One of my friends and I were talking about fat and feminism the other day. Tonight, someone reminded me about the book “Fat is a Feminist Issue.” It is, today, just as it was in the 70s. And yet we are not the feminists now that we were then. It was the beginning, the 70s. A beginning, anyway. A time of revolutionary thinking, of hope, and of action.
We had so many ideas, and ideals. That we could be who we were, celebrate that, and break the stereotypes of who we were supposed to be into a million pieces. We wanted to reconstruct the relations between the sexes. We wanted to care about who we were, not what we looked like, and most certainly not what we were supposed to look like.
I graduated from high school in 1974, and started trying to figure out who I was. (Hint – I’m still trying.) I didn’t care about my looks. I was essentially dissociated from my body. I was fat. I didn’t care. I dressed badly. I didn’t care. So I told myself. It wasn’t true. I cared, and pretended not to. I ate, and hated myself. I dieted, and hated myself. I breathed, and hated myself.
Then I became immersed in feminism. In lesbian feminism. In a relationship with a woman. It was 1977. It was liberating. It was liberation. Women’s liberation. Without thinking about things, without dieting, without struggle, I lost weight. I was 98 pounds. I started getting harassed on the streets of Manhattan. In college classes. Men would grab my butt unapologetically, as if it were their right. They certainly believed it was. I became miserable. I gained weight.
Up and down. Down and up. Depending on mood, on depression, on grief. My father died when I was 28, and I couldn’t eat. I lost 30 pounds. Men salivated over my breasts. I gained 50 pounds. The roller coaster. Indefatigable.
Now, I’m done. I’m where I am. I don’t know where I’ll be in the future – near or distant. I know where I am now. I know I need to be OK with where I am now. In a radical, 1970s feminist way. Happy with me. Loving myself. Not living up to, or for, anyone else’s standards. Women’s. Men’s. The Patriarchy’s (how’s that for a throwback?). I’m channeling the joy and hope of my sisters in feminism, from my youth. And smiling.