Fillyjonk, Self-Image

Here to go

I live in a messy house. Not, like, hoarder messy, but clothes on the floor, unmade bed, craft stuff all over the living room, I could stand to do the dishes more often messy. I feel a little weird admitting this, because I’m sure some pop-psych frauds would love to theorize that my house is messy because two fat people live in it, and we are lazy and can’t take care of ourselves or our surroundings. In fact, the house is messy for several reasons, none of which are that we’re too busy shoveling donuts in our faces. One, I tend to spend so much time fretting about the state of the house that I have no time left for cleaning. Two, we both have other things that take priority. Three, I’m kind of lazy (I didn’t say the theoretical therapist was all wrong).

But the most important reason is this: I love my house, but I don’t expect to be there long. My boyfriend is finishing his doctorate, so at some point soon we’ll be clearing out for somewhere that he can do a postdoc. This means that, aside from the amazing-looking chunk of hollow tree trunk that I desperately want to go steal from the park even though it weighs 600 pounds, we try very hard not to acquire bulky possessions. For people like us, who have a lot of projects and no great facility for organization, the secret to basic neatness is to find all the places where stuff accumulates, and stick a container under them. But this requires a trip to IKEA to buy heavy, space-consuming shelves and bins and whatnot that we’d just have to move in a year, not to mention requiring us to completely overhaul a space we don’t intend to occupy for that much longer. And the more work we put into it, the more likely it is that I’ll get attached, making it difficult to leave — and while there are things about where we live that are perfect (we’re right next to the bike path!), I truly don’t want to stay in this area for the rest of my days, let alone in this house.

It’s not that I’m not excited by the idea of a moderately non-chaotic household, maybe even one with such things as art and decor and matching blankets that actually fit our bed instead of six different twin- and full-size comforters. It’s just that I want to feather a different nest. I know there’s a theory saying that effort you put into your living area is rewarded even if it’s temporary. People who say that kind of thing unpack their clothes in hotel rooms. I am not those people.

I don’t find this attitude particularly troubling, because it’s true — I really am in this house temporarily, and it’s worthwhile to think about the eventual move and plan around it. But I think a lot of people treat their bodies the same way, and that is a problem. It’s part of the Fantasy of Being Thin: “I may be fat now, but when I get my real body, then my life will begin. Then I’ll exercise and dance and dress beautifully and buy myself that fancy shampoo I like.” When I was younger, I even used to fantasize that I’d get sick and lose a bunch of weight, because I couldn’t imagine any other way to transition between my temporary body and my real one. I thought I could get a clean slate if I dropped catastrophic amounts instantly — and after that I’d have do-overs, and I could do things right this time. Meanwhile it didn’t matter what I did. I was just here to go.

But if you’re just marking time in your body until your new, perfect one comes along, through luck or dieting or illness or whatever, then you’re going to be terrifically disappointed — and worse, your metaphorical house is going to be a mess. You may think, “I’ll get those storage bins and put things in order when I make it to the new place.” You may think, “I’ll ditch this furniture and buy new beautiful stuff after the move.” You may not see the point in fixing the dripping faucet or the creaky stairs, or getting regular checks for termites and radon, or grounding the electrical system; surely none of that will matter when you move into your real, permanent home.

Of course you can’t actually break the lease. At some point you need to get over it, take your stuff out of boxes, and hang some art on the walls, because you’re not going anywhere. The metaphor’s getting strained, but here’s my point: You live in this body for good, so don’t treat it like a squat. Maybe it’s not your dream home, but it’s your home, and that will count for more the more love and effort you put into it. The environment you make there is the environment you’ll have to live in, so give it the care it needs and deck it out in your personal style.

You live in this body. Time to decorate.

59 thoughts on “Here to go”

  1. Thank you!! I’ve been thinking about this idea since reading ‘The Fantasy of Being Thin’ and didn’t realize how much I do that sort of excuse-making.

    And my husband and I just decided not to move out of our tiny, messy little house this year and save our money instead… so we’re actually thinking about putting some effort and money into decorating our literal house as well.

    Good post!

