Monday, November 15, 2010

The Weather, What's Wrong With That?

Cynical Nymph's latest post made me think of a similar experience I had recently concerning other people's bodies as topics of conversation.

A coworker asked me, in envious tones, how I "stay so thin".

I hate that question. The truth is, I'm so thin because I'm so sick. I'm not stupid or unaware enough to claim that my thinness doesn't please me in that it conforms to a really fucked up standard of beauty in our culture, but I hate what it represents: sickness. See my collarbones? That's disease. My tiny waist? Pain. My slim thighs? Increasing disability.

Yes, I have a seriously warped relationship with my body. And I'd trade all that societally acceptable thin for a body of any shape that worked and wasn't in pain.

I hate that question, also, because it's rude. My body is not a topic for conversation, or it shouldn't be. Would you ask me about my sex life? How about the results of my latest blood test? Sure, "you're thin" is the ultimate compliment in our society, and nothing one should mention. My body isn't here for you to talk about, to please you, nor to provide you with conversation.

Total strangers will ask me about my body. It's bizarre, and like CN, forces me to confront something I don't like to confront. In her case, it's her eating disorder, in mine it's my illness. I don't want to deal with it, and I certainly don't want to get into it with a stranger.

Bodies are never, ever neutral topics of conversation. Stick with the weather next time.

Oh, I told my coworker I am thin because I am sick. It made her uncomfortable, which wasn't my intent. She really is nice and I have to work with her. So I don't know what to tell you to say in response to that sort of question.


  1. Right. It's not, "I want to make you feel bad for asking me that," but it's also not, "I'd rather keep having this discussion with you because I'm too embarrassed/scared to say anything." It's not exactly the specific people themselves that bother me. It's what their comments are products of: this whole "fat is bad!1!!one!!" thing.

    This is why I prefer books. Books don't comment on my body. They just entertain me like dancing paper monkeys.

  2. And now my life is incomplete without dancing paper monkeys . . .

  3. Buy a book whose nature as a book is being destroyed by the words in it (say, a book by Ray Comfort) and turn it into a little origami monkey. Add strings. Attach strings to your fingers. Move your fingers.

    Dancing paper monkey, with the added bonus of a shitty book being no more.

  4. Well, that's certainly better than exorcism by fire. Not that I've ever been good at origami. My cranes look more like diseased Elm trees.

  5. I am sorry about your pain. Body image is a hudge image in our culture and people like yourself can often get caught in the crossfire.

  6. richard dawkins does not exist....

    atheists, we're gonna cut off your heads...


  7. So how do you stay so partly cloudy with 20% humidity and a dewpoint of 60 degrees?


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