Esther Greenwood

a personal entry on a personal subject

In Uncategorized on September 10, 2009 at 10:56 pm

In my bathroom next to my sink is a letter I make an effort to read a few times a month.  It’s a letter from my ex boyfriend Andrew written a year and a half ago, in reply to a hysterical email I sent him.  In my email to Andrew (who currently teaches English in Korea), I ask him if he found me attractive when I weighed “more.”  Granted, I was never “fat” or whatnot, but I was curvy… I come from a long line of curvy Lebanese women.  After a bout of anorexia post-Andrew, however, I lost a lot of my curves.  When I wrote Andrew my email, we had been broken up for over three years and I had gained my curves back… and was certain I looked ugly as all get out and no man would ever want to date me when I had a tummy and an ass.

My Email:

I’ve been having a mini mental breakdown because I keep eating crap and feeling like I’m gaining weight and I keep feeling like if I do nobody would find me attractive.  And I thought about you and me when we dated, and how I weighed a little bit more, and I wondered if you found me just as attractive when I weighed more as I did/do weighing less.  I know that’s like a TERRIBLE question to ask you, but I’m having a breakdown and I need a friend to talk to…. I’m sick of being insane, and doubting myself, and feeling ugly and I feel like I’m just getting uglier……

I was a depressed, neurotic chick going through a bad breakup/heartache.

Andrew’s Reply:

Hi You,

I’m sick of you doubting yourself and feeling ugly.

You have too much going for you to worry about bullshit questions like the ones you’re asking me.

Goddammit, move to France already!

It’s not getting uglier you have to worry about; it’s getting consumed by all this socially-conditioned self-loathing.

But just so you know….

I found your body more attractive weighing more than weighing less.

When we dated I thought you were perfect the way you were.  I loved your callipygian form, the lines and the curves and the little constellations of birthmarks that dotted the pale skin which covered your body, which was always the perfect size to arouse me enough to wake up a house full of prudish Mormons.  There are many things that may perturb you about your relationship with your parents, but your genes should not be one of them.   No need to wear modest  dresses or avoid the beach.  When we dated, you were desirable.  Your body was made to be coveted and inflame passion in young men’s hearts and inspire jealousy in young women’s hearts.  If I didn’t tell you at the time  how much I was attracted to you, how much I liked looking at you when you had just gotten out of the shower or when you were still in the shower or when you were in between Anthropologie dresses in the closet, how proud I was to show you off (purely physically) to my friends, I’m telling you now: you were gorgeous, and it had everything to do with the body that the Flying Spaghetti Monster in his infinite wisdom gave you when he planted you like a small matza ball into the stork’s womb.

Yes, I found you just as attractive and if you think I have/had bad taste then fuck you (!) because you’re beautiful and you need to accept that and move on and write some young adult fiction.

There are lots of ugly people in this world.  You are not one of them.

If you eat crap you may die of liver failure or cancer or food poisoning, but you’ll keep being the same beautiful Emily that planned revenge on the Catholic Church and her summer roommates with  boxes of Cheerios.

Please feel free to call me if you need to talk.  I promise to be more sensitive over the phone.

And  go to the dentist!


It’s a good email.

So today was a big day for me.  I threw out what I called for the past few months my “anorexia clothes.”  This involves a couple pairs of skirts and a pair of jeans.  It also involves me calling my best friend freaking out that I was going to become fat and thus unloveable.  I don’t know why I have it in my head that weight gain = mass hatred.  It’s fucked up, and I’m well aware of that.

My friend Erin always starts working out extra hard whenever she enters a relationship.  She fears if she gains weight while dating the guy/he sees her naked he’ll stop being there for her or loving her.  I have the opposite problem.   When I enter a successful relationship, I’m happier, and thus a lot less likely to starve myself out of depression.   It’s only after a few months of happy that I suddenly realize I need to wear a bra again and I have an ass that I realize gaunt Emily has disappeared and become well, Regular Emily… then the panic sets in.

I realize men don’t enter nor end relationships solely based on the lass’ looks, but I’m also aware that they notice when a woman’s weight changes.  And while my happiest and longest relationships have always involved me being a healthy weight/still eating cookies with my Lebanese metabolism, weight gain on my part scares the shit out of me.  I can blame it on a lot of things– on my upbringing by a mother who worked out all the time and was constantly aware of her weight, on society, on my own screwed up brain.  Nonetheless, the most confident I feel about my looks is when I’m gaunt, yet starving.  It’s no good.

My fight with body image/self loathing is a battle I wage all the time, and it’s a hard one to talk about.  Most of the time I know the girl I see in the mirror is not the girl my friends and loved ones see.  And I know that nobody really wants to hear me bitch on my down days about how dark and ugly and depressed I feel — it’s one of the reasons poor Vince and I broke up six years ago, he got tired of having to constantly build up my self esteem.  I mean, what do you say to a girl like that?  I’m embarrassed to this day about what a nut I was.

I’m in a LOT better place than I was back then.  But there’s still this nagging voice in my head that my lack of a model’s body or my stomach will get in the way of happiness or disgust those I love most.   And again, it’s almost offensive that I even listen to this voice because I give people more credit than that.  I wish there was a way to shut it up forever.


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