  2. As someone who has moved 10 times in 8 years this resonates with me. I have found that every move I made I have unpacked less and less. My boyfriend is finally putting his foot down after we’ve lived in this place for 10 months and doing all the stuff that I wont do. (Which, I think is pretty dumb since he’s unemployed and we’re probably going to have to move again in April because we can’t afford it. )

    But I do know people who do the same with their bodies. Though personally I can’t imagine abusing my body nearly as much as I abuse my temporary domiciles. I think your metaphor is perfect.

  3. Hee! I was just taking a break from cleaning my house, and read this.
    I, too am good at making excuses for not living my life to the fullest. At the moment, I’m spending most of my day fussing over my thesis, instead of actually finishing the damn thing. And all that fussing is making me crave lots of caffeine and chocolate instead of the usual herbal tea and oranges…

    So thanks, I needed someone to tell me to get on with it!

  4. Good analogy, fillyjonk.

    Just like we talk about “coming out as fat” where we quit waiting for that day we will have a new body and quit the whole dieting/body changing/fantasy of being thin thing, I decided to “come out as messy.” I’m messy. I have always been messy. I will always be messy. This isn’t different than normal, this is how I am. For me, out of site is out of mind, so a lot of things tend to stay in sight so I won’t forget I own them.

    It all boils down to THIS IS MY LIFE: right here, right now. I can waste it, or I can live it. It may not be my ideal, but it tends to be better than my mind makes it.

    I have to remember one really important thing about that someday I’m always trying to reach: “wherever you go, there you are.” I can change all the parameters, but I still have to be ok with me. I have a tendency to think that if that one thing changes, suddenly I’ll be a new me. It never works that way, though.

    Today, I’m me: messy and fat.

  5. *sigh* You know how to hit home, don’t you?

    We’ve lived in this house now for 6 months, and I have loads of unpacking left to do – which I haven’t done because it still doesn’t feel like we live here. (Not having the old house completely sold yet isn’t helping matters.)

    As for my body, a new purple cashmere sweater and a pair of ass-kicking boots say that I’m moving back in and decorating to my taste.

  6. I’m just now starting to feel comfortable in my body. These are my joints, no matter how badly they behave. This is my bum, big though it be. Growing my hair out doesn’t have to be an act of rebellion because there is no rule that says I should cut it. Glasses don’t make me ugly. It’s okay to be pale. And so on.
    Exercise (well, stealth exercise – I get quite a lot but it’s a side effect, not the reason for doing anything) has really helped. Knowing what my body can do and how to do it makes it easier to feel at home in it. It isn’t a stranger. It’s mine.

  7. Beautiful! Perfect analogy.

    I’m messy and fat too. But I just don’t care :p I’ve tried the organization thing, I’ve tried the minimalist thing (actually, I *am* a minimalist, but my husband and kids aren’t *sigh*). I’ll just be messy, at least until the kids are out of the house and the hubs gets too old to notice me throwing things out! Just like I’m fat and I’m gonna be. I don’t want to be thin really…I’d like to be healthier than I am, so I’m working on that, but I’m not made to be thin, it’d be too weird. I want to be me, thanks…just healthier!

  8. This hits home. To talk about things on a surface level — husband and I live in a second floor apartment. We plan to buy a home sometime in the coming years, not now, but not more than 2-3 years from now.

    And I want, really want, this place to feel like “home.” He resisted a bit: we’re only here temporarily and he doesn’t want to put too much effort into making this place look nice, since to him, it ISN’T “home.” But I just moved across the country a year ago; I desperately need a place to root myself, and this is what I’ve got.

    And you realize, you know, you’re never going to reach that mythical idealized place where you can do these things you want. I told H today, you know, I always figured I’d have kids “in a few years,” now it’s been a couple years, I’m thinking the same thing — and I realize now that I am never going to be READY to take these things on. I’m never going to reach that place where we’re financially comfortable “enough” for kids — you’ll always be able to do better. It just applies on so many axes…

  9. this was just what I needed today to feel better about spending money on a few really great pieces of maternity wardrobe.

    This really *is* my temporary body, but it’s home until June. And dammit, it’s a pretty great place to be for now.

    (and it needs to be taken out someplace nice in the cutest not-so-little black dress I found)

  10. In the same way that I inherited my body from my parents, I inherited my sloppiness from my (then thin) mother. But I did spend a whole day cleaning yesterday. It was a lot of work, but so worth the effort. The same is true of living in my body. Being in it is sometimes a lot of work, but worth it every time.

