He was a bad cliche: a musician who played beautiful music, but was mean and spewed words that were ugly as fuck. I had met him on Craig’s List. We exchanged torrid emails about poetry and art. When I met him in person, I saw red flags immediately- He had acne and horrible body odor. Online he confessed to being sensitive. In person I learned that he suffered from bi-polar disorder, and had gone off his medication- Hence the acne. He had lived in Jerusalem while studying to be a Rabbi, and had passionate opinions about music and culture. He was interesting, and I was in the throes of heartache, and void that left me feeling hungry. Nonetheless, I cried after the first time we slept together, and felt nothing but emptiness, and desperation.
A few months later he came to meet me at a pizza parlor after a show I had attended. The band was called Planet Booty – so I wore a form fitting sequin dress, and bejeweled cat ears. He texted that he could not wait to see my ass in the dress I was wearing, that he had viagra. It did not feel right, but I asked him to meet me anyway. He arrived while my friends and I were eating pizza. He joined us, and wolfed down buffalo wings.
Later, as we walked down the street, he said because it was the first night of Hanukkah- the festival of lights- he should be honest:
“I respect you as an artist,” he said. “As human, but I’m just not attracted to you. We all have different feathers. Some things shouldn’t be said, but, you’re fat as fuck, and it isn’t just how your body is. You don’t just have a big stomach, you are fat everywhere, the fat is spilling off you. You have a pretty face and a body that could be hot, but you don’t take care of it. You stuff yourself with pizza and go to the gym for 20 minutes. You lack discipline. It speaks to the way you treat your art. Every time I have had sex with you, I have felt disgusted to my very core.”
I hailed a cab as he continued on. I tried not to listen, but I kept hearing his words. I got into the cab without speaking to him. I blocked him on facebook, I blocked his number from my phone, but I could not block out the memory of his words. I kept hearing them over and over again. They rang like ugly bells.
No matter how many ways I have tried to reclaim his words, make them mine, make them absurd, I could not take away their hurt. No matter how many times I have told myself that he was crazy, I could not forget the ugliness of his words, or forgive myself for letting them get to me.
Hence, though fat-activists valiantly try reclaim the word fat, I cannot erase the way that word has at once defined and violated my body. Fat has never been a positive word for me. Not with my family, not with my peers, and certainly not with the boyfriend I had when I was twenty years old who told me I was too fat to fuck and then gave me herpes.
I am a woman who struggles with an eating disorder, and anxiety. I use food as a way to soothe myself. I have to watch not only what I eat but how I eat. Sugar and starches trigger me emotionally. I have to be careful to not overeat, or eat too quickly. Sometimes I eat so quickly out of nervousness that I bite my tongue. I like going to the gym and exercising because it helps me with my anxiety. I have weighed as much as 245 lbs and as little as 160 lbs. I like my body when it is 160 lbs more than I do when it is 245 lbs.
I refuse to reclaim the word “fat.” I want to reclaim a more powerful word than fat. I want to reclaim a different word: The night I wore that sequin dress and cat ears to hear Planet Booty, I asked a friend, “Do I look ok?”
“No,” she said. “You do not look ‘ok.’ You look beautiful.”
Submitted to ArtParasites by Trixie Valentine