Meaningful beauty

[Trigger warning: eating disorders]

One of my biggest challenges during my recovery hasn’t been physical. That part of the process was relatively easy. A week or so of moderate pain post-surgery but nothing too serious, and no real complications progressing my diet. SCORE. The worst part has been mental. My achalasia progressed quickly and severely and I lost around 120 pounds throughout the whole ordeal. Twenty of it was during the two months I waited for surgery. A small portion of the weight loss I can contribute to running but I’m unsure of the timeline. I started running and exhibiting early symptoms of achalasia at roughly the same time. By July, my exceptionally bony shoulders were prominent and by September, when I had surgery, my skin was paper-thin and bunched like fabric when I moved. I was severely dehydrated; it’s anguish, not being able to quench your thirst. You drink and drink and the water doesn’t stay down and you just want to not feel thirsty anymore. You can’t concentrate on anything except how badly you want to drink an entire ocean of water.

So that was my life for a few months. Now I’m better and I can eat and run and do pretty much anything I did before, except not have water at my side 24/7. But you see, my brain doesn’t have a logical way to handle the difference between restricting food because you are physically unable to eat and restricting food by choice. Because all I thought about when I couldn’t eat was FOOD and how I wanted to eat FOOD and also drink WATER, I became unhealthily obsessed with food. I worried about getting better because I worried about gaining weight. I became terrified of my body. I hated its inability but loved that if fed my disorder. It made the things I had been unable to do in the past – that is, starve myself to lose weight – possible without any of the trouble. All the benefits of bulimia with none of the judgment! It was fucked up. My psyche ran with it.

Enter today, four months post-surgery. I’ve gained 22 pounds. The saggy, thin skin and deathly pallor are gone. My face has filled out. I have energy, and I can run again. I estimated my weight before I went to the doctor on Friday and was off by quite a bit. I can’t buy clothes because I don’t know what size I am and I don’t know how much weight I’ll gain. Buying groceries is difficult; I forget that I can eat foods and I have a hard time deciding if food sounds good to eat. My stomach growls and I eat something easily available, or I get incredibly nauseated and eat and it serves the same purpose. Food and I are not relating well these days.

Which brings me to meaningful beauty. Flipping through channels this morning, I saw a commercial for a skincare line “by” Cindy Crawford called Meaningful Beauty. It’s a cleanser, a moisturizer, some beads of serum or something, and one of those battery-operated facial scrub brush. All of it returns you to “meaningful beauty” but they never once tell you what that is. I mean, we all KNOW what it is: youth. The illusion of youth. I’ve been given enough anti-aging samples and purchased enough anti-aging products to know what the “secret” ingredient is: shimmer. It might work on some women but on me, I just look really shiny. In the commercial, it made Cindy Crawford look really shiny and shimmery. Is that meaningful beauty? Can’t we just age?

I’m not sure how I’d define that, meaningful beauty. I’m inclined to say it’s your soul and all the little bits and pieces that make you a You. Objective beauty has so many shades and influences and suggestions ingrained in it. I find so many different aesthetics appealing, how can I possibly single out one as the most meaningful? Society is constructed in such a damning way for all genders.

In other not age-shaming news, BASEBALL IS COMING. February is right around the corner and that means pitcher and catcher report SOON. The Giants FanFest is a few weeks away; Sigot and I are going, as is tradition. It’s the best place to score cheap ass Giants gear; I’ve scored some great Brian Wilson gear the past few years for like, NO MONEY. This year, FanFest will be madness. It always is after a Series. And then spring training starts. Then the first game of spring training. Then the exhibition back in the Bay between Oakland and SF. Then opening day. Then opening day at AT&T Park!

BASEBALL.