THE SKINNY LITTLE BITCH PROJECT: Let The Right One In
The Skinny Little Bitch Project is a biweekly feature dedicated to examining the role of weight in celebrity culture and the impact of size in one woman’s daily life. The entries may be triggering should you suffer from an ED or body image issues. For more info on the project, or to read it from the beginning, please go here. This is not a health plan we are endorsing, we do not promote dieting and hope this project will increase awareness. Please read at your own risk.
The week that was had been a perfect storm and me, I spent a fair amount of the time in its eye marveling at the exquisite wrath of nature as it swirled around me. If that sounds dramatic, that’s because it is. It is also, believe me when I say, completely appropriate. At the start of last week, I knew things were going to get busy, maybe even crazed, but I didn’t think they’d leave me gazing over any sort of internal precipice of my own limitations.
But I guess life is funny that way.
This Saturday, a play I had written in the wake of being rejected by a man I was quite sure I loved, opened at the Connelly Theatre in Manhattan as part of the International New York Fringe Festival. While in no way being a play about him and I, the feelings that drive the plot and the desperation expressed by many of the central characters, owe a debt to that time in my life, a handful of a year past now, where the idea of ever not having a broken heart again was inconceivable to me. When your heart breaks the idea that you’ll ever be fine again – even if it’s happened before – is just not comprehensible. Your brain tries sending your heart messages, but that weird muscle is dumb in its insistence, and childlike in its selfish need and stubborn refusal to see that it can’t just have what it thinks that it wants.
Origins aside, the production process had been an incredibly happy, if high-pressure time. As we crept into the week of the play’s opening, I was surprised in spite of myself by the speedy time-vacuum we had entered: no going back. No theatre production occurs without its share of hurt feelings and well-orchestrated detentes, artistic and otherwise, but I felt so fortunate – feel so fortunate – to have gone through it all with a team of actors and theater-makers whose love for the project and for the team steering it, was so earnest and plainly felt.
It has been my quest as an artist to be as honest as I can be, and that is a terrifying thing. If I’m writing something and I’m not scared, I know it’s worthless. As we grew closer to Friday, and closer to putting that scary story from my guts up on a stage, I got even more, well, afraid.
My fearfulness is not my best quality. It doesn’t jive with the other elements that comprise my personality. It is a source of frustration for my friends. One of my fellow-producers and a dear friend has grown exasperated with my sense of terror. She views it as a white flag, as surrender to failure before we have even had a chance to succeed. She’s not wrong, it’s dangerous to be afraid sometimes, especially when being bold is how your art is made. Being scared keeps you from advocating for your own work, in this case, your own play. The thing is, and it’s something it took me three years of grad school and three years of real life living to learn – if you are too afraid to stand up and say that you believe in something and that you love it – and mean it – you are in effect telling the world at large that it is okay for them to not take your work seriously. And if you are giving the universe permission to dismiss you, all that bravery quietly practiced at home in front of a computer screen is for absolutely nothing.
It’s a lesson I’ve learned with my art, but not one I’ve learned in my private life. As the middle of the week arrived, so did multiple friends from out of town, and – because of course there was not enough stress in my life- so did my period. While I’ve worked very hard to make the voice that says I am not awesome and not worthy of love or attention a secondary or silent voice in my head, and instead have tried to replace it with the voice that says this – it still isn’t always my first impulse, especially when I feel myself pulled in a million different directions. With a personal play going up, friends to keep entertained, and cramps like whoa, it was easy to fall into the trap of treating myself the way I would never treat my work – like how I was seen was up to other people, and that if they found me wanting they were probably right.
In the face of this, and in the spirit of our little project, I opted not to listen.
Instead, I made the decision not to weigh myself this week – keeping myself away from any sort of menstrual bloating induced weight gain panic. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday – I felt my unease growing, and it made itself manifest. I got great news, but a fall down a flight of stairs and a cracked phone sent me reeling to an unhealthy degree. It became clear to me that I wasn’t treating myself very well, so I made a decision to stop that. I also made the decision to put on a red dress and do my hair and makeup and walk around this planet on the opening night of the show we had worked so hard to create like I was someone to contend with, like I was just as great as my friends and family earnestly insist that I am..
By the end of the night, I believed them.
It was a strange and relatively new feeling to find myself inspected and appreciated visually – ha that sounds so clinical! What I’m saying is that when I believed I was hot it seemed like other people did too. The week had been tough, but the possibilities in my future were making me vibrate and I wanted to share that. For one night I managed to completely shut off the voice that insists that no one will ever find me desirable, and instead I believed that I was. It was a strange development, one I hadn’t counted on feeling given how I’d struggled during the week.
On the cab ride home that night clutching flowers in my lap and feeling maybe like a movie star I kept the window down and recited the How They Met stories of some of my dearest friends and their significant others – upon request- like they were incantations. Then, I wondered out loud to my cab-sharer, if they knew the moment when that person was going to be a part of their life forever, or if the stories they all held up as testimony to this was just a moment selected with the hindsight years of being together allowed.
These friends in relationships all talk about how in order to be in a relationship that makes you happy, you’ve got to be – above all other things – open, and then the universe works its particular brand of magic. I used to be incredibly fearful that my weight or my looks would forever keep me from attaining this kind of open-to-the-world attitude but this week hinted at it being about something else, something that comes from a deeper place, a place of contentedness and self-confidence. For the first time in a long time, I did not make the walk from cab to front door worried that another night unkissed meant there was a broken part in me. I did not fear that the next person I desire was going to leave me feeling rejected and deeply hurt. Instead I rounded the corner, bumped into my roommate and best friend from college, and roared with laughter, starting the next chapter of my night – which involved omelets and watching Archer - and the next chapter of my open-hearted life. That’s right, Becca is going to go on dates when asked and turn off the – to pilfer from this wonderful writer – this neon sign warning off all potential suitors that I’ve had lit just above my head for a long, long, time.
The weigh-in and meanderings continue next week! Check back on Thursday for our Skinny Little Bitch Celebrity of the Week!