I am getting fatter.
I am not fat, not by a reasonable definition of the term. I don't need to go to specialty shops to find clothes in my size - heck, I'm still firmly in the Medium category; perfect strangers don't feel entitled to comment on my weight; my doctor doesn't give me shit about my size. However, I am fatter than I was this time last year, and it's still messing with my head.
There are three probable culprits for this (apparently) sudden weight gain:
1. I'm not exercising as much as I was last year, and I didn't exercise as much over the winter. I stopped dancing regularly when my dance partner and I broke up, and the winter was particularly harsh; it's hard to move when you're covered in blankets.
2. I recently got a new IUD. I used to have a Mirena, but because my uterus is super-tiny, I went with the Skyla, a smaller hormonal IUD designed specifically for nulliparous women, this time around. I suspect that either the sudden spike in hormones (the amount of hormones released by the IUD tapers over time, and I'd actually kept my Mirena in a year or two longer than I'm supposed to, so I was probably close to nil on hormones) or the slight difference in the hormonal cocktail has messed with my metabolism.
3. I'm getting older. Friends of mine who are in their thirties and forties have mentioned that they experienced a sudden change in their body shape in their late twenties or early thirties, almost like a second puberty.
Obviously, only one of these culprits is reasonably under my control, even though I suspect that all three are more or less equally to blame. I can't reverse aging, and I'm not willing to go through the rigmarole of finding a new form of birth control that works for me just because I'm getting a bit heavier. So all I can do is exercise more, which I'm mostly doing by getting a bike. I'm considering a few other activities as well; some friends have taken up swordfighting, which sounds awesome and would be a good workout. And I could get back into dancing, but it's harder without a more experienced partner to serve as a guide.
But, realistically, addressing only one of the three culprits probably isn't going to make that much of a difference. Even if I don't get bigger from here on out, I am probably not going to get much smaller, and this bothers me a lot more than I think it should.
Part of my feminism is being a strong proponent of "healthy at any size" and body-positivity in general. I think the diet industry is a scam that encourages women to misdirect their unhappiness inward, upon themselves, rather than recognizing the external sources of their hardship (i.e. patriarchal oppression). What's more, I like bigger women. I find that the type of woman who elicits the biggest "va-va-voom" gut reaction from me is a woman with extra padding, who would quite commonly be called "curvy" or even "chubby."
I don't like what it says about me that I'm happy to fuck a fat woman, but I'm not happy to be one. That tells me there's a bit of objectification or even fetishization behind my attraction. I'm okay with fat women being the Other, but not the Self. While I can talk a big game about loving one's body for what it does, not how it looks, obviously I have a lot of work yet to do on applying that mindset to myself.
As if I weren't being hypocritical as it is, it's not like I'm actually that big. Like I mentioned at the start of this post, I haven't even broached the Large category yet. I've gained only about 10 pounds, and I'm still in the "normal" weight range for my height. When I express dissatisfaction or anxiety about my size or my weight, I've been roundly scolded by friends who point out that I'm still much smaller than they are - friends who, not too long ago, I was beseeching to stop dieting because they don't need to subject themselves to that bullshit. And they're right. I really shouldn't complain.
And yet... and yet...
And yet, my body feels wrong to me right now. My belly pushes against the waistbands of my skirts and pants in ways it didn't just a few months ago. My thighs rub together now. I can feel the extra flesh on my body with every other step I take. When I look in a mirror, I get a little shock because the woman I see is not the woman that I expect. It's not the woman that's supposed to be there. It's almost a dysmorphia of sorts.
Not being able to fit into some of my clothes anymore makes me feel really shitty. Not only is it inconvenient - buying new clothes, particularly work clothes, can be expensive! So yeah, I really do hope that I'm able to lose a few inches from riding my bike. (That might not correspond with a loss of weight, which I'm okay with.) If that doesn't happen... I'll just have to learn to live with it, I guess. And buy bigger clothes.