My ability to draw Pokemon got me through elementary school

When I was six years old, I drew a picture of a tyrannosaurus rex, walked up to the front of my first-grade class, and proclaimed that I was going to marry a T-Rex one day.

When I try to pinpoint a single moment my classmates could seize upon as evidence that I was different, I sometimes think that one is as good as any.

I’ve been seeing a professional about relaxation. Should my profuse profanity not make it abundantly evident, I’m not a very relaxed person. Here’s more evidence: I’m a professional proofreader (should you find errors on this blog, it is because I’m human, motherfucker). Sometimes, in that twilight that is both sleep and not, I half-dream about proofreading my own thoughts.

I grind my jaw at night. It’s really my only source of headaches. Luckily, I have weirdly low blood pressure despite being a stressmonkey, or else I probably would have had twelve strokes by now.

My relaxation guy asked about my sources of stress. One of the questions was, “How was school growing up?”

“Well, I can’t say I was bullied, but people definitely made fun of me a bunch.”

“Why’s that?”

Oh, because I wanted to marry a carnivorous dinosaur, for one. I was also your standard socially awkward, chubby, greasy, frizzy, four-eyed, poorly dressed nerd girl.

When I was in fifth grade, I abandoned my late cretaceous infatuations in favor of a new crush, this time a celebrity: Mozart.

I had no chance of being cool.

I always felt behind. I didn’t know what I was supposed to be wearing until the other girls told me, and reminded me it was pretty much the opposite of the weird stretchy pantsuits my mother made me wear. I also really wasn’t allowed to leave the house much, so my social prospects were nil. The other girls were fascinated by all the things I wasn’t allowed to do. “You’re not allowed to shave your legs? You’re not allowed to go to sleepovers? You’re not allowed to have a boyfriend until you’re sixteen?”

Of course, according to my mother, doing any of those things would guarantee that I’d be knocked up thrice and addicted to crack cocaine before I could even wrap my head around algebra.

Add this to my awkward, prematurely developed body: I started wearing a bra when I was nine, I sprouted my big ol’ childbearing hips at the same time, and my bone structure was thick. I had linebacker shoulders. My weight was in the triple digits before I could multiply and divide triple digits. I was the opposite of the little dainty girly girls who prodded me like the curious freak I was.

I was miserable. I had a handful of friends, and I was lucky for that, but even that camaraderie didn’t make up for the teasing I underwent daily. At least I had Mozart. Symphony 25 in G Minor was my jam, because it was dramatic as hell, and seemed to be perfect for my dark, moody soul. (I hadn’t discovered death metal yet.)

To get through the day, to make people like me — or just treat me civilly — I always had to barter. I had a reputation as being one of the two smartest kids in school (the other was another chronically picked on kid — and a fucking badass cowboy who is now married to a blond bombshell and doing fabulously well for himself. Little kids don’t know shit), so helping kids with their classwork was a reliable token.

And then Pokemon came along.

Finally, there was a social trend I got. I played the games. I watched the show every day before school. And, best of all, I was the best damn Pokemon artist my elementary school had ever seen, and everybody wanted to be a Pokemon artist.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo

I was Michelangelo, motherfuckers.

Suddenly, boys (boys!) were consulting me about their drawings. I showed them where to apply the chiaroscuro shading on their Charizards. Where the stripes went on their Raichus. The girls all wanted me to draw them Eevees and Ponytas (fallin’ lockstep into that gender essentialist garbage early on, ya see!), and I obliged.

I don’t know if there’s a moral to this story. That kids are ruthless capitalists who only give a shit about you if you have something to offer them, and then expect you to be happy with what meager social gains you get? I don’t know. But Pokemon was pretty much the best part of a decent chunk of my childhood. Thank you, Japan.

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The Bachelorette — I give myself permission to be aghast

Devin Townsend looking aghast

Devin Townsend often looks aghast. Source: his Facebook

I don’t watch a lot of reality TV. I’ll sit through a bunch of episodes of House Hunters and whatever else on HGTV because I love my fiance and he loves that stuff, but I prefer scripted television. (Battlestar Galactica, I’m looking at you.) But when I catch the occasional glance of a reality show, I often walk away thinking, are we really that behind?

