The Makings of a Manifesto: Fat Women, Skinny Girls and a Chorus of Courage
How I Made the Manifesto: An excerpt from my journal
I saw you.
I really didn't mean to watch you. I, of all people, intimately understand how personal a moment it is to be weighing yourself on a scale in a public place. But I couldn't help myself.
It was your visibly slumped shoulders that caught my attention, the way that you seemed to deflate the moment that the scales balanced and rendered their verdict. The number in pounds seemed to produce a weapon for you to wield against yourself.
It was this visceral defeat in your posture that caught my eye, but it was what happened next that caused me to stare.
You got off the scale and turned to walk out of the locker room, but you had to pass the row of mirrors over the sinks on your way out. As you exited, you stood on your tiptoes so that you could assess your entire profile. I watched your eyes travel from your shoulders to your chest, through your tummy, past your ass and down your thighs. You looked like you were surveying wreckage after an accident on the side of the road. You were appalled. And I was heartbroken.
For a split second, you caught my eye in the mirror. I tried to muster a knowing smile - because I know ALL ABOUT hating my body in every quasi-reflective surface known to man - but your cheeks flushed with shame and you looked away, knowing that I had caught you in the private act of self-loathing. For a brief moment, I thought about intervening.
I considered standing up, crossing the distance between us, cupping your face in my hands and saying "You passed."
Better yet, I might have told you that there really was no test in the first place. You were exactly as you were made to be, right in that moment. But I knew that would never be enough.
What is the voice of one fat woman in a gym locker room against the cacophony of voices to the contrary? You would never believe me.
And then a few days later, I thought of you again. I'd checked into the news for the day and had dipped my toes in the Nassar trial, particularly the Nassar sentencing because I couldn't stomach the actual trial. I was so moved by the bravery of these young women, these girls, who found their voice and formed a chorus of truth to bring that man to his knees.
And then I thought of you in that locker room, under your own kind of assault. I wondered, for the millionth time, how you might be freed from scales and mirrors and those voices in your head. I wondered what might have been possible had I found the words to heal your wounds.
And then I read it. In the news story about the Nassar sentencing, I read the thing I wish I would have said.
I wish I had cupped your face in my hands, locked eyes with yours, and said:
"Leave your pain here. Now go out and do your magnificent things."
This was an invitation uttered by Judge Rosemarie Aquilina to the survivors in that courtroom. This is also my invitation to you.
Because the beautiful things belong to you. You were most certainly made for the magnificent.
And this body, your body, is a vehicle for all of those things, but it is NOT THE DESTINATION.
There are mountains and oceans and fields and flowers waiting for you and you will never see them or smell them or bathe in them if you're stuck in this stinky locker room, waiting for the scale to tell you that you're good enough and praying that the mirror will forgive you.
So, go. Do your MAGNIFICENT THINGS, so that we are no longer one fat woman and one skinny girl locking eyes at the gym. Instead, we will be two voices in a chorus of truth, armed with the courage to conquer, ready for the revolution.
And since you can't really have a revolution without a Manifesto, I thought I'd make one for us.
You and me, baby. Let's be full.