Monday, November 14, 2011

A Real Drag

In my first blog post I decided to kick things off with a nice fat acceptance, HAES message that I hoped would make me and everyone who read it a little more comfortable with MY body.  (And yours too. Relax.  I’m not a TOTAL bitch.)  However, I don’t expect every post to be about that because, as the subtitle of my blog explains, I have other issues to address.  Issues like this one:

I am queer.  Hold your applause and/or Bibles back for a second; I’m not done.  I am a bisexual woman.  (We exist, I promise.  Our male counterparts do as well.) But more than that, I am a bisexual woman who calls herself a drag queen. 

Say whaaaaaat?! 

Yes. Yes I do.

You see, I’m not trans.  (My girlfriend says I'm “gender fucked” and this actually seems appropriate.) Despite my whole weight-related insecurity complex, I am satisfied with my body and identify with the gender that I was assigned- for the most part.  Every once in a while I wish that I were a gay man.  I do not identify as one, I just occasionally wish that I did- there’s a difference.  Sometimes I feel like it would be so much easier to do what I’m doing if I were a man, at least there would be a name for it. Instead I find myself inventing terminology like “criss-cross-dresser,” a word which may have existed before it first escaped my lips but which I had never heard until then.  

A criss-cross-dresser: like Victor/Victoria, only less androgynous in my case.  

I have always loved and admired drag queens and drag culture.  Even in my ├╝ber youth (it sounds pretentious to say “in my youth” when I’m 20 years old) I was obsessed with the gayest, campiest movies known to man.  When I was little, Valley of the Dolls and What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? were among my favourite films.  I wanted to be those ridiculously gaudy, over-dramatic, utterly fabulous monsters. I still do. I want glitter and feathers and loud colours!  I want to be a shimmering tower of confidence, creativity, and charisma.  I WANT TO BE BETTE MIDLER!!!! 

But I’m not Bette Midler.  I can’t be because my sexuality gets in the way.  Now, I don’t care about any positive things people have to say about inclusiveness in the LGBTQ community; I feel out of place at Gay Pride Parades.  Do you know how hard it is to be a bisexual woman and a drag queen at the same damn time?  Say what you will about Lady Gaga (I think we all have a problem with SOME ignorant and offensive thing she’s done, said, sang, worn, danced in/on) but she is making my gender identity issue just a little bit easier for me to define to other people.  I mean, it’s not particularly easy to go to a Pride Parade with two separate agendas:

1. represent bisexuality
2. be a drag queen

It’s frustrating!

I go into it trying to normalize my sexuality because no one believes it’s real.  Bisexual women are often treated like straight girls who fuck other girls for male attention.  That’s not okay.  And then bisexual men are treated like gay men with one foot still in the closet who don’t want to admit to being gay so they’re playing it safe by being bi.  That’s not okay either.  None of this shit is okay!  Yes, straight girls make out with other women for attention sometimes and yes, sometimes gay men are too afraid to come out at first but Jesus fucking Christ, whose fault is that?!  I might be a huge fan of blaming society but… society anyone?  Is there anyone here who cares to disagree with the plain truth that society is so damn homophobic some most times that you can’t really blame someone for being nervous about coming out?  Similarly, will anyone attempt to deny the fact that men impose their fantasies of getting with two women at once or of watching two women going at it so much that maybe straight girls have gotten it into their heads that it’s the only way to land them?

Hey society, stop fucking up!  It would make my bisexual life a lot easier.  Thanks. 

That’s on the one side.  On the other side we have my gender identity.  When I’m not promoting the idea that my sexual orientation a) exists and b) is not the devil in my pants (which sounds kind of awesome actually), I am trying to pass myself off as a subversive, gender-bending female impersonator. Whenever I get into my draggy persona, I assemble my outfit as a man who is pretending to be a woman might.  I do everything bigger and fiercer and adopt this confidence I don’t normally have, and pray that no one catches me faking it.  It disrupts the illusion, you know?  A drag queen knows she’s the shit.  But you know what?  It’s hard to be subversive when you’re a girl wearing make-up and a dress.  There’s not a lot to work with there.  

I guess what I’m saying is, it makes me mad when I watch fabulous cross-dressers like Tim Curry in Rocky Horror or Divine or any-damn-body in To Wong Foo and I want to express my gender the way they do in these performances because it feels so right to me and I just can’t because I know it wouldn’t come out right.  I don’t know what it’s like to be a man in heels and I never will. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Strawberry Girl

You know that part of your body that you wish you could change?  That thing you obsess about; the reason you spend too long in the mirror fussing with things only you notice? You know when that thing is your whole body?

I’d like to show you a picture of how I like to look when I leave my room for the day.

This isn’t a belly shirt, it just happened to be riding up at the moment.  I don’t wear  belly shirts.  As you can see, my goal when I get dressed is to emphasize my breasts and my hips and distract you from everything else.  I try to distract you from the fact that underneath my clothes, I really look like this:

If you don’t see much of a difference between these two images, there’s nothing wrong with you.  You’re not missing anything.  My point is that I see a difference. 

My point is that, if I’m not covered up when I look in the mirror, I tend to think about how I have rolls of fat, my stomach is huge, my thighs are enormous, my legs are short and stubby, my skin is sooo white, and my arms have all this excess fat.  A lot of people think that I look just fine, but many more will consider me “overweight.” Here’s the thing about throwing words like “overweight” and “underweight” around; they imply that there is a standard weight that everyone is supposed to be.  I don’t think there is but somehow I have been conditioned to look at my body and feel the need to dress it up in ways that give off the illusion that my body is smaller than it really is.