  11. Good analogy, fillyjonk. I’ve moved frequently in my adult life, and will again soon – I’m also working on my PhD, and spend 4-6 months each year doing fieldwork out of the country. For years I used that as an excuse to not get too attached – to my house/apartment, to the city/town/region where I was living, to people, but the folly of this became apparent after a while. My body also goes through annual changes – I always lose some weight when I’m in the field b/c I’m extremely active – which makes it more difficult to accept my body as it is, because I know it will be different in a few months. But I always regain weight when I return to office work, and always will, and am beginning to accept my body at all points within its natural range.

  12. One, I tend to spend so much time fretting about the state of the house that I have no time left for cleaning.

    Once again, we were so totally separated at birth.

  13. You live in this body for good, so don’t treat it like a squat.

    Love it.

    I decided to “come out as messy.”

    I have sort of done this, and it feels good. I mean, I have two people and two cats in a one-bedroom apartment with more books than the shelves can hold — it will always be messy. I’ve stopped apologizing for it when people come over and started just warning them: hey, it’s messy in here, just so you know. And you know what? No one has run screaming from my apartment.

  14. fj, so much of what you said are things I have thought myself, right down to the “if I could only start out thin, then I wouldn’t ever get fat” sort of thinking.

    Of course, when I do de-clutter my messy house 1) I can’t find anything, and 2) I mess it up again in a week. But I do spend a lot of time thinking about it, the same way I used to think about all the great bikinis and bras and hot sexy jeans I would buy when I was thin.

    Like a few others up the thread, I am a messy fat person. I just need to accept it. I am alright with the fat most of the time, but the messy is a hard one.

  15. I’ve been thinking the last few days about living in my body, how life is experienced and memories held in the body… it’s sounds sort of hippy-dippy, I know, but it’s also part of some of my academic stuff (phenomenology), and also something I see in some of the fiction books I’ve been reading lately.

    Anyway. Point is that it’s my body, that I will always experience my life from within it, and I deserve to enjoy it — it’s not like I’ll get to trade it in for a new one.

    I feel better when my house is clean, but I’m also trying to learn to relax and live with it when it isn’t. It’s actually been coming hand-in-hand with the fat acceptance…. who am I responsible to? (me) Do I care that I am fat/that my house is messy? (no) Am I enjoying my life as it is right now? (yes) Then why the overwhelming urge to “improve, improve, improve,” at the expense of my own enjoyment and happiness? (Uh…..)

  16. Man, if being lazy (and therefore messy) and having issues with being found sexually attractive were what made people fat I’d probably weigh twice what I do now. Same goes for eating junk food.
    I think all that’s left for me to do is eat lots of cough drops.

    And as a thin person who very rarely takes proper care of herself, I’ve got to say, there’s always something. I don’t have the time, or the space, or the right things or the right attitude or the right weather…but even if one thing changes, there’s always something else. There is never the right time, except for the one I make by saying “it’s right now.”

    I’ve never had serious issues with the way I look, but for a long time I still didn’t feel good about my body. When I was little, I did gymnastics for years. I loved that I was strong and flexible and could do so many things with my body. And then in middle school I stopped, because of a miscommunication between my parents and myself, but I never did get started again, and nothing really replaced it.

    So of course I lost most of that strength and flexibility. And while most of my peers continued to grow, I basically stopped in 7th grade (I mean, literally. I weigh all of 5 pounds more than I did in 7th grade. I might be half an inch taller). So I was this tiny, weak nerd girl. I felt extremely vulnerable and pathetic, and of course lazy.

    And it’s only really in the past year or so that I’ve gotten serious about reversing that. I’ve found a series of exercises I can do in my room with little more than free weights, and while I am still kind of half-assed about it, it’s much better than no-assed. It is just wonderful to feel good about what I can do with my body again.

    Also reading this post totally inspired me to actually do the workout I meant to have at 4 today. Thanks fillyjonk!

  17. If “fat=messy=fat,” then by all rights I should have been a much better housekeeper before antidepressants, when I was much thinner. Just ask all the disgusted roommates I had who moved out on me or threw me out back then if that was true or not!

