Tag Archives: fat acceptance

The Fear of Being Derivative and of Not Fitting In

I (obviously) haven’t been blogging much. What I told myself was that I was afraid to put anything out there that was too much like the writing that some of the big-name fat activists, like Ragen Chastain and Virgie Tovar are writing.

Almost a year ago, I emailed Ragen some photos for a video montage (I’m at :42, 1:07, and 2:59) and thanked her for giving me the words to say what I want to say about fat acceptance and fat civil rights. But I also I told her that I was afraid to blog too much for “fear of being too derivative.”  Ragen encouraged me to blog, even if I said the same thing as she does, in my own words.

So what’s this fear?  The fear of sounding like everyone else?  Of not having anything original to say?  The fear of being derivative doesn’t even come up in Google suggestions for “fear of being  d . . . ” The actual fear of not being or sounding original only shows up once in the top ten websites in a Google search of “fear of being derivative.”

To flesh out the fear a little more, I feel like I don’t have anything original to say.  I read books and online constantly, so I’m afraid to start writing because I feel like I’ll just be parroting back something that I’ve read–not something that I’ve thought of myself.  And then I think that even if what I say isn’t quite the same, do I need to be writing if I’m almost like someone else?

But isn’t everything derivative?  Isn’t there only one universal Hero’s Journey?   How do you get over the fear of sounding like everyone else?

So I did what I always do:  Look for answers in a book.  In Bird by Bird: Some Thoughts on Writing and Life, Anne Lamott acknowledges that her students often take on someone else’s style, that another author’s style is “a prop that you use for a while until you have to give it back.  And it just might take you to the thing that is not on loan, the thing that is real and true: your own voice.”  She says that “the great writers keep writing about the cold dark place within.”

And then it hit me: My “cold, dark place within” is the fear of not belonging, of not being like everyone else.  I’ve found myself taking great pains to try to fit in, and I even created an extrovert, at odds with my bookwormish and somewhat socially-anxious self, to attempt to fit in.  As a fat woman, I’ve been subject to appearance-based stigma for just about my entire life. Last to be picked on teams, never had a date in high school, blah, blah, blah.  The world tells me I don’t fit in when chairs or desks are too small or I can’t find clothes to fit me.  The fear of not fitting in is probably one of the most universal fears, but for those of us who are fat, it’s not just a fear. It’s a reality.

But if not fitting in is my big fear, then how can I also at the same time fear being derivative, which is being just like everyone else?

Having both of these fears at the same time is completely irrational.

Seth Godin calls it the resistance–that fear that tells us to go slow, to compromise, that creates writer’s block.  I realized that that’s what my fear of being derivative is–the resistance has been winning for too long.

No more.

Body Image from a UU perspective

This is the text of a sermon I did at UUCC of Hendrick County on Sunday, February 28, 2016:

Let’s imagine a hypothetical world: In this world, most people are born with orange skin, and most, but not everyone has some random purple splotches scattered somewhere on their body. A few—say 10%–are born completely purple. Skin color changes changes somewhat over one’s life, and scientists don’t know exactly why. A person might start out mostly orange and develop visible purple splotches as they get older, or they might be born completely purple. Orange people often get more purple as they get older, but not always. Purple people might become more orange, but that usually only happens when purple people get sick. There’s no good way to determine what exact combination of orange and purple someone will be or end up and there is no biological difference between someone who is mostly orange or mostly purple.

If it’s anything like our society, there is a huge, multi-billion dollar industry that is designed to “help” people become less purple and more orange. But the reality is that skin color cannot be changed through any effort. A person’s body is the color that it is. It might change, but it might not. The color a person is and exact combination and change of their colors is a biological process that is not understood.

Imagine you are a purple person. How would you feel in the following situations?

  • Without any prompting or encouragement from you, people told you how they thought you could become more orange?
  • People incessantly talked about eating fewer purple things so that they wouldn’t become purple because the underlying assumption is that “everyone knows being purple is so terrible.”
  • Orange people with some purple splotches are advised to cover those areas because “who wants to see that ugly purple”.
  • In a social situation, folks compare how purple they feel that day, even though they seem completely orange and you can see no visible purple when you look at them.
  • How would you feel if you were objectively more purple than any one of the orange people who said that they “felt purple”?

Does this sound familiar? Isn’t this how we talk about fat and our bodies?

