‘So exactly when did I start to be an asshole?’ I asked my partner the other day. ‘Was it last year?’ ‘Yes,’ he immediately responded, ‘you have been an asshole for about a year.’ Ah he is so dear to me, so honest, so practical, so non-complimentary. By that I mean only that he does not give compliments, for he is in many ways a complement to me. Indeed we are essentially opposites. He does not work out. He thinks beer tastes good. He can watch multiple episodes of BSG in a row, without moving. He is a night person. In contrast, I am a leap out of bed in the morning, scotch drinking, workaholic, fitness addict who can’t bear more than one hour of TV without cleaning or baking something. Biscotti anyone?
He is also a very tolerant person who can be friends with almost anyone. I, on the other hand, have become increasingly judgmental, especially within the last year or so. I am nevertheless ashamed of my behaviour, so that’s something isn’t it? Basically, I find it hard to comprehend why people would want to be weak. I wonder what it must feel like not to work out at all, to be skinny fat or just plain fat. Both are equally bad options in my mind. I think it would be fine to be strong and fat in a solid sort of way. I cannot be too specific here because many people who read this blog actually know who I am and might recognize some of my descriptions. Let’s just say that I was at a certain social event that featured a buffet with really crappy, cheap food. While I was avoiding it and downing the soda water, I noticed that a morbidly obese woman returned to fill her plate some four times. I was astonished by how much low quality, high fat food she ate. I was even more surprised, however–and here comes the shame spiral again–by her apparent lack of concern for her appearance. She seemed just fine with being a size 30 or so, and did not care who saw her eat huge amounts in public. Now do you see why I am reluctant to admit my response? For I am supposed to be a feminist, supporting all my sisters, not looking down on them. And I realize that she has every right to live how she wants and to take pleasure in her corporeality. She likely has a full social and sex life, maybe even better than mine. Who am I to judge?
Yet judge I do, on an almost daily basis. I never used to appraise people’s bodies. But I do now, immediately and unthinkingly. I see a chubby young man and affirm ‘If I were him I would start doing some chest presses. What a waste of naturally occuring testosterone.’ Or I muse, ‘Why doesn’t she put that ice cream cone down and run to the nearest bootcamp? Those frozen chemicals cannot possibly taste better than health feels.’ Is the fitness culture having a bad effect on me; is it turning me into a terrible person? That is a definite possibility.
I mentioned my new-found assholeness to my trainer, a beautiful, strong young woman. She responded by noting her frustration with clients who refused to work hard, finding multiple excuses to avoid the gym, often claiming not to have enough time. (Aside: as far as I can tell, the fittest people at the gym, like the MMA fighters and boxers, are also the busiest; fit people value working out and do not consider it an option). At the same time, she explained that her obese clients always had some kind of psychological reason for wanting to remain fat even as they struggled to lose weight. Women who were abused as children, for instance, might feel safer with a layer of protective fat. Now that does not mean that all fat people are somehow suffering or damaged. (Well, we are all damaged, and I mean that in a good way, for those who have had easy lives are boring idiots). But each case is individual and from now on I will try to squash those negative evaluations before they spring into my mind.
I am reluctant to publish this draft as an official post. I fear that you are thinking badly of me, agreeing ‘yeah, she really is an asshole.’ I also fear that you are correct. But I’m working on it so lighten up, okay? And while you’re at it, get off your lazy asses and go run some stairs or something. Oops….