    It’s my theory that “yes people” tend to be messier than “no people.” “No people” have no trouble getting rid of things or not taking them in in the first place, saying, “No, I don’t want or need that anymore, or ever. No. No. No.” But damn it, “yes people” are a lot more fun! I remember a friend (who was quite thin and VERY messy) trying to make some order out of the chaos in her apartment, and she kept running into things like stickers she had saved that were really cute, old postcards and pictures people had sent her, bottles with just a little tiny bit left of that really cool-smelling oil she didn’t know if she’d ever find again, etc. I couldn’t really blame her for not having gotten rid of any of it before.

  18. I love this analogy.

    I struggle with years of habits that are the result of waiting to not be fat. So many of my clothes are things that I bought because they were good enough for my fat body. They don’t look great, sometimes they aren’t particularly comfortable, but I considered them fine since I didn’t need to worry about learning to dress myself as I was…since I was gonna be thin and dance with unicorns and stuff. I’m slowly building a real wardrobe, but it’s expensive.

    Hell, and this is total TMI, but I realized not so long ago that I don’t even exist in my own body in my sexual fantasies. Like even in imaginary sexland, my body is just totally unacceptable.

  19. Right on – I find that I stress about my house in kind of the same way that I stress about my body…it’s not perfect, and what will everyone think? But you know what? I believe that the whole emphasis on keeping the package “pretty” which our culture perpetuates on our bodies and our housekeeping is a way to keep women enslaved to the patriarchal system. I mean, who has the time or energy to take on the world when you’ve got a house to keep perfect and a body to starve until it’s skinny? It’s radical to defy the culture’s dictum that thin = beautiful, and it’s radical to say, yo, I’ve got better things to do with my time than to make my home conform to some imaginary standard of cleanliness or order.

  20. I believe that the whole emphasis on keeping the package “pretty” which our culture perpetuates on our bodies and our housekeeping is a way to keep women enslaved to the patriarchal system.

    Denise, right on. One of my best poetry teachers said that a transformative moment in her writing came when she got to meet with and get feedback from a Famous (woman) Poet. She was ready to hear technical details about her writing, philosophical pronouncements, what have you. When they met, the Famous Poet leaned in, looked her in the eye, and pronounced in an oracular tone, You don’t have to have a clean house. My teacher said it changed her life!

  21. You live in this body. Time to decorate.

    I’m glad everyone else was profound and deep-thought-y tonight, because I read the whole post nodding my head, “yep, yep, yes.”

    And then I read that line and thought, “You know, FJ is right, I really should get a tattoo.” :-)

  22. Then why the overwhelming urge to “improve, improve, improve,” at the expense of my own enjoyment and happiness? (Uh…..)

    This was a perfect comment to a great post. I’m just slowly learning to think more “Would this make me happy” rather than “what would others think” or even “will this make me something I’m not but think I SHOULD be?”

    I have to admit that I’m more on the neat side of the spectrum though….umm maybe to the anally neat…okay fine. I’m the one who unpacks at hotels…the minute after I get in the room ;)

    The thing that really struck a chord for me though was the “Clean Slate” thing. I always used to wish I’d get like a wasting famine or something (sick in the mind, I know) with the thought that, (like with any extreme diet) I would GET to that magical skinny point and then VOILA! Magic faerie will slap my ass and food will be easy to handle and I will never gain an ounce cause after all that dieting I mean I MUST have gained SOME good habits right? RIGHT!?!? Yeah so its hard to let go of the fantasty of ever having a clean slate. Like wishing debt would go away so you can start over, wishing my fat away has never done any good so I’m here to live in my chubby cubby and enjoy every tasty minute… :D

  23. A couple disconnected thoughts:

    1. I read about that stupid book on Unclutterer, a site I normally like because they emphasize that the American obession with consumption causes more than just unsightly clutter, it is bad for many other reasons as well. I think one could make the same point about over-food consumption, but I’m thinking more along the lines of “gee, eat healthy, not 6 liters of Mountain Dew per day.”

    2. It is freaky for me know because after horrible trauma from moving out of a house I LOVED and nested in a crazy amount and dealing with the clutter for that and moving into an apartment half as big…I’m consciously trying to focus more on my actual body and not just the space I live in. So basically, I need to work out more and eat less junky crap.