I believe that I, and all fat people, deserve respect and the right to live in our bodies just as they are. I use the word “fat” in its neutral sense as just a descriptor to reclaim it, just like many LGBT people have reclaimed queer and many African-Americans have reclaimed the N-word. You can jump off the diet rollercoaster by using another approach, called “Health at Every Size.” There is actual science that disproves the assumption that losing weight will make you healthier. But that’s not today’s focus. You may not be ready to give up dieting. But you can change the way you think about your body, regardless of what it looks like or what it can or can’t do.

You may be asking, what does body image have to do with being a UU? We are usually more focused on social justice for others. But the way we feel about our own bodies necessarily reflects and illuminates what we really think of other people’s bodies. Essentially, if we want to respect the inherent worth and dignity of all persons we have to start with ourselves. Respecting the inherent worth and dignity of all persons means respecting even the fat ones. Our spaces need to welcome everyone no matter how much of their time and talent they can contribute, who they love, or how much of the pew they take up. We need to ensure that our spaces don’t exclude people even if the exclusion is unconscious.

I hope that the purple/orange imaginary world has started you to think about how some of the things we might think and say about our own bodies—our own body image—how that might be unconsciously creating an atmosphere of stigma that makes our spaces unwelcoming to fat people.

Other religions consider the body just a vessel for the spirit, or consider anything having to do with bodily pleasure sinful. In my opinion, both ways are wrong. We have both minds, or consciousness, which reside in our physical bodies, and we have these physical bodies that require physical things—movement, sleep, food, and water, and a safe place and means to eliminate waste. But the systems—body and mind—are interconnected. I’m sure we’ve all experienced the difficulty in controlling our thoughts and actions when food or sleep has been scarce. I hope we’ve all experienced euphoria after using our bodies for something incredibly physical such as good sex or a long run or walk. And of course, negative experiences to the body such as physical or sexual abuse, or injuries or illnesses that change your body can lead to depression and other mental and emotional issues.

I’ve come to realize that the way my body feels, and chemical signals beyond my awareness both have a strong effect on my mind. It’s more limited the other way around—I can’t “think myself thin” for example, or cure my cancer with my thoughts or prayers. But conscious effort, along with thoughtful external stimuli, can help shape the way I think about my body.

Let’s go back to the orange and purple metaphor. Imagine two purple people. One is born on a completely-purple world, where everyone is purple. The other is born on this purple and orange world. They probably think of themselves differently. The person born on an all-purple world probably thinks that their body is just their body and it’s just purple? Like a black person born in Africa, never seeing white people, that person doesn’t think of themselves as black.
But the other person—born on the purple and orange world—she grows up thinking that being purple is the worst thing anyone can be. She doesn’t ever see a purple person on her version of television, and when she does, they are an object of laughter and ridicule. Everything she sees, advertisements, newspapers, even her relatives—all they talk about is how they don’t ever want to become purple, because being purple is so unhealthy. Relatives tell her that she’ll never find anyone to love her because she’s purple, and when she walks on the street orange people yell rude things out of cars at her because they can see that she’s obviously purple and how dare she leave the house. Remember, the scientists haven’t actually found any biological difference between purple and orange people.

Maybe the reason it seems unhealthy to be purple in that world is not because it’s objectively unhealthy to be purple, but because the society has so much stigma against purple people. The stress of constantly being rejected, told that she shouldn’t have been seen in public, that purple people couldn’t do a particular job, hearing that no one could ever love a purple person, and seeing that everyone she knows never wants to be like her and is willing to take extreme measures like dangerous surgeries so that they will never become purple or so that the purple parts can be excised—wouldn’t that constant stress take a toll on her health? Is that purple person going to grow up thinking well of her purple body, love it, and take care of it?

Obviously, being fat in our world is equivalent to being purple. So how do we change our focus when all we’ve learned is that fat is bad and we should do anything to avoid becoming fat?
Earlier, I said that our mind and thoughtful external stimuli can change the way we think about our bodies. I think we change our minds by first becoming conscious of and opening our eyes to the fabric of fat stigma in our world. Only when we are aware, and we recognize that what we say, and see how it affects others, so that we can avoid perpetuating that stigma, can we begin. Then we have to surround ourselves with images of people of all sizes, colors, shapes, and ages, and learn to appreciate our bodies no matter what they look like or what they can or can’t do. That is how we change our minds.

It’s hard work, especially with the brainwashing we voluntarily undertake when we watch TV or other media. Ragen Chastain, a fat acceptance warrior, with the blog Dances with Fat, suggests the first thing is to deliberately notice what’s beautiful in other people.