The other night, my mother-in-law was watching The Bachelorette. The premise of the show, from what I understand, is that singlehood is so terrible — especially when you’re rich and attractive — that the only thing to do is speed-date a bunch of generic strangers (in front of millions of other strangers) until you end up with one of them, forever.

Or to put it more succinctly, when my MIL said, “I don’t know what she sees in some of these guys,” I replied, “What do you want from a bunch of dudes competing on a gameshow for pussy?”

But what really hit me was that this episode — presumably early in the season, as there must have been like 8-12 dudes standing on the platform, awaiting a rose (or is a rose a bad thing? I wasn’t paying attention) — had virtually no people of color.

Nothing but a bunch of white guys.

And not only that! No fat dudes. No skinny dudes. No short dudes. No dudes with visible disabilities. Each white guy with identically coiffed hair, similar tans, wearing similar suits. This is what an attractive man is, The Bachelorette says. It is this one height, this one weight, this one skin tone, this one hairstyle (and they all have full heads of hair, mind you).

I’m sure The Bachelor is no better when it comes to diversity in women.

Now now, Natty, you’re saying. Surely you can’t be shocked? Surely you’re aware that television sucks at the whole diversity thing and has sucked for a long time. Surely you’re aware that what the media deems attractive is narrow, and racist, and fatphobic, and ableist, and etc., etc., etc. I mean, how naive can you be?

And yes, I’m aware. I am aware but I am not numb. I don’t stop noticing. It’s 2013, and I give myself permission to be aghast.

**Update!**

My friend Ashley offered this insight, which (thankfully!) takes a small bit of the sting out of the lack-of-diversity problem:

I’m going to play devil’s advocate because oddly enough I have the knowledge base to do it…

I watch this show because my Dad wants someone to talk to about it. Last season, The Bachelor was actually very racially diverse AND included a woman with one arm. (Yes, she was a token person with a disability but at least she was there. She was there for a decent amount of time too.) The girl he proposed to was Filipino. My favorite woman was Afghani. There was a decently sized segment of black women for a decent chunk of the running. And the bachelor was the whitest dude ever and he specifically addressed the diversity issue on the show.

This season, there was a man of color who made it a few weeks in. There’s a non-native English speaker who is still there. The producers or whoever choose potential matches for the bachelor/bachelorette based on what that person says they find attractive. So, lack of diversity is partially the fault of the individuals themselves and partially the producers. Also, diverse people may be weeded out early on leaving a similar group closer to the end because the person doing the choosing has a type. 

The women’s body types are more varied than the men’s but I’ve never seen an overweight person on the show, which is problematic. Lately, however, they’ve done better with race and ethnicity and differing abilities. The guy who was chosen a couple of bachelorettes ago was actually on the skinny side. So sometimes the men have different body types. But they could undoubtedly do better.

Also, many of these people aren’t actually rich. For example, the current bachelorette grew up fairly poor living alternately in a trailer and a tent. That’s part of why they’re all so excited to be surrounded by extravagance.

So that’s my two cents. I’m not saying you’re wrong, you’re not. They need to do a lot better, but in recent years they’ve made some okay progress. And I’m slightly uncomfortable with how much I could contribute to this conversation.

*The more you know.*

Good to know that there has been more (if not nearly enough!) diversity on these shows in the past. I think this point is really interesting:

The producers or whoever choose potential matches for the bachelor/bachelorette based on what that person says they find attractive. So, lack of diversity is partially the fault of the individuals themselves and partially the producers. Also, diverse people may be weeded out early on leaving a similar group closer to the end because the person doing the choosing has a type.

This is definitely still problematic, and something I will unpack in the future! My initial thought is this: if part of the problem is the person’s non-diverse ‘type,’ control the part you can control by selecting as the Bachelor/Bachelorette somebody whose “type” is more diverse. Do I think the producers have a virtue obligation here? Yup! Sure do.

STAY TUNED FOR MORE ANGRY OPINIONS FROM NATTY!

The low carb drug

Ultrasound of a polycystic ovary

This is a polycystic ovary. This is why I eat low-carb. Source: Wikipedia

I’m in that awkward position of being a fat activist who eats in a way that many people eat to lose weight, because I’m treating an ACTUAL medical condition (read: not obesity) with nutrition. But it looks a lot like Atkins.

