Say hello to our third guest poster Lyz Pfister. Lyz brings up some great ideas about how we reinforce our own body image — it is one thing to be influenced by the culture around us, and another very different thing to turn that self doubt into something empowering.
I am an eater. At the moment, I’m eating fresh toasted baguette with butter and sardines. I’m thinking about the way sardines melt into warm bread and the contrast of sweet butter and salty fish, the chew of good baguette. Incidentally, I’m also having a “fat day” and thinking about the carbs slinking their way down to my hips.
Before I made my snack, I stood in front of the mirror and stretched my t-shirt tight across my stomach. I grimaced as each half twist presented an equally unflattering view of too-wide hips, a too-short torso, importunately placed love handles, and a bloated belly. Then I ate my baguette with butter and sardines anyway.
When I start to think negatively about my body, I recall a scene in Pulp Fiction between Butch and his girlfriend, Fabienne. They’re on the run, quartered in some seedy motel room, stretched out on a bed and exchanging relatively relaxed lover’s banter, considering:
Fabienne: On a woman, a pot belly is very sexy. The rest of you is normal. Normal face, normal legs, normal hips, normal ass, but with a big, perfectly round pot belly. If I had one, I’d wear a t-shirt two sizes too small to accentuate it.
Butch: You think guys would find that attractive?
Fabienne: I don’t give a damn what men find attractive. It’s unfortunate what we find pleasing to the touch and pleasing to the eye is seldom the same.
I go back to the mirror and look at my own belly. Run my hands along my hips, my thighs. The roundness is pleasing to the touch; the beauty of a real-life Rubens. And I realize that each curve is the result of some delightful meal, a memory, none of which I’d give up.
To be an eater, a lover of good food, is to love your body. If food is eaten with guilt, the guilt is like a poisonous spice that turns a delicious pasta with eggplants and tomatoes and basil and lots of olive oil into pasta with eggplant and guilt – which is infinitely less good.
Of course, there are more reasons I love my body than that each roll represents the whipped cream on a particularly good slice of apple pie (my grandma used to say that…). And to say that to feel good about your body is as simple as getting rid of guilt at eating too much pork belly (yes, I am guilty) is a bit naïve.
Learning to love myself has been a process, and I can’t promise that there aren’t those days where I grimace in front of the mirror before disappearing into an expandable pair of yoga pants and a hoodie. But most days, I do love myself. I love my legs, my hips, my ass, and my belly, my own little pot belly. And on those awful days, I stand in front of the mirror and say to myself, over and over again, “You are beautiful.” Because on those days, no matter who tries to reassure you that you look good, really, you do – no one can convince you of it except yourself.
Now, please pass the pasta.