the fittest

I hate cards that have animals dressed up in human clothes. When looking at them, or rather when they are looking at me, I often feel mocked. As if my intelligence is so low that something like a pink hoodie on a little cat is funny. Or a dog driving a convertible car with a blue tooth attached to his ear. Or worst of all, a white cat licking a multicolored snow cone with its tongue a lewdly tinted purple. I hate those cards.

Then I think to myself, why does it even matter? If someone finds peacock-feathered hats on wide eyed tabby cats entertaining, who am I to judge? As I look at the cards I can’t help but wonder though, what has become of this world? My boyfriend and I were talking last night about humans. Whether they run the course like the rest of the animal kingdom. Pure survival of the fittest. Get your genetic code into the next generation before you kick the bucket.

I had these morbid thoughts yesterday as I stood at my father’s grave. His body had died twelve years prior. Was placed inside a large steel or hardwood box, with perfectly pleated side panels of fabric. Lain in the beautiful, morose basinet. Suited in his dark gray suit, more make-up than I had ever worn, and then placed in the ground to rot. Had my dad “survived” or was he simply not the fittest?

The term fittest has taken on such a different life today. It is a picture of a supremely tan woman with water dripping off her body as she walks out of the ocean. A thin woman with some muscle tone to her. Pretty sure she never had a baby to spread her genetic code. But somehow she is the fittest. It’s because her eyes stand out, or the bone structure of her jaw is just so. Her “fitness” if you will, is defined by beauty. Money, clothing, knowing the who’s who. It’s much like that song “Rockstar” by Nickelback. “We’ll all stay skinny cause we just won’t eat.”

But isn’t part of survival eating? For five years of my life I struggled with this concept. My idea of the fittest was thin legs, moderate bust, flat stomach, big eyes and perfectly long hair. Where had this ideal come from? I was raised to eat food in excess. Food was made for you out of love and thus is should be consumed in love. In big huge, hamburger casserole to feed 10,000, love. My genes, the very genes I am trying to pass into the next generation, used those extra calories to store on my stomach, hips, arms and butt. Evolutionarily speaking, this makes perfect sense.

A female human is designed to protect its offspring. We naturally gain weight around the belly in order to provide a safe and well cushioned womb for a fetus to develop. I took this protective barrier to mean that I was not the fittest. I ate when emotion took over me. And when sadness about my unfit body would arise, I would eat 10 marshmallow bunnies covered in chocolate. Or a half a pizza and some icecream. I am one of the “lucky ones” as Charles called me yesterday. I could pretty much eat whatever I wanted and still look good. Heck, I stayed below 160 lbs which is something many woman dream of getting “down to” on their Weight Watchers goal. But it wasn’t what I wanted.

Around freshmen year of college, I heard a girl throwing up her food in the bathroom. I don’t know why but somehow this was some sort of self-destructive epiphany for me. I could go ahead and eat the way I was, but then throw it all up. Somehow, hearing a girl “take care of business” so to speak was all I needed to go forth in a new life. My bulimic life.

Living every day distrusting yourself to eat the right thing, or the right amount, or exercise long enough is quite exhausting. It’s like trying to balance a scale that has two-fold the amount placed on one side than the other. I would count calories, take diet pills, work out, read all the nutritional guidelines on boxes. Yet the dissatisfaction of what I looked like, the constant reminders that I just wasn’t good enough, memories of a guy saying “ugh, not that” when I was a freshman would haunt me. I loved the taste of oreos, I loved ice cream sundaes, and how happy did I get with a twix bar?

Sadness was what drove me to eat. I really don’t know why I channeled it into that. I believed I could not control myself, so I just let myself give into it. I had the new solution anyway – just throw it up. The human body is amazing in what it can do. The human brain is even more amazing at how screwed up it can get. I had figured out how long to wait to throw up so that it didn’t hurt. What types of foods were easiest and least gross to throw up. Even ways to throw up so that it didn’t make a lot of noise.

Where had this newfound craft come from? To make matters worse, I wasn’t even losing weight. I still looked at the magazines, dreamed about the size four jeans and longed for that waif look that suggested you might not ever eat. What will power those women had that didn’t eat!

If hearing a girl throw up turned a new leaf for me in a matter of minutes, my next chapter in life had a bit less dramatic of a debut. It was slow to develop and true freedom didn’t ever really come until I was able to believe I was beautiful. In this world that cradles me to sleep every night with lies of fitness and success.

Creeping into my view was someone who was too busy changing lives to eat an entire pan of brownies. Someone who could turn a guy’s head and I wasn’t a size 2. I was a size 10 and still kind of hated my body. But someone else didn’t. And that made a difference. I guess having a boyfriend let me know that I had something going on. That I was more than brains and smiles. And that my curves were amazing.

In the same way that I hate cards with annoying animals on them, I hate the magazine covers with annoying models on them. Both of them insult my intelligence. One posing pets as if they are more than just domesticated animals, the other posing humans as if they are perfectly bred pets. I don’t like that society has become more than just survival of the fittest…getting my genes into the next generation. It’s a much trickier game…and I don’t like feeling stupid when I get burned by the rules and am told that I just can’t win.

© 2011 D. Willson

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