The least butch thing that I do in “real life” is to go to Weight Watchers. I’ve been going for eight months. I do it stealth. I am embarrassed to tell anyone that I joined. The weekly meetings are my nightmare of a straight suburban housewife’s Tupperware party. They even give out stickers for minor victories (Bravo!) and keychain/bracelet charms for major accomplishments. It is a relentlessly cheerful heteronormative environment. It is enough to raise the lint on the back of my flannel shirt.
I have been pudgy since I was old enough to reach the cookie jar. I ate to stuff down my feelings. I denied the correlation between the volume of food and alcohol I ingested and my size. I hid my sex behind a layer of fat.
I never tried theme or fad diets. I subscribed to the feminist anti-diet approach, which works great if you don’t care how much you weigh. I attended some eating awareness groups run by the Women’s Therapy Center Institute; they helped me cut down on bingeing. I read Geneen Roth’s books on compulsive eating. I could blame my inability to make the connection between being chubby and not wanting to be a girl on the exclusion of transgender/butch/lesbian issues from the material covered, but I know I am good as avoiding what I don’t want to see. I don’t want to see a girl in the mirror. Or an elephant.
I go to Weight Watchers because I want to find out what it feels like to be “not overweight”. Is there a word for it other than normal? I want to see what my body looks like without all the baggage.
I didn’t know if I would look more butch, more trans*, or more female if I lost weight. My fear was more female. After I lost 10 pounds I noticed my breasts. They had been camouflaged (from me) by belly fat. When the belly fat melted away, even though my breasts got a little smaller, they seemed more prominent. There is no way to know whether this is just my distortion or reality. It has not affected the frequency of my being “Sir’d” in public, but it is still winter in NYC, and I dress in layers.
Up until recently, my everyday bra was a Champion Sport Wirefree Bra (38C). To get my breasts back in line with where I thought they should be, I had to amp up the compression. After some trial and error I switched to Phoebe by Moving Comfort. Phoebe does the job masterfully. Phoebe allows me to look the way I want to look; leaner and more streamlined. A week after I made the switch, Donna had a meltdown. She was convinced that I had started binding, and that top surgery would be next. She doesn’t want to see anything happen to my breasts. Fortunately, Donna is resilient. She still loves me.
I’ve got a way to go before I reach my Weight Watchers goal. I should get another charm and some Bravo’s on the way. I would like to be able to look in the mirror and see myself without distortion, even if I can only do it fully clothed with Phoebe’s help. I still can’t quite picture myself.
For anyone interested, the picture of me being blessed by the elephant was taken in February 2012 at the Brihadeeswarar Temple in Thanjuvar, Tamil Nadu, India. I was “Sir’d” continuously on the trip despite my lame attempt to not look “too butch”. I was blessed by many elephants; they had seen it all before and blessed me without judgement.