I’ve done that sometimes, walking around in the office or in the elevator—I try to change my inner dialogue when I come into contact with other people. Instead of thinking “wow, she’s so beautiful, I could never be that pretty” or “I’m glad I’m not that fat”—stop comparing! I try to notice something beautiful about every person I see, and just appreciate it for what it is—the unique beauty of every person. For some people, they have a pleasing, rich skin tone, great hair, kind eyes, broad shoulders, symmetrical form. You can appreciate at least one thing about every person you meet, and it changes your perspective from always being critical of yourself and comparing yourself to others to noticing the beauty in everyone.

Then expand that appreciation to yourself. I always love the way my wrist curves when my hand is sitting on the steering wheel, so I appreciate that. I love the fact that I have defined calf muscles and I never had to do anything to get them. Those muscular calves are as much a part of my genetic inheritance as my belly and jiggly upper arms and thighs are. All of my parts deserve appreciation. My eyes are three different colors of brown and gold. I love that! Many of you know that I had a bilateral-both sides—mastectomy over ten years ago. I had reconstruction, where the surgeon took muscles from my back, brought them around to the front, and inserted implants. They’re not my old breasts, nothing ever will be. But I love my reconstructed breasts anyway because I am still amazed at the skill and artistry it took to create them—where I once had no breasts at all, the surgeon created some that even have cleavage!

If you’ve really been brainwashed and have a hard time finding just one thing you can appreciate about your own body, you can still get there. I’ve learned a lot about body acceptance from differently-abled speakers and writers. A recent podcast of On Being is with Dr. BJ Miller, who is director of a zen hospice in San Francisco, who lost both legs below the knee and an arm below the forearm to an accident his sophomore year of college. He talks here about his evolution of “coming out” as a disabled person and how he sees his legs.

The whole podcast is worth listening to, but specifically, start at about 18:00 and listen through about 24:18.

Doesn’t that change your perspective on your own body?

Another thing you can do to change the way you think about your body is to think about everything your body does for you every day, all the time, and be grateful for it. Those of us who are able-bodied, that condition is temporary. For now, our bodies breathe without thinking about it, pump gallons and gallons of blood every day, allow us to experience the beauty in the world that we can see, smell, taste, hear, and touch. Without our bodies, we wouldn’t experience a lot of the things that bring us joy.

On another On Being, Benedictine Monk Brother David Steindle-Rast said “Spirituality is aliveness on all levels. It must start with our bodily aliveness. ..if you really are grateful, come alive with your smell. Start smelling, not sightseeing, but smell-smelling, and it is wonderful. … And all this coming alive, that is spirituality. Science has discovered that when people are grateful, they come alive.”

Hundreds of years ago, it was hard for Galileo to maintain his beliefs in what he knew about the earth, despite prison and the fact that his entire society “knew” that the earth was flat. Today, we know now how wrong everyone else was about the shape of the world. The idea that we can control our body shape and size by dieting or “lifestyle changes” is what “everyone knows” today. Science has told us that things aren’t as simple as calories in/ calories out, that there are biological processes we don’t understand and can’t control by conscious effort. But capitalism and the media have a vested interest in people being unsatisfied with their bodies. It is a brave and radical act to just love our bodies as they are without trying to change them.

And this gets us to the place where we can do things for the world. Because while we’re focused on changing something that is unchangeable, we don’t have the energy or time to fight things that are more important—like gun violence, poverty, lack of good water, and all kinds of inequality. As UUs, we have an obligation to respect the inherent worth and dignity of every person. One’s body image is so ingrained with our sense of self that I think the best way to get to a world where all people of all body shapes, sizes, colors and abilities are respected and granted the dignity they deserve is to start with ourselves.

 

Shadow on a Tightrope

I came of age in the 1980s. When Shadow on a Tightrope: Writings by Women on Fat Oppression was published in 1983, I was fifteen years old. I was a smart, bookish, self-conscious young fat woman who had spent nine years in Catholic school, and whose biggest desire was to be swept off of her feet by a boy and live happily ever after.

My size acceptance journey started a few years later, with Big Beautiful Woman Magazine. I have spent most of the ensuing years struggling with relationships, with what I wanted to do with my life, and with circumstances beyond my control. I’m giving up the struggle, and am learning how to just be and to do things that make me happy.

