When I think of my dad continuing to smoke after being diagnosed with cancer, I think, "How much self-delusion did he have to swallow to keep smoking? Seriously."
How much? About as much as it has required for me to hit 242 pounds.
I know where the mirrors are in my house, so I haven't looked squarely at myself, naked, for five years. I have also avoided these clothed reflections: the three-quarter view, the profile, and the backside vista. I look wide from the front, sure, but not grotesque, I told myself. If there was any other presentation I just averted my eyes
However, the cruise cabin was filled with mirrors. The nasty type. The ones that catch you by surprise. The ones that make you think, "What is that fat woman doing in my cabin?" and then "Oh my god, that's me."
After catching a particularly unfamiliar side view, I roped Gary into taking a stark look at our weight. We faced each other so we were in profile in the big cabin mirror.
He lifted his shirt over his belly. I lifted my shirt over my belly.
I immediately realized the Boob-Belly Protrusion Ratio was not acceptable. Viewed from above, the rise of my belly seems to recede behind the nearer breast landscape, but viewed from the side I could see my bosom no longer enters the room first.
"Gah!" I said. Then I realized my belly was still in its natural semi-sucked-in state.
I let my belly sag.
And then I filled my belly with air so it would pooch out as much as possible, and then shortly after that I was in tears.
And that's why we've both begun new eating habits. I now realize that I have a certain level of ugly I can accept, and up till the confrontation with the mirror I thought I was on the edge of unacceptable. On top of that, my age puts me on the verge of wrinkles. (I've looked critically in the mirror and have seen several lines and gouges but only one wrinkle.) The wrinkles will keep me from looking too good. The wrinkles plus the fat will push me into an unacceptable level of ugly. I can't control the wrinkles: I can control the fat.
I had other things during the cruise that shot down my self-image. First, my black rubber shoes turned my feet black after I wore them into the Atlantic. We puzzled over what had happened until Gary came up with a theory. He announced that "the emulsifiers dumped into the ocean to control the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill have acted on the petroleum-based rubber shoes and the are disintegrating." It was a good theory, but internet research on my rubber shoes revealed they are actually leather. Gary's called them my rubber shoes so long I forgot what they were. Its been two weeks and the edge of my heels are still black. The shoes are an acceptable level of ugly: sort of a mottled grey.
I was ugly from toe to top because my hair reacted to the humidity as you'd expect: every hair curled onto itself and I looked like I was wearing a poodle skullcap. "I have PubeHead!" I complained one morning.
The worst was color day.
One day had been assigned "color day" in which each section of the boat had to wear certain assigned colors. The upper decks were red, and the red team did not give one solitary fuck about wearing their colors, except for perhaps the red bandannas the cruise organizers gave us for free.
I thought about wearing my red bandana over my hair, but I figured I couldn't pull it off. I still had it in my hands when I went out to the hall.
Migdalia, the towel folder for our room, wanted to know why we were not wearing our red. I weakly held up my bandana, which she took and said, "Here, I do your hair like black girl."
Awesome. Because white girl had not been working out for me. She wrapped my head into a tiny Aunt Jemima peak.
So, if I had been in the cabin I could have caught a glance at my appearance from bottom to top: black feet, thick legs, huge belly, breasts dwarfed by said belly, tiny peahead swathed in a red bandana with a tuft of poodle hair peeking out of the top. Not an acceptable level of ugly. Things must change.