points for those things once they’re already considered pretty. And I’m not. And I never will be.

The amount of effort I’d have to put in to look even ‘normal’ is unreal. Lose another 2 stone, learn how to dress, depilate, do make up, hair… And after all that I wouldn’t even look nice. I just wouldn’t look weird. I don’t have the resources to even crawl from a 2/10 to a 4. And even if I got there. A 4 doesn’t seem worth the effort.

Being alone so much the last few days has meant I’ve watched far more television than I usually do. Rewatched My Mad Fat Diary, which stirred up feelings about being unlovable because fat. And I’ve seen Gok’s Teens, which keeps stirring me up. I was a teen not so long ago. I still feel like one. I know what it’s like to be fat, bullied, weird. The poor, tortured kids on that programme, and Gok Wan’s compassion for them, make me want to cry. And reminded me of the letter that I wrote my friend, the one who took her own life a few weeks ago.

This summer we went to a festival together, and in a happy, weed induced haze she opened up to me and told me about how great it felt to have take her power back from an abusive ex girlfriend. I wrote her a letter in which I shared my story about surviving after being bent out of shape by an awful friend. It ended something like this (I don’t remember – they found the letter in a box safe under her bed when they were clearing her flat out but I didn’t want it back): “in the end though, we win.”

But she didn’t. The world was really awful her and she didn’t survive. I hadn’t cried for her in a few weeks. I put my headphones on and played the songs from her funeral at top volume and sat on the floor and fucking wept for her.

This year has been so full of big things, I feel despicable for even caring how I look. But for some reason right now I really do. And all my usual tactics for distracting myself are failing me. I lie in bed and look at my hands. I can’t imagine anyone wanting to be touched by them.

I’m 21, I tell myself. Other people who are “unconventionally attractive” get laid. There’s time. There’ll be someone.

And then I see my face, or my legs, or belly. And I think, no, there won’t.

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