I didn’t read Shadow on a Tightrope until Marilyn Wann (author of Fat? So!) suggested on Facebook a month or two ago a blog carnival for its thirtieth anniversary. Who knows why I didn’t read it before – maybe I was just finally ready.

I record each book I read in a book journal, so post-it note flags are a necessary companion to most books. I mark beautiful sentences or quotes that I want to remember as relevant to my life.

This is what Shadow on a Tightrope looked like when I was done:

photo (1)

I found something to relate to in just about every piece in Shadow on a Tightrope. Thirty years ago, the contributors expressed ideas and told truths that have been rolling around in my brain, difficult to admit and express. Each quote could spawn its own post.

We believe that our bodies’ sizes are chosen and reflect personal control and we ignore or reject all evidence that contradicts this belief…If you are fat, you can choose to count calories or grams of carbohydrates….the range of choices hides the fact that you are compelled to choose. As for the choices themselves, no matter which you choose you are choosing pain through hunger. If therefore you choose to reject all reducing options, you are punished with ridicule and social rejection.”

The Fat Illusion, Vivian F. Mayer

Growing up in the 1970s, the social rejection was real but never acknowledged. My mother remembers how, on the cusp of womanhood, I came home from school crying every day one year.

Women are divided into those who fear getting fat and those who are ashamed of being fat….[Thin women] are rewarded with male approval and with permission to feel superior to fat women.”

The Fat Illusion, Vivian F. Mayer

We used to have only these options. Now, thanks in part to these brave writers, fat acceptance is a third option.

Like the pressures to marry and bear children, the universal, self-styled concen for fat women’s health is rooted in the axiom that every female’s first desire is to attract males.”

Some Thoughts on Fat, Joan Dickerson

It took reading The Feminine Mystique recently for me to realize how ingrained this cultural conditioning is. And the expectations to be partnered and to be thin are intertwined. Fat, single women who bear children outside of marriage rebel against all of these expectations.

Society punishes fat men and women by taking their sexuality away. Fat women are punished most severely. For, in a society where women are chiefly sex objects, a woman’s sexuality is really all that she has to bargain with in the first place.”

Fat Women and Women’s Fear of Fat, Lynn Mabel-Lois and Aldebaran

I realized a while ago that one of the reasons I became a lawyer is because people listen to lawyers. Despite all of the jokes about greedy, unethical lawyers, you still call a lawyer when you are in real trouble. If I couldn’t be desired as a woman, I would have respect from being at least a decent lawyer.

I want to be held but have no lover, and when I have no lover I don’t feel loved. Even though I know I’m loved by friends, I don’t feel loved . . . I tell myself it’s not true. My friends love me. I am lovable even if I’m alone in bed.”

A Day in My Life, Judy Freespirit

I have felt like Judy Freespirit often, but I have been trying to get past it, as I wrote here.

Dieting, not unlike foot-binding, is a male-created institution which obsesses, weakens, sickens, and kills womyn; enforces class oppression and the assimilation of ethnic peoples. It’s easy for us in this country to condemn cultures which practice clitorectomies—and not so easy for us to look at how we participate with our “own” patriarchy in defining a natural condition among womyn as a disgusting sickness.”

Traveling Fat, Elana Dykewomon

Fat oppression is still so ingrained, most people don’t even recognize it as a problem. There is still a lot of work to do.

Amid the sexual revolution sweeping my generation through the late sixties and early seventies, I remained on the sidelines – permitted to cheer the participants on but never to join in.”

Attraction and/or Intimidation: Fat Women’s Sexual Dilemmas, Karen W. Scott-Jones

Like Oscar Wao in the Junot Diaz novel, and this author, my adolescence was like being locked in the closet on Venus when the sun came out every fifty years. 

When I first began to translate my experiences into politics, I realized how my anger and frustration . . . was directly related to fat women’s status as sexual pariahs. This “status,” in turn, is, (directly or indirectly) responsible for our oppression. Certainly most, if not all, of the discrimination we face is based on our failure to measure up to the looksist standards of acceptability for women today. . . All this intensely negative conditioning toward fat female bodies programmed into just about everyone, fat or thin, male or female, is at the root of our feelings about ourselves as women as well as a basic cause for our mistreatment; dealing with our sexuality, then, is fundamental not only to becoming “sexually liberated” but to confronting the socially enforced taboos we encounter in other areas of our lives as well.”