If I said to people, “I lost 70 lbs on Atkins,” it wouldn’t be technically false. However, it is glaringly incomplete and inaccurate, and I will never again suggest that people cut carbs to lose weight.

The truth is, I have lost a lot of weight, and the loss is presumably the result of eating low-carb. But I didn’t cut carbs to lose weight. I cut carbs because that is a recommended course of action for polycystic ovarian syndrome. I cut carbs to treat hypertriglyceridemia. I cut carbs because doing other things, such as reducing my fat and cholesterol intake, taking Omega-3 fatty acids, and engaging in cardiovascular exercise, did fuck-all for my triglycerides, but cutting carbs worked.

Some people might say, “You lost fat, so of course your triglycerides are lower.” This is not true. I was not obese when I first discovered that my triglycerides were elevated. Likewise, I was still obese when my cholesterol and triglycerides normalized. My condition was neither caused by nor cured with weight changes.

Low-carb is a drug I took for a condition. The drug works for me, but it has side effects. One side effect was weight loss. While I went from being “morbidly obese” (whatever the hell that means) to having a “healthy” BMI (whatever the hell that means), the weight loss itself was not an entirely benign side effect. It triggered some dormant disordered eating thoughts and behaviors.

Another side effect is that my choice is severely limited. To save my heart and liver, I am committing to a severely restricted lifestyle. No booze (note: I have other genetic risk factors for liver disease). Atkins-level carb intake. For the rest of my life, until they find a better drug.

This doesn’t stop because I’m thin now.

I’m that “annoying” (to ableists) person at a restaurant (the rare occasions when I DO go out to eat) who asks to see the ingredients to make sure sauces contain no hidden sugars. My favorite foods — burritos, lasagna, pizza — are off limits. Forever.

This is not a diet. I eat more than I did when I was obese (ask anybody who has seen me eat). It’s not uncommon for me to eat an entire rotisserie chicken in one sitting. I do not undernourish my body. I do not go hungry. I do not do this for weight loss.

But I lost weight anyway, and that’s what people see. And they ask me how I did it. I used to say, “I cut carbs.” But now I say, “I had a medical condition, and in treating it, I lost weight. I can tell you more if you’re interested.”

Because I can’t promise you that cutting carbs will result in weight loss. I can’t promise you that my metabolism won’t catch on to what’s happening to my body, commit mutiny, and cause me to gain the weight back, just like the other 95% of people who lose weight. I can’t tell you why I know people who eat nothing but bread and pasta and sugar and stay skinny. I can’t tell you because I’m not a scientist; I’m an anecdote.

I can’t promise that I’m better off in the long run. I happen to believe, from the evidence I’ve seen, that lowering my triglycerides might have health benefits and add years to my liver. I happen to have anecdotal results that my lifestyle has helped my health, independent of my weight. I started ovulating, though my periods are insane now; my stomach doesn’t give me as many problems, though it’s still kind of a little shit; I have perfect blood work and vitals. But I’ve only been doing this for a year. I’m experimenting on myself because I’ve tried other methods, and those methods don’t work for me. I will not experiment on you.

I made a choice, and I am happy to tell you a story about my choice, but I will never recommend that somebody else make this choice. If somebody sees anything that’s happened to my body, wants something similar for hirself, and makes the choice I did, I will not make any claims to the similarity of our bodies or the results ze can expect. I will never invest myself in hir choices.

I will not promote the idea that thinness is an adequate reward for restriction and self-denial. I will not promote a process that triggered disordered thoughts for me. I will not promote a drug that treated a condition I have because I am not a doctor; I am an anecdote.

I will always promote loving your body.

I will always promote eating whatever the fuck you want.

I will always promote personal agency.

I happened to have a condition; I happened to commit to something that treated the condition; in treating the condition, I happened to realize the side effect of weight loss. But I also realized some negative side effects.

Cutting my hair short was the best thing I ever regretted

haircut

Regret has never looked so good. Or to the left.