    3. I love this site, and this is my first comment! FJ, KH and SM– I adore what you do!

  24. I read the analogy and nodded all through it. I lived for years with that dream of one day magically having the thin body and then I could start caring for myself, wearing attractive clothes and getting my hair done. At 58, it’s more acceptable to be fat, as long as I don’t compare myself to Jane Fonda. I’ve given up the magical dream and I have begun to enjoy dressing the body I have.
    However, the other day I noticed something. I had a list of housecleaning jobs to do but also on my list were a bath, shampoo, shaving, creaming and powdering. But I didn’t do it until all the house was clean. And as I sat in the tub, I realized that I always put myself at the end of the list. It was once the list of work and kids and house and then me. My kids are grown, but if they need me, I’m still on the bottom of the list. I think it harkens back to the idea that everyone else deserves it but fat me deserves to be the drudge.
    So, good on ya messy folk!

  25. Amen, Fillyjonk!

    Two years ago, I never thought about decorating me. I was mired in a depressive spiral and headed downward.

    Then a beautiful woman at the Dickens Fair in San Francisco coaxed me into trying on a gorgeous cloak made by a wonderful designer…and all at once I saw how beautiful I was. Not how beautiful I could be if I got thin, but how great I already looked, and how happy it made me feel to know that.

    It broke me out of the ugly headspace I’d been in for so long. And when I discovered last year that the designer (Steven Overstreet, for those keeping track) needed another salesperson, I asked for the job, got it, and gained no end of confidence back.

    This season, I worked for him again and finally bought one of his dresses. It’s freaking amazing and I know I own the world when I wear it. If I lose a bit of weight or gain a little, who cares? I have my perfect gown now. I can go out looking like a goddess right this instant if I want to. It’s the perfect color, the perfect length, the perfect cut, and the lowest damn neckline I’ve ever put on my body…and when I put it on, I take no prisoners.

    Everyone should have a piece of clothing that does that for them. If you don’t have something like that in your closet, go out and find it today.

    Now if I can just decide on the new hairstyle I want to get. But it’s all a matter of making the final choice.

  26. So true. The trouble is that I think we can get pushed in that direction – I find that other people talk about how much better things will be when we lose weight. ‘When you lose that weight …’ (as someone close to me is fond of saying) implies that my life will be better when I lose the weight, and that I WILL lose the weight. But I know it’s more than possible that I will never lose the weight, and I’d much rather think of what I want in my life now, at this weight.

  27. You know what, you’ve inspired me both to buy cute clothing that fits (which I have been putting off until I either lose the 20 pounds I’ve put on since going on birth control–in which case I wouldn’t need new clothes, the old ones would fit again, but which doesn’t matter since this is not happening and I’m not even trying anymore–or I get a job interview), and to care about my shithole apartment. Yes, the apartment is a shithole, but it could be less of a shithole if I tried to keep it marginally livable. My body, on the other hand–and everyone else’s body–is not a shithole, and we all deserve cute clothing that fits.

    I am going to go about this kind of counterproductively, though. Because some of the “cute clothing that fits” that I’m going to buy is in fact going to be yarn that will later become sweaters but in the meantime will be more clutter in my living room.

  28. I woke up with a splitting headache that refuses to go away, it feels like a million things have gone wrong at work and it’s only 8:45am, and I wish I were home in bed. Your message is empowering, and I’m feeling a bit better now that I’ve read it, so thank you. I love the house-body analogy. :) I’m really starting to appreciate what I have– bumps, lumps, curves and all!

  29. As someone who has lived for 11+ years in a house that had nothing updated since 1975 at the time we moved in, I can relate to this.

    It would cost me about $20K just to get the house into shape to sell, if I had to sell. We never wanted to take equity loans for improvements, so we’re doing things as we can. I too am a crappy housekeeper because I’d so much rather do other things.

    But the clothes thing resonates. I realized this winter that I haven’t bought clothes in years other than sweaters and leggings because I’ve been waiting for a body that probably will never come. I’m also tired of buying cheap crap that doesn’t hang right and wears out in a year. So I’ve been prowling the clearance sections of Coldwater Creek and J. Jill and Travelsmith, looking for large-size petites in decent fabrics. I’m going to spend about $1000 in new clothes and I don’t care about the cost. So there. :)

  30. Messiness is really a sign of perfectionism. It’s not worth it if I can’t do it “right”- so why bother? (I do subscribe to FLYLady online- she “gets it.”)