Attraction and/or Intimidation: Fat Women’s Sexual Dilemmas, Karen W. Scott-Jones

The challenge is to be a fat, sexual woman who expresses her sexuality in a healthy way. It is almost impossible to do this without finding an emotionally-healthy and fat-accepting man.  

My naivete in underestimating the pressures on fat women, in social and/or sexual opportunities “offered” them, to attempt to satisfy not only their physical needs but their need to be validated as a woman by being chosen by a man – (as one woman in NAAFA told me, “I don’t feel self-conscious about my weight if I’m with a man because I’m advertising to the world that somebody finds me desirable”) – has, I think been corrected through firsthand experience since then. . . . I have become increasingly aware of the double bind facing any sexually active fat woman: the more options we create and/or take advantage of, the more we realize what the conditions attached to these options are – what we must, in effect, give up to get laid (or have a relationship, or get married, or whatever) this time.

Attraction and/or Intimidation: Fat Women’s Sexual Dilemmas, Karen W. Scott-Jones

I realized the ideas in this quote independently not too long ago, and wrote about it here.

These quotes are just a sampling of what the contributors to Shadow on a Tightrope wrote that I wish I had been able to learn and assimilate thirty years ago.

Maybe it’s taken me so long to get here because I came to feminism, like so many other ideas I now find critical to my worldview, in a roundabout way. As the first generation in my family to attend college, my female role models worked outside the home but didn’t discuss feminist theory. I knew generally about feminism through the news of the Equal Rights Amendment, but in my family, feminism wasn’t really discussed. There was too much work to be done. They taught me that I could and should work, and that I should be prepared to take care of myself. As the oldest child, I was expected to help both my Mom in the house and my Dad outside and with the car. Women were supposed to do it all: work to support the family, take care of the house, and raise the family as well. Three out of my four grandparents had been turn-of-the-twentieth-century immigrants or the children of immigrants, and women had to work. But I’ve also realized that, even though the women worked, the only unmarried female role models I had were the nuns who were my teachers.

The dominant paradigm and expectation that I grew up with was that I would go to college, get a good job, meet a man, and have a family. As far as relationships, I was always told there was someone for everyone.

I remember being told stories of aunts who had been fat as kids, but lost weight when they got to high school. Both were beautiful 1950s brides, slender, with handsome husbands, married before they turned 21. It was expected that I would meet someone and get married, too.

But here’s where the expectation collided with the reality of life as a fat woman. I never got thin. After I discovered BBW magazine, I decided not to diet, and so, I have never weighed under 200 pounds for as long as I can remember. There has never been a time that I could have passed for thin. (Although I know that I have experienced thin privilege when compared to many other fat women. I can buy clothes at a mass-merchandise store, and my body fits in chairs and standard seat belts.)

I never dated in high school, and had few, mostly casual sexual opportunities later.  By the time I was in my early twenties, I was so hungry for a real relationship that I made a terrible choice and let a man I met move in the day after I met him.

I’m a different person now, thankfully. Finally reading Shadow on a Tightrope showed me that what I experienced is not atypical for a fat woman. It sucks and it needs to change, but knowing that others before me have felt the same way gives me companions on my journey.

And knowing others feel the same is the biggest change since 1983. The internet and the rise of social media have allowed an ease of communication that could not have been imagined at that time. Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and fat-positive Tumblr pages help by connecting us so that we know that we are not alone.

Vivian F. Meyer wrote in the Foreword that

“we have lacked a way to communicate with each other. Under the triple stresses of fat oppression, isolation, and the disinterest or even hostility with which our pleas for support were often met, fat activists have all too often taken the frustrations out on each other and destroyed our own organizations before they could take root.”

Together, we can make continue to make change, with Shadow on a Tightrope as our inspiration.  All we have to do is tell our stories and open and awaken one mind at a time.

Fat and Single

I remember towards the end of college, visiting my Dad’s stepmother, who I knew as “Grandma.”  She was one of the only people I remember ever saying anything to me specifically about my weight as a child. She was in a nursing home by then, and she told me, during one of the last times I spoke with her, that if I didn’t lose weight, that “I’d never find a boyfriend.” I responded by telling her that wasn’t a problem, because I had a boyfriend.  I don’t remember if I actually did, although it was plausible, because by the time I finished college, I had finally begun to experience some attention from men.  (I was a late bloomer.) What I didn’t say was that never finding anyone was my biggest fear, too.

