Pretty

Samantha Fraser

“At least I’m still pretty” she says silently to herself, knowing that valuing her looks is a symptom of capitalism, knowing she has much more to offer than these eyes and lips, but in that moment relying on them to help her survive yet another day.

She hates acknowledging the fake value of beauty while recognizing that “being pretty” is the only thing in her body she can still control.

Eyeliner doesn’t hurt her the way a storm can. Lipgloss only shines and doesn’t take away her energy, day in and day out. Blush helps her look more alive, especially in those moments when just living is hard. A winged eye is the perfect trick so when she catches herself in the mirror she forgets the agony for the smallest moment in time.

She is flawed and not a pro, but she still knows what colours to sweep on to make her eyes become all you can see when you look at her. She knows her lips are envied by some and desired by others, though all they seem to do for her now is form words of pain, exhaustion, and sadness, again and again and again until she’s forgotten they could ever serve any other purpose.

She clings onto these moments of pretty, never happy to remove the paint before bed, fearing that this is the night the beauty is lost forever. It is her armour, her distraction, her tool to convince all that she is and can be more than the burden she feels.

More than someone held captive by a nervous system that seems to want to punish her for wishing she could ever be something more than this again.

If you get caught up in the sparkle in her eyes, maybe you won’t notice how her pain is all-consuming. aIf you notice the highlight of her nose and how it glistens in the light, you won’t realize that her needs now are many and often. If you notice the ink on her skin, maybe you won’t notice she can no longer give you the world anymore, though she wants to so desperately, because hers has become so incredibly small.

And if you do see her for more than the broken she feels,maybe she can forget.
Maybe she can pretend. Maybe she can find peace.

Until then, at least she’s still pretty.

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Home Run Derby

Toronto Blue Jays

It’s rare for me to feel excited anymore. Fatigue from work, chronic pain, and the pandemic mean that my current happiness comes from predictable places; the Blue Jays on our television, hang outs with the besties, cozy moments at home, or shows and movies that remind me of emotions I haven’t felt in a while. So it’s felt very strange the last few weeks as I’ve felt so excited leading up to last night’s plans, a baseball game catch up with someone I adore.

When my “old friend / ex lover / first person I called Daddy, (even if it was very briefly) and meant it” followed me on Instagram back in January 2021 out of nowhere, I was floored. After our very few in person hook-ups, we ended up being pen pls for years, sending occasional catch-up emails until around the beginning of 2018 when we just sort of lost touch.

When we reconnected this past January, I was consumed for a while with just the memories of our time together. It was also a very welcome distraction from the constant news about the recent insurrection. Talking to him felt odd, like I had to prove to him that I could be interesting again, after feeling like a boring chronically ill burden to all for so long. He made me feel so important way back when, while simultaneously insecure. It’s hard to explain if you’ve never felt overcome with kinky submission with someone. That overwhelming feeling of wanting to do your best, to impress, to be a “good girl”; it might lay dormant for a long while, but it never really goes away. I knew that I could hang out with him now and still find myself doing whatever he might tell me to do. 

He’s in town from his new home in Europe for a month, visiting with friends and family. We were discussing his trip on the ‘gram one day and I casually mentioned that if he wanted to go to a ball game while here, that I would be very happy to take him. Of course I assumed that, as he hadn’t been in the country for a while and had lots of important people to catch up with, he’d be far too busy to waste an evening on me. I was mistaken! Not only did he accept, but he kept telling me how excited he was in the days and weeks leading up to last night’s game.

I arrived early last night to meet him at the gate. It was a yucky humid day, and I have a heart thing, so the last thing I wanted was my first impression, after such a long time, to be sweaty and out of breath. Thankfully, I so rarely feel nervous or anxious anymore in life but, as I sat there waiting for him, I most definitely was. I kept looking in every direction, not knowing where he would be coming from. The anticipation was killing me, but when he finally arrived and we saw each other, he jogged over to me and gave me a huge hug. Talk about comforting! We had to deal with showing our vaccine status and getting inside, and then it was time to reconnect.

At first we wandered around the 100 level, catching up and talking about where things were at with his girlfriend as they had been rocky a few weeks prior. It felt lovely to continue the conversation in person and to hear that they’re likely in a better place than they were. (Hey, I can feel compersion sometimes!) He offered to buy me a drink and, even though I’ve had maybe 7 drinks total in ALL of 2021, I very much felt like I needed one! I awkwardly gulped that fruity “Rainbow Surprise” Palm Bay while we pulled over and chatted at the top of the 100 level for a while, before going down to our seats.

Y’all know how I feel about baseball. The Skydome is my favourite place right now in the city to go to, though in fairness I don’t really go anywhere else that’s not for work. Watching my beisbol boys do what they do best in person is always a guaranteed great time. Considering how well the Jays have been hitting lately, I was excited to watch another hopefully amazing game and also to share it with someone who hadn’t been at the stadium in years. We headed down to our seats, me feeling very nervous and yet also delighted that he was following me down. When he last saw me I looked like a different person, so I was extremely conscious of every movement I was making. 

