Sunday, May 29, 2011

segways and mean words

A flier in the elevator where I live announces a raffle for a Segway tour.  I've seen these little troops tooling around downtown and it looks like fun.  I thought about buying a raffle ticket.  

But then the dreaded scene went flashing across my mind:  I show up with ticket in hand, and the tour guide looks me up and down awkwardly.  I cringe as he tries to find the words to tell me I probably exceed the weight limit for this tour.  I am Karen Swank, Who Can Google Anything.  Going to my handy dandy search bar, I key in "heavy people ride Segway."  There, I read varying takes on the limits - enough to prevent me from asking for a ride.  It might be okay, but I might encounter a guide who thinks I'm over the limit. thanks.  Not really in the mood to volunteer for a kick in the self-esteem.

Amidst my reading, someone comments, "I am not going to say 'overweight' because that is a false word.  The truth is FAT.  FAT people should not ride Segways."  Ahhh.  Pleasant.  Hope that writer doesn't have anything he's ashamed of that can be called a nasty name.

"Overweight" is a false word?  Huh?!  It's just a non-judgmental word.  An accurate measurement without the sucker punch included.  "Fat," at least here in the States (Europe is a whole other story, and I'm not telling that story today), is a word filled with judgment, contempt, ridicule...hate. 

This journey of letting God teach me to love my body is definitely including a long, strong look at language.  I have thought I was just being "real" when I've called myself a "fat lady."  And now I look and see that I would never exercise that kind of "realism" on another person. 

Words have power.  When the word "cankles" came into style and I heard it continually rolling off the lips of "pretty" people...that was the passage when I stopped wearing shorts.  I had hated my legs since I was 12 years old, but had kept on wearing shorts, despite some discomfort.  Then the vicious pleasure of people throwing that new term around sent me running for cover.  Pants, long skirts, anything to hide 'em.  No showing of the cankles.  No opening myself up for ridicule. 

When someone absolutely beautiful inside and out calls herself "shamu," I shudder.  I understand the place of feeling and saying it, but...if she'd use THAT name on herself, how much worse must be the name she'd choose for me?!  And yet, knowing her, I know she'd never be so nasty to me.  Then I realize that I've been glibly calling myself the fat lady, thereby condemning any and all of my readers who are at or above my weight.  I mean, I wasn't trying to call THEM that.  I was just trying to say how I feel about ME.  But as I go around assaulting myself with hate words...those arrows are hitting others, too. 

A really great lady recently told me that she is disgusted by her body (and thus expects everyone else to find it disgusting as well).  I get that.  I've spent years upon years feeling that.  Another wonderful friend is sometimes known to hold a pillow up by her face when talking on the couch, to hide her double chin.  I get that.  I've been playing the "how to hide it" game for way too long. 

The fun thing about running where God leads me as I ask Him to teach me to love my body:  He is not FOR ONE SECOND saying I'll need to first get it in shape...worthy of being loved, if you will.  

He is teaching me to treat it well - to choose love via action.  What I eat, how I move, when I give it extra care.
He is teaching me to notice its accomplishments and progress, and celebrate them.
He is teaching me to speak well of it, and to quickly separate myself from any abusive words I or someone else might throw at it.
He is teaching me to be comfortable in it, just as it need to hide.

And not as a target or goal, but as fruit of these things...I am coming to a place of the FEELING of loving it, too.  

Which serves well to increase my excitement in all the things He is teaching me even more. 

Seems like God's pretty smart, eh?

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