We yelled from the rooftops, “all bodies are beautiful!”
We repeated it to ourselves until it seemed like the only possible truth.
We did “healthy” cleanses to “get back in touch with our sense of hunger” and “enjoy real food again” (refusing to give up the implicit ghettoization of some foods into the not-food category, the category of Badness, but that’s another story for another time).
We Accepted Ourselves and Loved Ourselves and goddamnit we Embraced Our Stretch Marks.
We ate appropriate portions of cake.
And then we saw … him.
The urge was animal, unavoidable.
“Svelte,” we said, but really the word on the tip of our tongues was “thin.”
It felt primal, and it was — if the definition of primal is a 12-year-old girl reading bread package labels by nightlight.
It was everything we’d wanted, and it was suddenly so attainable.
We no longer needed to be thin. We could be at once empowered and in possession of thinness. We could literally have it all.
My friend asks in a whisper, “do you think (my boyfriend) is attractive?”
She needs to make sure that I do, that he is. That his skin is stretched over bones the right way.
Later, a friend gives her the greatest compliment a woman can now receive. The friend-of-a-friend is asked for her type, and she blushes and demurs before admitting, “thin. Like (your boyfriend).”
What fresh cleanse is this?
We rejected the fetishization of our bodies but were powerless to stop our own bodies from craving the same.
Of course it’s not “better” to crave largeness. A return to the fantasies of being pinned down and powerless is not a step forward.
But why not seek strength?
Why not seek an equal, someone to sit at the table with us?
Someone who knows what it is to choose health, instead of choosing the physical manifestation of our own inner sickness?
The answer, of course, is that The Waif can be fed. He is empty, a vessel for our idealizations, to be filled up by proxy with our endless, insatiable hunger.