It wasn’t a date. It couldn’t be a date, and yet … it very much felt like a date? As we headed down the stairs, getting closer and closer to Row 12, I could hear him behind me remarking “Wait, you’re still going?” and of course I was; I don’t fuck around when it comes to baseball and good seats anymore. And I definitely don’t fuck around when it comes to entertaining people I care about. If I’m planning something for you, it will be grand! Well, as grand as my chronically ill self can manage, but still grandish.

We got into our seats and, since I wanted to be close to the dugout, it wasn’t the socially distanced section. There were people in every direction, but somehow after a while I didn’t notice. All I could pay attention to was the fact that he was so close to me, our faces a foot apart when we turned to talk to each other. With the first drink starting to take hold, I felt a bit dizzy … emotionally? He was excited about the game, and of course so was I, but it hadn’t really hit me that we were there together until, well, we were there … together. 

Every now and then I would look around at the almost 15,000 people in the stadium around us. I would find myself surprised that there was anyone there at all because I was so focused on us. Other people just blurred into each other. Both the Jays and the opposing Tampa Bay Rays were wearing their dark blue jerseys and my brain could barely distinguish between them. I was in a daze; both completely present and a part of the very easy and natural conversation we were having, while also internally freaking the eff out. It was honestly the nicest high and I’m grateful for it.

We talked about so many things from our partners to ADHD, a subject he’s very open and knowledgable about. About our families and work and really a bit of everything. We talked about the time he showed up at a January Sucks party and spanked me in the basement. In my mind, I had “dragged you down there and made you spank me”. I’ve held onto this memory that I was pushy and whiny and that he did it to shut me up. I’m not sure why I ever felt that, but he was very quick to correct me that he was very happy to be there. To hear his enthusiasm erase my years of doubt was extremely comforting.

We made jokes about my Daddy issues, we both felt flirty, we complimented each other’s existence, hotness, and ability to be around. I leaned in close to him and felt so comfortable and confident. More than that, I felt validated. I always tell myself that people from my past must not think fondly of me. If they did, wouldn’t we be in touch more? I’ve become a very confident person in my old age but still I sometimes hold onto the beliefs from my youth that I am forgettable. That people only like me because I show my enthusiasm for them so eagerly. I can be an excellent confidence booster. And if that man needed any validation about his smile, his personality, his looks, his entire BEING, girl I could’ve given it all to him. It’s been years but I swear I would’ve done anything he said last night. 

And it’s not that I’m holding onto a vision of a Daddy I’ve placed on a pedestal for years and that I’m not seeing who he is as a real person. It’s his real self that I’m looking at and he is so many things. He is kind, vulnerable, open, generous, honest, caring, direct, funny, and, dare I say, gentle? He’s smart but interested in learning. He knows his value but doesn’t act like the biggest ego in the room. He’s everything I want to be around, and let’s be real, he’s really fucking hot too.

He’s someone that in another lifetime I would have tried to marry, and there’s both a sadness and a contentment in that. I remember my Mum telling me years ago about someone from her past where “the timing was just never right”, but she always felt these intense feelings whenever they’d be able to reconnect through the years. It’s not my place to say whether or not he would ever feel those feelings about me in another lifetime, but I certainly feel them about him. It was nice to realize last night that it wasn’t just because he played my Daddy for a very short time. That was maybe the match, but it wasn’t the whole story of the flame. 

The Jays game, which was sadly not the big hitter spectacle I had promised him, ended early around 9:30. If this was the only time we get to spend together before .. maybe never seeing each other again (??) I couldn’t end the night so early. It was just so easy to talk, to share, and to be around each other that we both agreed we should find somewhere else to keep chatting. (And that’s saying something, considering how pained I usually am, but somehow that took a backseat last night as well).

I drove for a bit and we ended up at Montauk, a bar on the east side of Dundas and Bathurst. The patio was covered and just lively enough. He sat down and, as I went to sit across from him, he moved to the seat to the left of me instead. Little movements and moments like that throughout the evening meant the world. When you grow up as a fat person, it’s easy to be aware of how much other people want (or don’t want) to show that they’re “with” you, whether it’s friendly or romantic, and his lack of hesitation in this regard was another disarming feature. It might be a silly and obvious thing to say, but, well, it’s really nice when someone you like enjoys your company as well.

We shared some yummy snacks and talked more for almost 2 hours. He shared more info about his romantic life, as did I. It was so easy, comforting, and absolutely lovely. The lightning showed up and not long after the pouring rain, so during a moment of drizzle only, we ran to the car. I drove him back to his friend’s place in Kensington, we talked a little more and then hugged goodbye. We made tentative plans to hang out early next week and I really hope we do, but again I won’t go into it with any expectations. And if it doesn’t happen, that’ll have to be ok too.

