When you turn 50, if you’re normal and not pathologically overly positive, you fall into a depression. Regrets hit harder; the knee you busted trying to impress a boyfriend 20 years ago hurts more; and you start obsessively checking your retirement account and panicking.
But there are benefits too, mostly of the I-don’t-give-a-fuck variety. Dramatic friends no longer keep you up at night, you have no shame in declining plans, and because you’re entering that invisible stage society reserves for women who can no longer reproduce, no one comments on your looks anymore.
Or so I thought. Hello, my name…
The first day I wore a crop top, I felt like my body was on fire.
I pulled my pants as far up as they would go so that the expanse of my belly exposed would be as small as possible. The decision to wear the crop top took exceeding mental fortification. I wore it, took it off, put it on again, stood in front of a mirror twisting and turning and fidgeting until a voice in my head shouted: ENOUGH. At the time, what I heard was, “Enough with the trying on. Just go, Jor.”
I now realize that…
I know that you have learned to hate your body.
I know the messages, the images, the comments, both cruel and well-intended. I know the sinking feeling of seeing your changing body in the mirror, the sharp pain as your clothes dig into newly soft flesh.
I know it hurts, and the pain can sometimes feel immeasurable. I know it is tempting to validate that pain by asserting that you are the intended target of an oppressive system. I also know that, if you have never been a fat person, the name for that pain is not “internalized fatphobia.”
Jews who don’t follow Jewish law or custom have zero qualms about criticizing my tattoos, whether or not they know I’m an ordained rabbi. A person who was literally eating pork ribs pointed to my arm and said, “Isn’t that technically not allowed?”
Sure, it’s technically not allowed, depending on your definition of “technically” (and, for that matter, your definition of “not allowed”).
Long, complex story short and oversimplified: Modern movements of Judaism continue to condemn tattooing as a violation of a commandment in the Torah (Judaism’s central sacred text), but the consequences of that violation, at least in most…
My first memory of food is my mother trying to pry the tines of a fork into my mouth. Her pleas were quiet and urgent, and it was a rare thing to see my mother cry. She was impenetrable, violent, and beautiful. Tears are the dominion of children, but it was as if I were birthed bone-dry — capable of sorrow, but unable to weep for it. …
Since I found out I was pregnant, I’ve had doctors’ appointments every month. Plus half a dozen trips to the lab to have blood drawn. Plus trips to the hospital where I’ll deliver, because that’s where the ultrasounds happen. I’m in my third trimester now, so my doctors’ appointments are every two weeks. In the final four weeks, I’ll have to go every week, and since at age 37 I’m what’s considered a “geriatric” mother, I’ll likely have more frequent ultrasounds as well.
This is my third child in five years. I’ve had a dozen strangers’ hands inside my cervix…
In September 2018, I got my breast implants explanted.
The surgery was simple. Dr. C. made two-inch-long incisions and extracted a pair of saline water balloons from the exhausted skin sacks where they’d spent the previous 13 years. One moment they were inside of my body, and the next they were at the bottom of a red biohazard trash can in the corner of the room — where they belonged.
Physically, all the removal required was showing up, $2,000, 1 milligram of Valium, and my love at my side, holding my hand.
Mentally, it was vastly more complicated, and I…
In the summer, I get skinny.
That heat comes in and honey, I’m lonely, fevered, downing bottles before they can bead — the city reeks mad in the summer. Everyone’s just a little bit. Unhinged. When I’m anxious, when I’m worse, I get skinny. I stay out late nights, in a t-shirt, and I get dark and I stare at my wrists.
You have big hair and you’re flirting with me in The Black Cat and I’m staring at my wrists.
Toothpick and wire, my weight is my worry. Maybe you don’t notice but it’s all I see, waving these…
“I’m less attracted to you since you’ve gained weight,” he says.
I can’t blame him. So am I.
This body isn’t mine. This body: pale, freckled, stretched out like pizza dough, soft around the middle, thighs plush. The curves of my cheeks like a jack-o-lantern grin. The stretch marks spiderwebbed across wide hips.
I haven’t figured out how to stand in photos. I imitate my friends, toes pointed forward, arms akimbo, jutting out like wings, and there’s the full width of my torso, the flab of my upper arm. …
CW: Eating disordered behavior.
My knee is all messed up.
My sister, who is an athletic trainer, says it’s most likely a PCL sprain, the less intense counterpart of an ACL tear. It hurts if I walk or stand for too long. It hurts if I overextend the knee joint. It hurts if I sit in the gargoyle-like, curled up posture that feels most comfortable to my autistic little brain. It hurts if I do anything but keep my knee elevated and ever-so-slightly bent. It’s been hurting for a couple weeks now and I’m starting to flip out.
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