Going from long hair to a pixie is not unlike getting an IUD inserted — you’ll be nervously excited prior, the process and subsequent hours will leave you curled up like a shrimp, bawling your eyes out, and once the initial trauma wears off, you’ll be damned proud of your decision.

(Note: some people report little pain or discomfort with IUD insertions. I want to know what black magic those people have used upon their cervixes.)

I cut my hair because it looked pretty miserable. After rocking several variations on the pixie, in addition to the occasional pre-shoulder shag, for six years, I decided to grow some nice long mermaid hair. I anticipated the thick, lush waves of my teenage years. I had some big Italian hair. It was glorious.

Granted, much has changed since I was a long-haired eighteen-year-old. There were five years of misguided nutrition, most of it low-fat, low-calorie, and pretty much the opposite of what my individual body needed. My PCOS symptoms grabbed hold of my body, stopping my period dead in its tracks, putting lots of weight on previously thin areas (note: this was AWESOME for my boobs), and making patches of my skin dark, not to mention HELLA PIMPLY.

And, most recently, making my hair fall out.

My fiance is losing his hair, too. Male pattern baldness. It runs in his family and, while he is not happy about it, is not the worst thing in the world. It only serves to make him slightly more like a hotter version of Vin Diesel, which isn’t a valid thing to complain about.

His bathroom floor is covered in his short spiral curls. It’s also covered in my longer Botticelli curls. The ones it took me two years, lots of deep conditioner (no sulfates!), and fastidious avoidance of heat to grow. One tile floor, equal parts dude hair and lady hair.

And my head was looking patchy. My hair was just a thin shadow of what it used to be. (I originally wrote “ghost” instead of “shadow,” but I figured the latter was a better image because I’m brunette as fuck.)

I was devastated. Seriously, traumatized. My soul was legitimately crushed because I am one vain bitch, and I’m sick of the slings and arrows PCOS hurls at my vanity bits. First my skin. Then my adipose deposits. Each change took work to accept. And now, my hair.

I scheduled a doctor’s appointment as soon as possible, and then scheduled a hair appointment. I’d rather have short, fuller-looking hair than long, sad hair. A tough decision, but the right one. I wouldn’t have the down-my-back mermaid hair I had dreamed of for my 2014 wedding. Ugh, that was a tough dream to give up.

But I had had short hair for most of my adult life, so this wouldn’t be bad, right?

Wrong.

The lady at the salon was awesome, and will totally have my business for the foreseeable future. She said making dramatic hair changes was a day-making experience for her, and said a pixie would be perfect for my “cute face.” (Damn, I love having a cute face.)

She cut it, and after the initial shock, I loved it! I looked a hundred times better.

But then, I got in my car. Looked in my rear-view mirror, and didn’t see my now-familiar long-haired self anymore. I saw Pixie Me.

No.

Noooooooo.

What have I done?

A bunch of irrational, stupid, shallow thoughts flooded my brain. I’m not feminine enough to pull this off. My god, what will my fiance think? He’ll probably tell me I look wonderful while secretly feeling less attracted to me. I look like a boy. A really cute boy, but a boy.

I did the only thing I could possibly do to make myself feel better. The only thing that ever really makes me feel better during such times of outrageous fortune. I bought lipstick.

A nice, deep plum. As far from natural as possible. Unmistakably lipsticky. Lipstick that says, I tried hard to be a girl today.

I went home, put it on, and vowed never to not wear lipstick until my hair grew out again. I went to sleep in it. But not before crying for hours. My hair was gone. So what if it was thin and scraggly? It was mine. It was my hair. I’d made a huge mistake, and I couldn’t go back.

I messaged my fiance, pathetically entreating him to still find me pretty. I sent him a picture, and sure enough, he did. In fact, he confessed to me a magical fact: he had a favorite hairstyle. And it was short. And he preferred me with short hair. And then he told me that I look like Anne Hathaway (note: I look nothing like Anne Hathaway [see above photo], but I’ll take it!).

Let’s be clear here: the shallow validation of my new haircut by a man made me feel a hundred times better, and now is approximately the perfect time to relinquish all my feminist merit badges. (Note: I originally typed “merit badgers,” and now you know.)

