This book isn't about infertility, but when I read about the way the author, Stephanie Klein, viewed her body, it was impossible to not apply those same thoughts to infertility--the maybe-this-will-work and the internal punishments when it doesn't. The frustration of a body that will not perform as you wish despite hard work and your best efforts.
And, at the same time, I could take the story for what it was because it's a universal struggle--melding the image we wish to attain with what we actually have to work with.
There was a girl in college who was in our group who informed me one night that she ate anything she wanted by chewing and then spitting out the masticated food into a cup. It was her equivalent to chewing tobacco. She did it discreetly, but not privately. I mean, she sat at the table with us and chewed and spat into a plastic cup, participating in the conversation. She thought it was better than vomiting because it didn't bring with it all of the health risks from vomiting.
That night, I asked my boyfriend about it and he sort of shrugged it off. He thought it was weird, but he was so accustomed to it that he didn't really consider it. I remember lying awake in bed and wondering if eating disorders were so common that we didn't bat an eyelash at anyone who wasn't ending up as a story in People magazine.
I am always conscious of how I speak about my own body and how I speak about the ChickieNob's body (the Wolvog as well, but probably less so). How I speak about food and how we use food. It is a hard line to walk--knowing my words can influence her negatively, but will probably not be enough to influence her positively in the face of what she will encounter outside the house.
And it was both painful and wistful to be transported back to the middle school years through the book.
How did the author's weight transformation impact your view of her story (she looks quite svelte on the book jacket)? Did it give credence because she "conquered" her weight? Or did her story become more dismissible because she conformed to what society says looks good?
I was never bothered by the jacket photo but I'm also not one to be bothered that almost all infertility books are written by those who have moved on to parenting (even if they are still in the throes of family building). Writing about weight loss when you're in the throes of weight loss is sort of like trying to fight with someone when you're upset. You're going to have a clearer focus and a more persuasive argument if you're coming at it from a rational point rather than an emotional point, and people rarely lose their passion. It is more often the opposite effect--people keep their passion but gain rationality rather than find rationality when they're in the hold of passion. It is also the difference between a new artist and an older artist--who can still access the emotional content but who has gained the ability to examine a moment with retrospection.
And I found her in the perfect place for retrospection.
She's after the moment timewise, but it's at the surface emotionally due to her pregnancy. Seeing the journal entries was just enough of a taste to get the teenage Stephanie; and frankly, I'm not sure I could have handled or taken seriously an entire book by the teenage Stephanie. The adult Stephanie is a more likeable narrator, not dismissing or negating her former self, but also not keeping to the one note of "it's not fair."
Did she need to remain overweight to have insight into what it's like to be overweight? For me, the answer is no. But that's also because she never claimed to understand what it was like to be an overweight adult. By keeping a tight focus on youth, she doesn't make empty promises into holding a deep understanding of overweight adulthood. Though her body image from those formative years obviously comes into play even in adulthood.
Stephanie Klein writes "Years later I'd feel slightly superior because I'd once been fat. That's the thing...when asked if I'd change my past if I could, I think for a moment and always answer no. There's something...that just makes it mildly worth it. Because a sensitivity is tattooed on a part of you no one else can see but can somehow guess is there. It's always with you." How do you relate to this with regards to infertility?
If you asked me the same question about infertility--to not have gone through it--I'd probably answer the same thing. Because then I wouldn't have these children, these friends, this sensitivity. If you asked me the same question when I was starting fertility treatments, I probably would have answered differently. Especially if the change would undo the pain I was in. It's like asking someone if they wish they hadn't broken their leg after falling off a ladder. The obvious answer as they writhe on the ground would be "yes." But ask them the same question after the bone has healed and they met their spouse in the emergency room of the hospital and even if they have some lingering pain whenever it's about to rain, they'd probably tell you that they'd put up with that for all they gained from the experience.
Stephanie describes how she would picture herself slim, and how that image did not look like her at all. Did you/do you picture yourself slim and if so who do you model yourself on? Are you realistic when you imagine the slim you or do you picture someone you could never be like?
I imagine myself much lighter than I am. Someone took a picture of me right before my wedding that shocked the crap out of me. I couldn't believe that was what I looked like. It goaded me to exercise more and eat healthier, but all that went out the window with infertility. I haven't truly found that ground again and keep looking for it. I would like to be healthier--which does include some weight loss--but I lack the motivation. It's just strange to think of myself as thin and then see myself in the mirror.
Hop along to another stop on this blog tour by visiting the main list at Stirrup Queens (above this one). You can also sign up for the next book on this online book club: It Sucked, and Then I Cried by Heather Armstrong (aka Dooce).