a [mental] physical examination
February 26, 2002 11:41 AM

I've noticed a valid physical reason for my disjointed concept of self. That is, the appearance that is partly my self.

Unlike most fat people, I am fat forwards and backwards more than side to side. It's true. Most people get wider (hence all the truisms about widening hips, et al) rather than deeper. I, on the other hand, have consistently gained depth rather than breadth. That's true about things other than my ass, too. But not universally.

Somehow my awareness of this depth has made me see myself pretty. Prettier. Not to say I've assumed myself completely hideous, but rather that I see me as prettier than someone else.


I started composing a list of traits in my head. Things about my body that I like, dislike, or just have noticed. A sort of mental physical exam, but also a reality check. I highly recommend it.

Huge brown eyes. Coupled with my accidentally exaggerative facial expressions, porcelain-doll pallor and short flippy hair, I am a biological homage to silent film.

Luminescence. I will never be mistaken for anything but a white girl. I am so white, in fact, that I was once banned from being a focus object [that's the person who wanders about on stage while people point lights at her to ensure that lights are properly focused] because I captured, and reflected, all the light on stage. I am also terribly vulnerable to bad lighting. When my skin isn't being irritated or having flourescent light shone at it, it's translucent, even opalescent. I look good in bus stops at night.

Tiny hands and feet. My most commented-upon features. I wear a size five or six shoe, which makes finding shoes quite easy (It used to, at least; apparently the market has begun to recognise that women do not, on average, have tiny feet. Now if we could just get better clothes for average and fat chicks...). I don't know if this a result of their size or just a coincidence, but I also have quite precise fine motor control, despite hand-eye coordination that's mediocre at best.

My ass. Even at my slimmest, the rest of me was much smaller than my ass. It's a very big ass now. In its defense, it never asked to be big, and its bigness is powerful. The same goes for my legs. They're big and even a little jiggly, but they're strong. And flexible.

Old-lady arms. I have them. All fat on top, they drape over my pointy little elbows. I think my arms are ugly. They don't even make up for their ugliness with power. They need to do more, join the Marines or something.

Chin. I wish I had one, but am also glad not to have two or five. My jaw quietly recedes into my neck. My chin is unassuming, perhaps compensating for the upright, thrust forward cockiness of the way I hold my head. Poor, shy little chin.

Space. My body always knows where it is and what its doing. If I fall down, my body anticipates, and sits down instead. I don't think I've ever fallen on my face. I am also (and this may surprise, considering my bulkiness) graceful in a slow, space-molding sort of way. People ask if I'm a dancer.

Pouchy tummy. It's getting pouchy in a svelte, voluptous way; sort of soft but firm, very feminine. If I could spend more time belly or hula dancing, I'd be very friendly with my tummy.

Tragic lungs. With just a pinch of asthma and much more than a pinch of allergies, both of which have lasted most of my remembered life, I'm not sure I've ever breathed clearly, or that I'd even recognise real clear breathing. Thinking about breathing drives me insane, makes me breathe all erratically.

Sulky, pouty lips. Some people smile all the time; their lips are just drawn that way. I don't. After years of everyone thinking I looked sad, I make an effort to always be slightly smiling just to avoid comments. Now people think I'm a smiling dork, unaffected by the problems around me. It's partly true; I am very cool under pressure in the sense that few people can tell if I'm upset. Also, I think my lips are big.

Undisciplined eyebrows. They would grow thick, black and close together if they could. And they like to slam dance. They are the punk rock dissidents of my face.

Upturned nose. I can tighten the muscles just below and make it wiggle like a rabbit's.

Prehistoric breasts. I'd swear they pre-date me. They are the large, pendulous breasts of a much older woman. And the thing is: they came that way.

My cunt. It's unremarkable. Neither a dirty unmentionable nor a sacred jewel that encapsulates my essence. I suppose the only thing worth mentioning is that I do, indeed, call it a cunt. And sometimes other little nicknames.

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