I’m meeting (another) colleague for coffee today.
“Should I invite [additional colleague]?” she asked over email.
“Sure,” I replied. “But we’re going to [my favorite bakery], and as soon as anyone starts body-shaming, I’m leaving.”
These two women are nine and eighteen years older than me. They’ve talked me through sticky friend situations, problematic students, and minor career moves, and we have all spent an inordinate amount of time discussing the care of curly hair. They are smart and interesting, and I love them to death. However, sometimes they talk about aging, not about the “fuck people who can’t get out of their own way and fuck up your life” part of aging, where you get fierce and intolerant, but rather about the physical stuff.
“I don’t know,” J said. “I have potions and creams to keep back aging. I’m thinking about Botox”
“Maybe if I lost 25 pounds I wouldn’t need to dye my hair,” A said.
But you look at J, and she’s gorgeous, even with a few laugh lines. And A has had two children and is, to use a word she maybe even taught me, a little zaftig, the way my mother was. A is never going to be thin as a rail and J’s hair would probably turn an incandescent white if she let it.
Sure, I henna my hair and complain about the circles under my eyes. But there’s not a damn thing I can do about the rest of it. One thing about looking almost exactly like your sisters who are quite a bit older than you is that there is no doubt what you are going to look like in 15 years. There is no mystery.
But I’ll be damned if I’m going to sit in my very favorite bakery in the world and listen to them complain about their bodies. We work at a college, and in our little subset there has been a lot of talk about safe spaces for queer students. But I want to talk about safe spaces free from body shaming. The campus culture is a bit jock and a bit conservative. We work with a lot of young women, and I’ve seen disordered eating ravage colleagues and students alike. Those college kids are like sponges. They soak up their mothers’ complaints and the images they see online. And they are not getting any of that shit from me. As of now.
What bullshit are you going after today?