In the week after I chopped off my hair, I received a flood of compliments. Seriously, people love it, or at least they pretend really hard. They say it suits me. Adjectives I’ve heard include “spunky” and “sassy,” and that’s exactly the attitude I’d like to put off!

Within days of the cut, the regret disappeared entirely, and now I just feel damn foxy. And I can feel breezes on the back of my neck. Hell yea.

How about you: have you ever made a beauty decision you immediately regretted, then grew to love?

How losing weight screwed with my self esteem

Trigger warning: This post gets pretty detailed about eating disorder stuff.

So I just lost a bunch of weight, mostly unintentionally. And it fucked me up something good.

Toothpaste for Dinner

Source: toothpastefordinner.com

Now, let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. Thin privilege is pretty fucking nice. You know what’s awesome? Going into a clothing store and being able to find clothes that fit me, in a variety of different styles (most of which I hate anyway, because fashion peaked for me in the early aughts, but that’s besides the point).

You know what would be more awesome? If instead of my having to make such a drastic change to my body in order to find things to keep it warm and not naked, clothing stores decided not to be so goddamn discriminatory.

Note, I enjoyed some amount of thin privilege when I was fat, too. Privilege is a spectrum. When I had a “morbidly obese” BMI, whatever the hell that means, I was still more or less hourglass shaped. I had a more or less thin face. I had no problem securing employment, and my current fiance fell in love with me at my highest weight — which also speaks to his love of a broad range of bodies, but I’m lucky that in my dating history, I’ve managed to skirt the point-blank rejection many fat girls come to accept as just part of their existence.

But let’s not kid anybody: I was fat. Not just “curvy,” (though F. Scott Fitzgerald might have said I “carried my surplus flesh sensuously”), but fat. My thighs knew each other intimately, and would develop very painful sores where they rubbed together (the only health issue I can think of that my fatness caused — “fat” does not mean “unhealthy,” motherfuckers). My upper arms jiggled mightily (okay, they still do). I could only shop in plus size venues, and even then, most garments were too long for my fat-but-petite body. I squeezed into XLs. When I went to a new kickboxing class, despite my having a black belt, the instructor immediately told me she’d be happy to “modify” any exercises for me — assuming my size spoke to an inherent athletic deficit (more on that later!). I was a card-carrying fatty.

And I fucking owned it.

Yes, it took getting over a nearly decade-long eating disorder to own it. It took a lot of work, a lot of self-compassion, years pouring over fat acceptance and Health At Every Size blogs, and plenty of self-advocacy to own it. But for a brief, glorious blip of my lifespan, I realized I was fat, not likely to be thin, and damn sexy.

And my own kind of sexy, too. Not that narrow ideal the media forces on us — white (but with a golden glow!), thin, long hair, big (but not too big!) boobs, etc., etc. I was, somehow, my own kind of sexy. A sexiness that was all mine — short-haired, thick-bellied, clad in fun prints and wide belts that provided wonderful staging for my new rack. A sexiness I shared with other fat chicks, women whose bodies dazzled me in their fullness, their inertia, the space they commanded. Fat was part of my identity, and inextricably tied to my perception of my own sexiness.

And then I lost weight.

Lost weight as a byproduct, not a goal, of a way of eating originally meant to lower my triglycerides and preserve my liver. I had PCOS, hypertriglyceridemia, and hyperinsulinemia. I sought to treat these conditions, not fat. But in a matter of weeks, I was twenty pounds lighter.

While I didn’t start eating that way to lose weight, weight loss was happening. I kept reminding myself I was doing this for reasons other than thinness, and not to let positive reinforcement of my loss of mass get to me. Not to let it trigger old disordered habits. Not to let it affect my new self esteem, my identity as a woman of size.

But it got to me.

People noticed I was shrinking (they didn’t notice my shrinking triglycerides, mainly because people don’t go around stabbing people in the arm with needles), and they pointed it out in very value-heavy language. “You look great,” implying I didn’t look as great before. “You’re getting so tiny!” in a tone of voice that implied that this was a thing to be envied. “What is your secret?” because whatever it was, it was magical, coveted. And then, I started to covet it. I decided that I wanted to be thin. Maybe it was possible. Maybe I could get a piece of that privilege.

