Butch Wonders had a nice post a few days ago talking about body image and butchness and how that all ties together, and it melded with where my head’s been lately so I wanted to post a few thoughts. I am one of those who can’t separate my physical body from my perception of my own identity (I’ve met quite a few folks who can do this sleight-of-mind thing beautifully, though). It’s why I have moved away from my trans identity – back in the days when I was trying to pass, I realized that I just wouldn’t without hormone treatment, which I’m not into. And thus – I’d rather just deal with being female-bodied and butch than try endlessly to look male-bodied. My own compromise.
Where I get my brain into trouble is with my weight. A few years ago, I lost a lot of weight without really trying – just about 40 pounds. It was amazing, and spurred a whole new revolution in my wardrobe, moving me from oversized plaid shirt and cargo pants into slimmer cut trousers and shirts with vests and ties. Because I gain weight in my chest and stomach, I can’t wear men’s shirts that fit my shoulders unless I’m pretty slim, so it was great to get down to that level and back into clothes that made me feel powerful.
The debacle of the ridiculous musical put me in such a stressed out place that I gained some of this weight back recently, even though I had kept it under control for more than three years. I just defaulted into no exercise/bad eating/bad sleeping/bad stressing and three months later I’m carrying back 15lbs. Fifteen pounds of armor, and of particularly butch armor. My need to protect myself totally took over my body – my need to appear bigger and stronger than I am on a daily basis let itself settle around my belt. And now I’m in that limbo of ‘trying’ to lose weight, which makes me come to terms with how scary it is for me to really be thinner. Because then I have to face my female body in a different way. That my shoulders slope even though I’m pretty broad, and that my chest could crush a small island nation, despite the reduction surgery I had almost 12 years ago. That my eyes are distinctly feminine when my face thins out and makes them fuller. And that if I have my weight under control, then my acting career might actually start to be something more than just a wish and a website and a bunch of student loans.
I’m back on the eating plan with some tweaks to take into account that I’m older and tired-er now. I’m back to my interval training and even started doing some kettlebell swings again – muscle training that I love because it takes like one minute to wear yourself out.
Here’s to the struggle to become the body we want to be. If all goes well in 2 months I’ll be on track again, maybe a bit curvier but also back in my vests and ties and, along with the clothing, back in my self-confidence. Armor-free.