Until the past two years, and for a few other brief times in my life, I have always had a man in my head: I have been either in a relationship, or have been searching and trying to get into a relationship.  I was always thinking about what I could do to meet someone, after which time life would be perfect.  This may seem strange to those of you who know that I became a single mom by choice.  Most women who make the decision to have a child on their own without a partner go through the process of grieving the happily ever after, or the idea that you would meet the right man, get married, and have babies, in that order.  My biological clock wouldn’t give me enough time to meet the right man, so I figured that I’d just switch the order. I’d have a baby, keep on dating, and then meet him.  There was no reason I couldn’t have more kids with him. 

Then cancer got in the way and I realized that I would only have one biological child.  I feel grateful to have her, but I still wanted to meet the right man.  I tried online dating, joining groups, but after months or even a couple of years, relationship after relationship didn’t work out.

Before the last relationship, I struggled with letting go of my constant attempts to date or to find a man.  I remember one therapy session where my therapist grabbed one end of a scarf, while I grabbed the other to tug of war, to symbolize the struggle I was having.  When she asked what happened if I let go, I got it, intellectually, that the struggle would be over.  But emotionally, I wasn’t there yet.

In the last two years since that last relationship ended, I’ve been voluntarily single.  Sure, I’ve had crushes, but what I used to do never worked, so I thought I’d try something different.  I’ve not made any attempts to date.  I haven’t gone online.  I haven’t given anyone my phone number.  I haven’t asked anyone out.  I haven’t asked friends to set me up with blind dates.  I thought that if a man becomes interested in me, that he will let me know.  Until then, I’ve got plenty to keep me busy, even if it never happens.  My daughter, my job, my family and community, my health, my reading, and my writing take up every possible moment of my waking hours, and some of my sleeping hours as well.

I’ve made some amazing discoveries by clearing out the space in my head that used to be taken up by a man.

First, I discovered that I really didn’t need to always be thinking about someone else.  I could put my writing in the back of my head–where I wanted to go with the book, or a blog post, or an idea for an article. The mental and emotional energy I used to spend thinking about how to take the next step in the relationship, or whether he was interested in me, or why he did the things he did, could instead be spent on something I had control over and was a productive, creative activity–my reading and writing.

It’s only been in the past month or so that I’ve been able to discern something else:  One of the reasons I had such a hard time letting go of the need to be looking for a relationship or in a relationship is because I’m fat.  Being fat and being single have always been intricately linked in my mind. I was always so boy-crazy and intent on finding a man because it was a way for me to belong and to be like everyone else. Being with someone, anyone, was a way for me to show the world that I wasn’t a freak, that someone would love me and that I could find someone to love, too.  I could accept my body at the size it is currently, but when someone else did, too, then that was something the world could believe.  The conventional wisdom is that if you’re fat, no one will love you or find you attractive, and you’ll be single forever. When I had a husband or a boyfriend, I was proving that conventional wisdom (including my Dad’s stepmother) wrong.

Intellectually, I know the conventional wisdom is not true. I see plenty of fat women around me who are partnered and seem to be happy in their relationships. I used to think to myself—why hasn’t that happened for me? Don’t I deserve that, too?

I’ve realized that I do deserve it.  But that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen.  So many things go into a successful relationship:  the timing, the chemistry, factors outside each person’s control.  I think I believed, but was afraid to admit that I believed that I was a loser if I was both fat and single.  I believed in size acceptance and accepting my body as it is, so that wasn’t going to change. So I had better be in a relationship if I wasn’t going to be a loser.

The pressure to be looking for someone is everywhere. Last week, when asked if I was joining a group farewell at a bar for a departing colleague, I told a co-worker that “I don’t do bars.” (a topic for another post)

“That’s how [a co-worker] met her man, don’t you want one?” she asked.

I told her that I didn’t, but that’s not exactly true.  After past relationships ended, I used to say to my best friend “I’m not going to date until my daughter is grown,” and when I said it, I would cringe and not believe I actually said it, like “Omigod how will I ever survive that long?” I always eventually started dating again, probably sooner than I should have.  This is the longest time I’ve ever not dated, and it’s good–I wouldn’t trade the things I’ve learned about myself when I’m not constantly thinking about someone else.

I think that the way I feel about it now is that I’m open if something were to happen naturally and organically, but right now, I’m not going to go looking for anything.  I’m going to try to not look at a man’s ring finger as soon as I meet him, but I can’t promise anything because old habits are hard to break.  I’m going to continue to live my life, fat and single and fabulous.  And if someone wants to join me, we’ll see.