And I morphed from a sexy fat lady to a thin-lady-in-progress.

As a fat woman, I knew who I was. I was satisfied with it. But once I added intention to my otherwise inadvertent weight loss, I was a lesser (while larger) version of some future self. I went from being my own kind of sexy to being an incomplete version of somebody else’s version of sexy. I was thin, but not thin enough. Maybe with another 30 pounds — and it became a madness.

My sister was losing weight, too — very much on purpose — and every time we talked, we’d compare numbers. 50 lbs. 55 lbs. 65 lbs. We’d tell each other what we’d been eating. We congratulated each other. We were finally approaching the thin privilege that had eluded us.

When my weight loss slowed down, I panicked.

It came to a head one night when my fiance showed me a video of a very thin woman covered in tattoos, because he found it sexy, because we like to share sexy things, and because her tattoos and long dark hair reminded him of me.

But there’s a pretty obvious difference, I thought. She’s skinny.

And my stomach was full that night. I don’t do calorie restriction or portion control, so a full stomach isn’t incompatible with my lifestyle. But the old pangs of shame, of self-hatred, of internalized fatphobia came back, and I left for the bathroom, for a habit I had dropped over a year prior.

Washed my hands. Positioned myself over the toilet. This will make me feel better, I thought. A temporary relief. Empty my stomach and make my heart race. Remind myself that there’s always an emergency stop to throw, a form of relief built into my knuckles.

But I stopped.

I’d like to say I stopped because in a moment of heroic feminism and size acceptance and inner-strength, I flipped society and the illnesses it invents the bird.

But I stopped because of my fiance. Because he’s an emetophobe, and I couldn’t subject him to the sound of my wretching, to speak nothing of the guilt he might feel if he knew that video triggered me. Because he loves me unconditionally, has loved me at every size I’ve ever been, and wants me to be healthy. I hadn’t attempted to purge in order to hurt him, but no matter what my intent, I would hurt him.

So I stopped myself — not for myself, but for a man. Ugh.

But I did recognize a problem. And I talked to him about my feelings, about this whole weight loss debacle — and eventually, though only much later, I told him I would stop trying to lose weight.

If it happens, it happens, but it won’t be a goal of mine. I have too many other things to work on. Like learning to love my new, thinner body as much as I loved my former fat one. And considering how long it took me to love fat me, I’m not expecting any miracles any time soon. But that’s where the effort belongs.

Man hands

Holding hands

My fiance and I have hands.

It’s weird how even the silliest, most absurd little “innocuous” joke can crawl under your skin.

I get nightmares when I’m on my period. It isn’t uncommon for me to wake up crying when that happens. That happened this morning.

I dreamt that I was cuddling with my fiance on his couch, but then I realized that it wasn’t him. That it was some new guy — large, tall, classically handsome, utterly alien — and that Chris had been long gone.

I had been holding this man’s hand, this impostor’s hand, and when I realized he wasn’t my familiar partner, I noticed that his hands felt huge around mine — that my hand fit around one of his thumbs the way it did around Chris’s entire hand.

I don’t want these big hands, I thought, I want Chris’s small ones.

And I started crying, missing my fiance so much, wondering where he’d gone and why. And I woke up crying, in Chris’s arms, and I clung to him, reminding myself it was still him, the genuine article, my beloved fiance with the small, artistic hands.

I have man hands. They are large — they stretch a tenth on a piano and wear a size 9 ring — and sinewy, with fat veins bulging atop visible tendons, short nails, and hair on the knuckles. I have always loved them because they are so capable. They make beautiful music when placed on piano keys. They make you feel better when they press into your back muscles, or the bottoms of your feet. They fit perfectly around the small hands of my fiance, a man who is three inches taller than I am but whose hands don’t maintain that proportion.

Very little on my body is “proportional.” My hands and feet are huge for a short girl. My shoulders are wide; my hips are wide; my ribcage is so big that you could see its outlines even when I was “obese.” I am not uniformly big; I am not uniformly small; I am a whimsical mix of sizes and shapes that makes up a unique body, the body that I am.

