Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Weight, self-image and art

I've never felt qualified to speak about body-shape and image, and the whole 'media is unrealistic' thing... I've been underweight my entire life, and always feel vaguely guilty saying anything expressing dissatisfaction with it.

But, 10 years and 25 pounds later, I have finally hit my pre-established 'ideal weight.' I weigh 140, am 5'8 and I look healthy. I have enough padding on my butt that my legs don't fall asleep when I sit in a hard chair, I don't get weak and bitchy if I go three hours between meals, and I can almost wear standard sizes. My hipbones and elbows are no longer classified as concealed weapons. Finally, my yearly exams don't come with the leading questions about throwing up to be thin.

I'm somewhat ecstatic about this, but I'm also a little unnerved.

Medically, I'm ideal.

Fashionably, not so.

I sit without perfect posture and lo! There is a little roll of flab at my belly. If I suck my head in just the right way I can almost make a double chin. If I poke my thigh, it wibbles! Wibbles!

(Since I don't need to gain another 25 pounds, I've already discontinued my bacon and ice cream diet, and I have 2 cookies instead of 12 if I want sweets. I'm also working out twice a week, but I do that more because I really like how it feels. (I MISS running.) )

I like where I am. I feel hot, and Jake thinks I'm hotter than I've ever been. I'm trying to resolve in my head the pressure to make the belly flab go away, to go back to non-wibbly thighs, with my sheer delight in the fact that I no longer have to carry food with me or risk passing out or coming unglued on some poor bystander. I love how healthy I feel and how much energy I have.

It's a weird dichotomy.

It also makes me think about all the perfect, waif-like figures we see in fantasy art.

Fairies with these fit little flat stomachs and waists that leave no room for internal organs. Tall, shapely elves with Big Boobs and long limbs, who still manage to be perfectly curvy, with no sharp hipbones or bony-looking elbows.

I'm so entirely as guilty of this as anyone else.

So last night, all of this swirling around in my head, I started a new piece of artwork:

I'm not even sure she really qualifies as meaty... but she's definitely plumper than any body types I'm accustomed to drawing. It struck me as natural that a sea creature would have a little padding - look at a lot of sea creatures: seals, walrus, whales... not a hipbone in sight! I still want her to look beautiful, if not our super model style of beautiful, and happy with herself.

It's kind of a tricky thing, being happy with yourself...