“Michelle, I just wanted to say that I have noticed that you have gotten fat since last time I saw you. Seriously, you should think about laying off on the hormone shots.” I’m not making this up. These were the exact words my father-in-law spoke to me first thing walking through my front door this past Saturday morning. I did not take it well. I tried with a glib little, “Thanks, just what every girl wants to hear”, but it didn’t stop him. I also advised I was under medical care, but he kept going on until I finally flat out told him we were not going to continue this conversation. Can you believe this? Oh, and this unkindness of words had rolled out of the gullet of a man who had lap band surgery 4 years ago but still looks exactly the same as the before shot. It’s not easy, but he really works at it.
One of the great Irish family mottos I concocted is, “Compliment my ways, and I just may continue. Criticize, and I’ll live by them.” My Irish up, we went to breakfast with everyone riding with me receiving the full effects of my hissy fit. Though I intended to have egg whites with tomato on the side to break my fast, I ordered the big feta and gyro meat omelet with home fries, toast, and ate half my son’s pancakes, glaring directly at the old man every time I took a bite. While I’m not usually of the mindset to cut off my nose to spite my face, he really pissed me off with this and as a result, I ate like a pig all weekend, even though I really truly do need to lose some weight before October. According to my spouse, none of what happened is exactly atypical of the female experience.
I’m pretty sure I’ve disclosed before that I went through a period of a few years where I was downright huge. It was during one of my hopeless periods where I could not get comfortable in my body and decided to screw it all, eat like a starving wildebeest and grow my beard in for good measure. Seriously, I got really big. The whole time I was really packing it on though, no one said a thing to me. Nothing. I was perceived as male and therefore it was perfectly acceptable as I approached middle age to suddenly adopt the appearance of Dom Deluise. Hell, who doesn’t like a jolly fat man? I’m pretty sure Santa’s been ranked in the top 10 of People’s Most Beautiful People of the Year for decades running now. I did take off all the weight 5 years ago to with some accolades, but no one was going to say I looked like shit back when standard size doorways presented a problem.
Now that more and more people have made the mental transition to me being female, it’s a whole different story. “Should you really be eating that?” Mind you, I never get this from women. Women in general don’t care what my body type is and really only notice my appearance when I make my frequent fashion faux pas. In the male world, however, my weight apparently matters. I have never really understood why, but I think it has something to do with sexual desirability, being good “breeding” material, or something to show off to other men. If this is the case, I’m pretty screwed in this area whether I’m fat of thin. My best efforts are never going to result in “sexy”, my breeding days are over and didn’t exactly fit the bill anyway, and it’s really unlikely than any man I dated (should I ever) would be proudly showing off pics of me in a bikini to his buddies. I’m reasonably sure most women, cis or trans, can probably relate to this. But still, apparently our weight is a thing.
In my more masculine days I really didn’t get the whole weight obsession that some women around me had. So what? I didn’t see why anyone cares. Yeah, I get it now. It’s ridiculous that I should care what anyone thinks, but I find myself caring anyway. I hate that I have succumbed to this, but my self esteem is at least a tiny bit tied to whether I shop in the Women’s section or the Misses. The real piss of it is that my hormone balance sent my metabolism into a nose dive, I no longer feel as invulnerable as I used to jogging in the wee morning hours (not a big fan of doing it in daylight with lookie-lous around), food tastes better, and every woman’s fitness mag has more articles on how to schmear my nails right than workout tips or healthy recipes.
It’s all OK though. I will adjust or learn not to care. I know that the male world calculates my worth as a woman based on my dress size above all else and actively judges me on it (not that they don’t have enough other areas to judge, of which they also actively partake in). I know one thing for sure though. Even if I manage to become a fitness machine (for myself and no one else), every time the old man comes around, I’m ordering desert and will eat it, bite by bite, staring directly into his eyes.