My hands have been bigger than those of many of the men I’ve dated, and all of the women. All have been taller than I, mostly by virtue of my shortness. None lodged a complaint. A bass player, a fantastic musician I’d dated, loved how big my hands were; he saw it as evidence of my own musicianship, something he found attractive about me. My man hands specifically were attractive to this heterosexual man.

But still, when I see this image floating around the Internet, a still from the classic Seinfeld episode, it sometimes bothers me that people laugh at it.

Man hands

I get the joke; I’m not oversensitive; but my hands don’t look all that different from James Rekart’s. The hands people laugh at are hands you could see on a woman, a woman such as myself. The humor in the episode should be (and I think is intended to be) that something as ridiculous as manly hands putting off an otherwise lovely date is patently absurd. That’s what Seinfeld is about — shallow people being absurd.

But out of context, people still post pictures of those hands and laugh at them. The butt of the joke, for them, isn’t the absurdity of the rejection; it’s the absurdity of the body part.

It bothers me sometimes that people could think of my hands as objects of ridicule, but then I remember what they do. They play piano. They wear an engagement ring given to me by my soulmate, an heirloom from his grandmother, whose hands are serendipitously similar to mine. They high five. They console. They open jars many hands cannot.

And they know exactly what my fiance’s hands feel like; there is memory in my palms, in my fingertips.

So obesity is a disease now. A true story of MY DISEASE

The American Medical Association now classifies obesity as a disease. Doctors are encouraged to urge obese patients to lose weight, because obviously nobody else does.

Obesity, a physical trait defined as some arbitrary ratio between height and weight, now shares a category with cancer and diabetes and scleroderma as an illness, something that needs to be treated and cured.

I’m one of the “cured” ones. Let me tell you a tale of my disease.

I had this disease for most of my adult life. I contracted it some time in 2007, when the number on my scale notched up from 162 to 163. Instantly, the illness befell me.

I didn’t seek treatment for the disease at first. No drugs, no special diets — I kept living my life, ignorant of the horrible things happening to my body. So ignorant, even, that I didn’t notice them. I continued to run 5ks. I continued to make out vigorously with attractive people, some of whom were afflicted with that same disease.

My bloodwork wasn’t perfect — I had high cholesterol and triglycerides — but that was the case even before the disease took hold. By some magic, I had had high cholesterol even BEFORE I was a fatty! Weird, because cholesterol problems are clearly only the domain of the obese, right?

Over the years, symptoms of my disease abounded. I got bigger and bigger. My boobs filled out a 38C bra. My cheeks were chubbier. My butt became quite wide.

And, uh, that’s really all she wrote as far as symptoms go. BUT WHAT SYMPTOMS! The AMA would now see my large boobs as evidence of severe illness that needed to be cured.

One day, I decided I wanted to be healthier. I started eating in a way that lowered my triglycerides and cholesterol. I wasn’t certain that would make me healthier, but I gave it a shot. Three months later, my bloodwork came back normal — perfect blood sugar, perfect cholesterol, low triglycerides. Yay! I thought I was in the clear.

Little did I know — I was still diseased. For lo, I still had an OBESE BMI, and by a wide margin.

My family doctor was HORRIBLY NEGLIGENT in treating me. Diseased with obesity himself, he never suggested that I lose weight to treat my symptoms. When my periods were irregular, he prescribed me the pill, just like he would a skinny person, and neglected to tell me to lose weight! When I developed eczema on my hand, he gave me a steroidal cream to treat the rash and didn’t blame it on my fat. How could he ignore the signs? Sure, my blood work was perfect, my blood pressure on the low side of normal, my heartrate low, but my boobs! My boobs and butt were so big. Disease!

Since my horrible, diseased years, I have lost a bunch of weight (mostly by accident, I guess because my doctor didn’t fat-shame me hard enough) and “cured” myself. My life is completely different!

Except that it’s not.

I still get fatigue and depression. I still get mood swings around my period, which is still not regular. My skin breaks out in random rashes. My hair is falling out. I don’t feel worse than I did when I was obese, but I don’t feel better. My blood work and vital signs are exactly the same as they were when I was obese. I feel the same, just smaller. I think I might have lost some muscle strength, actually.

Some magic cure weight loss is, huh? Where do I get my magical health results? Who do I have to reach at the AMA for answers here?