    It’s been a difficult thing for me to move on this concept- our small (1200 sq ft) home with 6 people (2 adults 4 kids) gets frequently overwhelmed, especially with clothes and kid stuff. It is a constant endeavor to keep it together. I can walk thru each and every room of my house and make a list of 12 things I’d like to do to update and decorate- but not enough hours in the day or ducats in the bank vault. Trying to contain my perfectionism and do what I can for my family, myself, and my home is the goal each and every day.

  31. Saw this on the front page of WordPress and had to read about another person who lives messily. (Is that a word?)

    Messy ‘cuz you’re fat? Don’t pop-psychos watch those organization shows? Seriously, when I was skinny I was a slob, now I’m fat and I’m much more organized. (I didn’t say “neat” because I have four kids–anyone who’s neat and has four kids needs a psych, or else their kids will.)

    This was really great. I liked your insights. Glad I read it.

  32. I overhauled my room a week ago, threw out two trashbags of clothes, ditched my jewelery, found a place for my instruments, did all my laundry, VACUUMED, the whole bit.
    This morning I wake up to remember that I’ve been sorting out my filing cabinet and it is ALL OVER THE FLOOR!
    Moral: It never ends, but you should try to keep up or it gets worse

  33. Joe, expensive stuff on sale is not cheap stuff.

    We do not have a “there are no stupid questions” policy here, just so you know.

  34. FLYLady is pretty cool and has a lot to offer. I just went over and visited the site. I wondered about the “Body Clutter” thing. Does it support FA? Is it written from a health at any size perspective?

    She says in her blurb that it’s about mental clutter. I can’t really tell if FLYLady is helping her FLYBabies release their mental clutter, “keep it off”, and enjoy their bodies as they never have before, or if she is helping her FLYBabies change the mental clutter in order to “release” the “body clutter”, “keep it off and FLY like never before”. It’s worded in a way that obscures the meaning for me.

    She’s pushing her book, Body Clutter, pretty hard. It’s announced in bold at the top of the page.

  35. “You live in this body. Time to decorate.”

    Fillyjonk, I have just written this on my hand. THANK YOU, it’s just what I needed, and I’m so grateful to you for articulating and posting this!

    I’ve been trying to toss that box marked “SHAME” my entire life, but somehow it gets tied on top time every time I load up the truck and I *move*to*Bev*er*ly…

    figuratively, that is… ; )

  36. Hey, whmsy, you might want to try to figure out a slightly less obvious way to blogwhore. I recommend making really delightful comments in other blogs so that people click your name to find out what else you have to say. I know it sounds a lot subtler than just going “oh hai I wrote a post too,” but it actually works.

  37. fillyjonk, this post is wonderful.

    My partner and I did the postdoc thing, which means moving every year or two for a while, and about five years into that there was a wonderful day when we decided to get cats, realising that if we waited for The Right Time we’d be waiting forever.

    …I think I’m going to get my ears pierced and buy loads of pretty sparkly things.

  38. Fj, cheers for this! I’m very similar about our place (there is probably craft stuff in every room, and as for piles of books…don’t ask!). Lazy – check. Other more interesting things to do (art, guitar, ‘cello, sax, writing, photography) – check. Worrying so much about whether it will ever be ‘perfect’ that I procrastinate – check. Throw in there a little rebellion against the family rule that makes it a woman’s #1 joy to obsess about everything being squeaky-clean, matching and bought new last Thursday, and you just about have it.

    But, as well, one of our things is that we don’t really like where we are. That applies on all levels. Not really keen on the house – our landlady’s eyes started flashing pound signs back when the housing boom got really crazy, and we found literally, perhaps, the last place in the area we could sensibly afford on both our salaries. Not hot on the area – I’m in a village, which I find a little too insular and conventional; I really feel more of an urbanite. And ultimately, not really keen on staying in the UK, but we have yet to work out the mechanics of how we can emigrate to the US. At the moment, we are – me and the hubby – living with the imperfection and appreciating what’s here right now that we can appreciate.

