Whenever I accidentally bite my lip, my mom says (translated, roughly) "Don't you eat enough meat?" It's meant to be a joke, but as I get older and subsequently build up more fat around my body (through birth control and also having access to food delivery through a million different mediums and not regularly exercising via marching band rehearsals and performances) (lol at that last point), the sentence stands out. I never had the kind of toxic trans-generational femininity competition with my mother that so many more beautiful members of our species undertake; instead, she let me eat basically whatever, but then she and my dad would insist on getting me to exercise, move more. My sister and I would walk round and round the first floor of our house, listening to music sometimes even, in a bid to even out our caloric counts. In retrospect, what were we doing? What were we thinking? But that's how it works: you try, desperately, to defer something, but never in equal measure. It's not tit for tat, it's tit and tit and tit and tit and then you try the tat. What a crude analogy; it'll do.
Of course, this circling and other bouts of "self" "improvement" didn't actually do anything. I tried out for tennis in high school; our uniforms were skintight and a bright, sour yellow. Every other girl on the team (or at least, the ones I remember) looked like some citrine dream. I looked like a lemon that had puckered on the branch. Alas, I had nothing to show for all my (relatively speaking, I suppose) bulk, and being both weaker and bigger made me basically give the sport up. Once the joy bleeds out from a practice, you're left with a thing that sags in your mind like a wet sack.
Every now and then, I entertain the notion of, specifically, cutting meat out from my diet. But the thought doesn't actually come from any place of kindness or empathy for animals and the environment. Rather, I think that cutting meat out will make me skinnier. The phrasing is important: this isn't anything about health, but about body mass and the way that clothes cling and cut into places I wish they wouldn't, and how, after particularly heavy meals, I'll stand in profile, look in the bathroom or bedroom mirror, rest my hand on my distended belly like I'm channeling Demi Moore's Vanity Fair cover. How extra. How disturbing. How crude, all of it.
The desire (to be smaller) and the disgust (at my inability to be smaller, without any effort) usually "turn," in the sense that instead of actually resolving to change anything, I'll instead gorge myself. Binge -- the word is born from drinking, and on my darkest days, I remember all the times I tried to get into a liquid diet, and how easy I'd break from it and go back to tearing away at animal flesh, and feel a deep shame at not having been able to do "it" after all. No self-control, the quality that serves as the hallmark of most disordered eating, or maybe what I do is just the opposite of that, maybe the core of it all is actually just the opposite of what you'd think it is. "No self-control": over my body, which drives me and others to do what they do. Because we can't control our selves, we seek other ways to punish them, us. Some people find comfort in austerity, and others find it in decadence, decadence so thick and moist and juicy that you want to slice yourself open and relive the opulence once it's over. How demented is that. But also, how delicious. And as with all things, I chose the easiest way out, a way to tell myself I was both unwell while veiling what I was feeling with the sheer fact of all the doing I was, um, doing. I always ate slash eat. That was, and isn't, the problem.
I filmed this while I was already full, from eating the scraps that didn't make it into shooting. Afterward, I almost threw up, but I didn't, and then I started feeling sick.