Do we have to be glamorous to the grave? Do we have to carry with us all the societal beauty standards and internal fat-shaming and other BS, even when we are terminally ill?
To clarify, I am not terminally ill (any more than anyone else is – the sand in all our personal hourglasses will run out someday).
But I am ranting mad, because a friend of mine recently posted this, in part, about someone she loved, who just passed: “She fought cancer so valiantly. She was so beautiful. She looked like a fitness model til the end. She was a role model for cancer survivors. I will miss her so much.”
I didn’t want to go off on my friend about this, because cancer sucks, as I can testify, and losing friends sucks. I just told her I was sorry for her loss.
But I am inwardly raging about the words that poured out of her, because this is the message we receive and internalize as women, ALL THE TIME. That being beautiful, fit-looking, somehow makes a death more tragic. Are fat ugly people the ones who “should” be dying of cancer? Is this why the news media was all over the murder of young, blonde, lovely (and white) Nicole Brown Simpson, yet the murders of black transwomen are barely a blip on the radar?
What does it say about our society that conventional attractiveness seems to impact the expression of how/why we mourn someone?
And how can we unpack this?
I think it’s a sore spot for me because my mother worked really hard to lose weight, and she succeeded!! But in her final months, the metastasizing cancer bloated her liver and other internal organs, giving her a big belly. She felt so humiliated and ashamed; it was like a final indignity, cancer kicking her in the ‘nads while she was already down.
Another dear friend, my first writing mentor, experienced the same abdominal bloating and terrible embarrassment and shame about it. And I’ve heard of similar stories from other cancer victims, or heart disease victims, on and on and on. It makes me infuriated, that there is so much societal judgment about being fat that far too many women actually feel guilty about not looking slim when they are dying of #fuckingcancer. Ridiculous!
And we know, we KNOW!! that yo-yo dieting is especially hard on women, and their hearts. Especially older women. Yes, Carrie had done a fair amount of drugs in her youth, and she had sleep apnea, but many wonder if her death was in part related to the huge weight loss she gamely took on, to make the final Star Wars movies. Because, as she quipped, they only wanted to hire 3/4 of her.
Why did her weight even matter? Why couldn’t we have had a stocky or fat General Leia? I still would’ve watched the shit out of that.
As a group, women (and some men) are literally dying to be thin. Why are we are sending the message that nothing, not even death, is worse than being fat?
Must we be glamorous till the fucking grave? I want to join with the spirit of Carrie Fisher and flip off anyone who wants me to be Size Whatever.
And still, I admit, I want to be pretty. To have my loves see me as attractive, and sexy. My boudoir pictures, before and after my surgery, were and continue to be an important piece in reclaiming my life, and my power.
I am still struggling with foot pain issues, and while I’m still not getting on the scale, I know I’ve gained weight over the last year. It’s a vicious cycle – because being active is a problem, more weight is gained, putting more pressure/damage on my feet, which then hurt more…
I hope the physical therapy I’m about to start will help. I don’t have the time or patience to be hurting all the time. (Though perhaps it’s something the Universe wants me to learn something from?)
I also hope that when I die, a long time from now, people remember me as more than some fat chick (who deserved to die, because, fat). Perhaps, if I’m lucky, I’ll be remembered as someone with great boobs who rocked a tiara and made people laugh.
What kinds of body-shaming trigger you?