    As far as ‘decorating’ the body I have goes, laziness and again, rebellion against that ‘it’s what girls spend most of their time doing’ mindset – Denise, I’m so with you there! – is a biggie. It’s something I like to be able to do when I feel like it, not something that’s obligatory every day of my life. I’m casual about 90% of the time (work included), and dressed up to the nines the other 10%. And my kind of ‘dressed up’ is more of a hippy/goth/boho kind of look anyway. I still don’t feel I do ‘sophisticated’ very well, but the time in my life when I did – I had about a decade when I did actually wear little black dresses – it didn’t really feel like I was being me.

    Tricia, tattoos were actually my turning point a few years ago. It was the realization that a) these arms are never going to be any thinner, b) BUT they are absolutely fine to show the world as they are now – and inked too! And c) this is MY body and it’s MY decision as to what I want to do with it. I say if you know you want them, go for it! :)

  39. Emerald: Oh, I know I want ink. I have for a long time. I’m just horribly indecisive about what I want the first one to look like. And also, I’m a bit of a chicken.

    But I have a good friend who’s a fine tattoo artist, and I should just go over and have her help me out.

  40. Back in the day when I worked at LB, it used to piss me off to no end when women would come in, look about furtively for a while, and then say something like: “Can I just tell you how embarassed I am to be shopping here? I mean I really don’t want to invest in myself at this size… I’ve been looking through the clearance section, and it’s just so picked over…I just don’t understand it!”
    I’d think: well darling, clearance is picked over because it’s CLEARANCE. If you want to look nice, you’re going to be effing INVESTING.

    When they met, the Famous Poet leaned in, looked her in the eye, and pronounced in an oracular tone, You don’t have to have a clean house. My teacher said it changed her life!
    Dude… that’s heavy. Thanks SM & FJ

  41. That was an amazing post. I am the same way – both with my house and my body. The apartment, I’ve lived in for 4+ years and it’s still “temporary”, it’s still furnished with cheap junk I don’t like. The body, 28 years and still furnished with hand-me-down baggy T-shirts and at-home-type haircuts and sneakers instead of heels. I guess I need to move forward on both of those – get rid of the crappy kitchen table and get something beautiful, get rid of the T-shirts and wear a fabulous sweater, skirt, and heels. Get rid of the idea that I have to wait for someday to make things nice and just do it now.

  42. So I’ve been prowling the clearance sections of Coldwater Creek and J. Jill and Travelsmith, looking for large-size petites in decent fabrics.

    Jill don’t forget Eddie Bauer, Land’s End and L.L. Bean. All have petites up to 18 (which I’m pretty sure includes you, iirc).

  43. Oh shit, here I thought I was messy BECAUSE I was fat… turns out it’s the other way around! Thanks Oprah!

  44. I’ve never read the book Body Clutter, but I do receive most of the emails from FLYLADY and the associated Yahoo groups. While they can be a bit cutesy, twee and “rah rah” for my tastes when I’m having a particularly cynical day, she doesn’t seem to push being a skinny person to be happy. I would be really surprised if her book were written from a “the number on the scale is all that matters” perspective. I don’t think she’s a size zero, and it doesn’t sound like she expects everyone else to be one, either.

    And by the way, if weight loss is supposed to have any effect on neatness, I should be demanding my money back. That forty pounds I lost didn’t do a THING for this mountain ‘o’ crap on my desk…

  45. Yeah, and I was a lot neater when I still had the Lexapro weight.

    Of course, I was also still on Lexapro… hm.

  46. I have always decorated every place I’ve ever lived.

    But I did it for different reasons.

    I wanted my apartment/townhouse/house to be a place I loved being. There is so much disarray all around me at work, so much stress, that I have to have organization, color and texture at home.

    Works for me.

    And I’m fat. My skinny girlfriend is messier than a frat boy.

  47. I decorate and paint everywhere I live – I like to be in places that feel good to me, and I like nice surroundings,and I’m happiest at home.

    I also unpack my clothes in hotel rooms the minute I get there. Hmmmm. At least I still eat babies.

  48. I can relate, both regarding my home (my temporary living situation has gone on for years now, yet I haven’t put a single picture on the walls, bought new bedroom furniture, or even completely unpacked) and my body (I’ll do this fun thing or wear that great dress when…). Thanks for the much-needed reminder to live *now*, rather than someday.

  49. this hit me so hard, I feel like crying. I do feel like I don’t have a real body. And I need to stop this way of thinking!

    “time to decorate” hee :)

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