Thursday, September 17, 2009

cave girl and the city: part 2

in haiti, i have two dear friends that saw the change in me since i went back to living like a cave girl.  "you look so happy!"  "i can see how healthy you feel in your smile!"  "you practically shine!"  "wow, you're able to life such heavy things!"  "you beat me and the elevator by going up the stairs?  you are so fast!"

then, i came back to the states: "have you lost weight?"  "you look like you've lost weight!"  "you're looking thinner!"  "wow, you've lost weight!"

i've gone back and forth with diets all my life.  my mother was overweight and her example was one crazy diet after another.  there was the nothing but boiled chicken diet, the diet coke diet, the cabbage soup diet, the grapefruit diet, the leave-in acupuncture ear needles diet, etc.

i started dancing when i was twelve and felt the pressure to be smaller and smaller.  luckily, i danced folklore (like african dance, but with a lot more booty-shaking) as well as ballet.  folklore required that i be strong, not ballet fragile.

when i went to college, i flirted with eating disorders.  to my advantage, puking grosses me out and i can never go very long without food.  BUT, overeating?  THAT sounds like fun!  and pack it away, i could!

i stopped dancing.  i started "working out" in the way that americans do.  an hour on the treadmill, aerobics classes...nothing that was enjoyable, but things that were "necessary".

and so my body became my enemy.  it was something that needed fed all the time.  eating the carb-heavy american diet put me on a crazy roller-coaster of hungry and overfull.  doing "workouts" instead of moving to the music or playing on the field stuck me in front of the mirror with a lot of criticism.

there is still a epidemic confusion that skinny means healthy.  there is still the misconception that the slender girl is the happy girl.  we've all been sold a bill of goods that says if we can just lose 15 pounds, life will be everything that we wish it was.

i've been losing my way lately.  my eating has gotten erratic, movement has become something of a chore.  my recent desire has been to keep the weight loss going.  this is very anti-cave girl.  it's hard to rise up against the crushing tide of different priorities.  and my core priorities are very different than those of society.

when i move from health based living to wanting to lose weight, certain damaging behaviors raise their ugly little heads.  losing weight, being thin, as a goal is futile, fleeting, and potentially dangerous.  wanting to run faster, throw farther, sleep deeper, eat better, be stronger...these are things that one can have a greater measure of control, but most importantly, it is FUN.  it is PLAY.  remember being five years old?  that was when hopping was challenging.  that was when climbing a tree all by your big girl self was something that filled you with pride.  jumping rope was done to rhymes.  do you remember the way the inside of the house was cool and dark after the bright sun outside?  do you remember how red your face got when you were running as hard as you could?

i can't imagine cave girls wanting to grow up to be models.  i can't imagine cave girls worrying about an extra inch to pinch.  these girls were strong.  they were valued by what they could DO.  it was so much more important to be able to run away from a tiger carrying a toddler on your back than to fit into this year's loin cloth.

i'm trying to see myself, my body, as my tool.  it is my way to experience all the pleasures of this world: the breeze on my skin when i ride the bike, the tickle of grass under my feet as i run, the sun on my eyelids when i nap outside.  i am not an ornament or a statue.  i am dynamic.

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