When I was ten years old, I cried because the doctor told me I weighed 150 pounds.  I had always been on the chubby side but when I fractured my leg the year before, I was stuck at home in a cast for seven weeks.  Since my self-control is shit, I spent every day pigging out and watching Maury.  Yes, I have favourite paternity test episodes.  More importantly, I was never able to lose the weight I had gained.  I was, however, perfectly capable of adding to it.  I have never had a problem there.

Every once in a while I would get on an exercise kick and set out to jog around the block for 30 minutes.  This would invariably end the same way every time; I would get bored after ten minutes because the block I lived on was dead and, even if I could afford an iPod, they hadn’t been invented yet.  Also, because god has never been on my side in this weight loss thing, a squirrel would pop out of nowhere and I would get scared.  I am a New Yorker and all rodents terrify me.  So, boredom and fear would unite and send me back to my house where I would sit on my ass watching TV and not try this again for several months. 

Now, ten years and somewhere between 60 and 75 pounds later, I still don’t do the jogging thing.  I don’t see how I could; squirrels still freak me out and I still don’t own an iPod.  I also have huge tits, which is a full time job.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my girls and show them off with frightening regularity, but there’s something so uncomfortable about having them bounce around at their own free will when I’m just trying to do innocuous shit like, oh I don’t know, walk down a flight of stairs.  This is why I hated my High School gym class.  It’s not that other students would make fun of me; no one in my school cared enough to pick on me, at least not to my face.  It was all a case of paranoia.  It was sort of an irrational fear that I looked ridiculous running and doing jumping jacks.  If there’s anything I love about college, it’s the fact that Physical Education is now permanently out of my life.

I can see how all this may sound like I have some huge issue with my body, like I hate it or I’m not comfortable in my skin or something like that.  That’s actually not the case.  At least, that isn’t the case anymore.  I wouldn’t say that I am 100% in love with my body, and I clearly have my problems with the way I look, but I would never cry over my weight like I did when I was younger.  I am much more accepting of it and I’ve even reached that point where I am comfortable with the word “fat.”

Yes, I’m fat.  No, it’s not an insult. 

I have friends who weigh a lot less than I do who complain to me about their weight, and I honestly don’t know what to say to that.  Seriously, what do you do in that situation?  Here I am, I haven’t been under 200 since Junior High School- and I’m 5’ fucking 4” too, so it’s not even like I can balance it out by being tall- and I have people coming to me all freaked out at the thought that they might weigh like 30 pounds less than I currently do.  It’s like complaining to someone about your salary when you actually make $20,000 more than they do.

Of course I acknowledge that everyone is different and that people have different comfort levels with their bodies.  Clearly, I don’t expect everyone to be satisfied with their weight because I don’t have a problem with mine, even if they do weigh less than I did in seventh grade.  And I know that this is what I must seem like to people who are bigger than I am.  My point is, this is a vicious cycle, and it needs to stop.  There shouldn’t be any stigma attached to being fat.  There really shouldn’t.  I obviously sympathize with that feeling of looking at the scale or in the mirror and not liking what you see, I’m not going to invalidate that dissatisfaction, but I refuse to offer “you’re not fat” as comfort.  

If someone is not fat, it is merely a fact.  It’s not something to give gold stars for.  And if someone is fat, it’s not a bad thing.  It may be treated like it is, but it’s not.  We need to stop associating “fat” with such negativity.  One step in that direction would be to stop creating euphemisms that tip-toe around the issue.  Everyone is always so quick to find excuses for the people they like.  My personal favourite is when I get told that I’m not fat; I’m “just luscious” or “just juicy.”  So now I feel like a strawberry, which is great because, let’s be honest, I definitely am luscious and juicy, but what does this say about society’s attitudes towards fat people in general? 

Well, one thing I have noticed about society is that it does not want us to exist much, outside of punch lines and cautionary tale segments on crap talk shows.  Isn’t that what I’m supposed to feel in a clothing store that doesn’t carry anything above a size 12 or XL.  I wear pants anywhere from 16 to 20 and I can breathe in a Large top, but usually I need an XL or even a 2XL because, you know, boobs.  The fat girl’s dilemma, of course, is that “plus size” clothes are boring and shapeless and sexy clothes just don’t fit.  It’s a stupid dilemma and we shouldn’t have to deal with it, but we do.  We are forced to deal with this double-edged sword all the time; it’s a stifling and oppressive world in which we are told to put our bodies on display, but when we do, we are told that our bodies are not good enough to flaunt.  Well fuck that because I like to show cleavage and if I have to go to a maternity store to get a cute outfit, I do.  Again, I really shouldn’t have to resort to that, but I sometimes do. 

I mean, seriously.  Plus size stores need to step it up.  I want clothes that are flattering to my awesome curves.  Maybe you wouldn’t call me a feminist- hell, I don’t- but I like when people find me attractive; it’s very comforting.  I try not to define myself by it, but I like it. I like to look sexy but when the image of sexy is a physical impossibility for me to achieve, I think something is wrong.  I shouldn’t have to settle for someone who’s only going to fetishize me because being “a fat chick” puts me so low on the totem pole of fuckability.  This is not to say that the only reasons to be against fat hate are that we can’t get laid or find cool clothes, though those are major issues.  Overall, this movement is about respect and being treated like human beings, rather than consistently being insulted, bullied, or made to feel guilty about our weight.  That’s just a basic human right. 

And honestly, I would really appreciate it if the media didn’t programme everyone to find my cellulite repulsive.