Cliché Number One: Awake at six a.m. due to an upsurge of acid reflux, I started doing some internet research, hoping for a website that would say: here is what you should do to get your insides to stop burning and clenching so you can get back to sleep. None of them did. However. I noted something else interesting. Not one of these websites mentioned fatness as causally related to gastroesophageal reflux disease. When this first cropped up in my life, it was all anyone talked about. My doctor. My mother. Do you think it's related to your binge eating? The websites I read this morning offered clinical descriptions of the weakness of the esophagus that causes this condition. A couple mentioned behavioral modifications that can help reduce symptoms. One mentioned weight loss as such a behavioral modification. But nowhere did I find even an insinuation that being fat causes gastrointestinal distress. Thus I discovered, retroactively, my first adult encounter with that common issue in fat medical care: Blame It On The Fat. This is particularly demonstrative, because I receive very good medical care. Mothers aren't ranked (though I can tell you anecdotally that at this point in my life I generally find mine lovely), but the doctor I'm talking about here shows up annually in the New York Magazine "best doctors" list, noted for young women's health and a specialty in eating disorders (let me tell you, she draws blood like a champ, but knows fuck-all about eating disorders in fat people—I remember her confusion when I first tried to articulate that I didn't think I was fat because I had an abnormally large appetite that could be treated with appetite suppressants). Point is: even the best doctors. The most expensive, the ones with the best reputations.
I did eventually get back to sleep (apple juice, water crackers, elevation of the upper body) and feel much better. (By the way.)
Cliché Number Two: I think I am developing a Shopping Issue. I went on a hypothetical shopping spree on the Lane Bryant website the other day, putting everything I wanted into my cart, and stopped short when I quickly racked up a thousand-dollar (hypothetical!) bill. When given a check for Christmas by my kind, generous, and extraordinarily entertaining aunt, I mentally earmarked it for clothes shopping. I used to want books. Now all I want is clothing. It is enough to make an English major feel superficial. Thoughts include: I have discovered the ability to dress myself and want to exercise it and what's wrong with that?; what sort of crazy consumerist machine am I buying (literally) into?; I wish I had the two hundred dollars to spend on a brown velvet skirt suit and if I did I would try not to think twice about spending it. Combination of books and fashion: an item on my Christmas list (alas, unfulfilled, so I will have to buy it for myself) included Roland Barthes's collection of theoretical writings: The Language of Fashion.
I was a terribly, terribly matronly high-school girl. My weight fluctuated wildly (during that four years I wore a 14, a 28, and everything in between). Clothes shopping was a hateful ordeal, and I avoided it, so a lot of my clothing was bought for me by my mother. Tentlike basic t-shirts, sack-skirts, elastic-waist "jeans." And now that I've learned that I can dress my body to advantage? Now that there's a boy who (for reasons I on bad days find unfathomable, I admit) kind of can't keep his hands off my ass? I cannot stop buying clothing. Or, perhaps more accurately, I cannot stop thinking about buying clothing. I find it diverting, distracting, and empowering. Can all three be true?
Among the slightly-too-big and slightly-too-small Christmas clothing gifts (after a very explicit email about my sizes—the fat girls know what I'm talking about in the pluralization and for all I know the skinny girls do, too) is an absolutely perfect dress. One perfect dress. I believe in the power of a perfect dress. With all my silly heart.