I could be thinner.
I could have more muscle, and be toned, and have the sort of legs people stare at.
I looked like that, once.
Because back then, in Once Land, I wanted to be noticed, and did bold things like wear shorts and shave every day.
Back then, I was proud of my legs, and my posture, my six minute mile, and how long I could hold a note.
I wanted the world to think “Wow” when they heard my name.
But things change.
I’ve been told I would be pretty if I lost some weight, and I heard all the unsaid implications: I would be sexually desirable; people would be happier looking at me; they would take me more seriously; I am unlovable as long as I look this way.
“You’re full of shit,” I think, even as I wonder “but what if that’s true?”
“Maybe the people I’ve been interested in wouldn’t be so out of my league if I were thinner,” I think, and immediately hate myself, because I am worth more than the soft flesh I hide beneath over-sized T-shirts, and I know that thinking otherwise is playing into some toxic patriarchal idea of the perfect person, and I should punch myself for perpetuating it.
Those thoughts are poison. A poison which has already set in, and the only cure is dedicated, deliberate corrections, and they are so hard, so hard to internalize.
Because when I walk down the street, or into a store, or exist in public, I see other girls (thin girls, chubby girls who are fat in the “right” places, curvy girls) get cat-called.
And it fills me with rage on their behalf, because they don’t exist for someone’s viewing pleasure, and how dare those guys think otherwise, and yet-
It is a foreign experience for me. For a split second I am jealous of those girls, of the attention they receive, because their bodies look the way I wish mine would, because my curves are in the wrong places, because they were noticed and I never have been, because no one has ever looked at me and vocalized their immature, self-entitled, egocentric sexual desires onto me, and-
And fuck those guys for pulling me back into that poison pit. Fuck them for making me want that sort of attention for even a millisecond, for tricking me into feeling insecure and small and unworthy.
And that’s just it, isn’t it?
I know what I’m doing.
My appearance is all very strategic.
Because if no one notices me, no one will want me, and if no one wants me, then my head and my heart and my body are safe.
Safe from what?
From embarrassment, insecurity, vulnerability, rejection, from seeing a look of disgust cross someone’s face, from caring too much.
Maybe that’s why I always want the ones who are out of my league, because it’s safe, because I will never be able to reach that high and touch them, because when they are intangible then I will never have to fear them touching me, or telling me that my mind, my heart, and my body are too soft. I will never have to see the look of regret when they see me naked.
I already know all that.
It makes me safe from wanting to be someone’s forever, from feeling like I deserve to be a priority, from wanting to be someone’s number one, from getting my hopes up. But it also makes it so easy to feel like my flaws dictate my value, that I’m not deserving of affection because I don’t meet certain aesthetic requirements.
I know that’s a line of bullshit. I know that’s false. I know it can happen to anyone, no matter how they look. Because some of those things already happened to me. It doesn’t matter that my experiences are on a much smaller scale than other women I know. I’ve had a boy feel me up and stick his hand down my pants to grab my ass even after I told him no.
So no, trying to be invisible doesn’t work 100% of the time. In many ways it has, though. I’ve allowed the need to stay under the radar dictate how I interact with people I was interested in. I let it tell me to keep my mouth shut, to hold back, to sit and watch them notice and desire and choose other women. It’s no one’s fault. I don’t blame those other women, and I don’t blame those people for not noticing me in that way. I’m the one building and sustaining the anti-visibility barricades.
But as much as I want someone in my life I can depend on as a life companion, partner, significant other, I tell myself that I don’t deserve than until I have everything perfect, so that I won’t burden them with my debt, my emotional baggage, my physical body. Anyone who could ever think I’m worth their time deserves to have me at my best; I want them to have me at my best. I’m trying to give everyone in my life my best version of me, and it frustrates me when I’m not.