When I got home I felt … great? Content but also confused? Overwhelmed? Like I was floating? It’s hard to describe. He and I are something that never really was and can never ever be, but the connection still feels very important to me. I hadn’t realized how alike we actually are and it was just another high point to realize that as well.

I woke up this morning feeling a bit lost. Still happy, feeling wonderful, but also wistful. I haven’t “dated” anyone in such a long time and life has become so focused on practical, domestic things – and of course lately pandemic and pain crap. It felt strange to sit with someone who self-identifies as a hopeless romantic, like me. When he told me that’s how he identifies that way my heart both rose and sank. So close, but so far. 

When I did date more, I was constantly living a life of wistful, kinky romance. I can be in my feelings for weeks at a time, almost intentionally making myself feel longing for the possibilities of other lives, other universes, while still being very happy at home. It’s why I had my heart broken many times. When I fall, I feel deep. To be momentarily reminded of that has been thrilling, comforting, but truthfully also a little melancholy.

So I’m doing the thing, and sitting here in my very big feelings. While there are some sad ones in there, there’s also a lot of joy, confidence, validation, and care. And like, ok sure a side of lust because, hi, I’m still Samantha and he’s still fine AF. 🙂

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Choosing Confidence

Samantha Fraser

Let’s talk about confidence. Fat people aren’t supposed to have it. We’re supposed to hate ourselves because how else would the diet industry flourish if we didn’t?

And yet somehow there’s an army of fat babes out there who are working on tearing those walls down, to promote health at ANY size but also the very necessary idea that we don’t owe anyone health and are still valuable if we don’t have it. They are showing us that all bodies are beautiful and worthy and lovable, and that confidence is not, and should not be reserved, for those that only fit into societal norms.

Fat activists talk about constantly receiving messages asking “How are you so confident?” which implies that they shouldn’t be while existing iin a non-normative body. Sure, some people ask because they wish they had their own confidence, but rarely does it come out as anything besides a backhanded compliment. This is why I’m talking about it now.

So. Here’s how I’ve found, and in some ways manufactured, confidence in my body:

1) I trust other people. I know we’re taught that we shouldn’t care what others think about us, but what if they actually think really good things?! I realized years ago, if I don’t believe a person who is sharing nice things about me, essentially I’m saying I don’t trust them, which is both insulting to them and plants seeds of self doubt in me. 

I have to believe that I’ve surrounded myself with good people and those good people mean what they say and say what they mean. (My literal life motto.)

2) I make sure the media I consume includes all sorts of bodies. As Hollywood is slow to catch up, instead I follow a wide variety of people on my social media. Do I look at bodies like mine – or larger than mine – with a critical lens? Not at all. I see them all as landscapes with different valleys and mountains, all offering a beautiful view. The more we see ourselves reflected in our screens, the more confidence we can gain.

Make sure that you seek out those who might mirror your experiences. You’ll notice that you likely want to speak to them in a gentle, kind, and loving voice. The more you do, the more you’ll realize that you too deserve this voice and this kindness.

3) This one is hard, and might sound impossible, but I also choose confidence. That doesn’t mean there aren’t things I don’t like about my body. There are absolutely shapes and lines I’d like to be different. There are spots and wings that I wouldn’t miss if they left. My entire face is crooked and it frustrate me when I have to take 8000 selfies just to get one that doesn’t look lopsided. But these frustrations don’t, and most importantly cannot, define me.

I accept that I may never know what it’s like to live in a normalized body, though I am experiencing more benefits of “small fat” privilege, now that I am smaller than before. In accepting that my experience isn’t reflected in societal ideals; I try to tell myself I am lucky to have a different perspective. I work hard to appreciate it instead of longing for something I don’t have. At some point the garden has to also be green where I am, even if the shade is off.

I must move through every day knowing that my view of myself is often going to be off-balance and not always accurate. I must remember to treat myself with love and not feel anger or hopelessness when I don’t fit. I must honour my body by decorating it with outfits that are made for it in the moment, no matter what size it is. And I must let go of the idea that any physical parts of me I don’t like deserve to take up more brain space than simply noticing them and acknowledging their presence takes.

This is also where I say that I must work on not letting my chronic pain define me. I cannot punish myself because my body is constantly healing. The fact that there is more fat in some places isn’t why I hurt. They just both exist at the same time.

None of this is to say that it’s easy. If it was easy, we wouldn’t have to still talk about it. I happen to be pretty good at compartmentalizing, so thankfully I can put bad thoughts into a part of my brain that doesn’t get a front row seat. They’re still there though. All the external and internal fat-phobia that I’ve collected over the years, it all still has a vacation home in my head. And every now and then it will hulk-smash into the room and leave a big mess behind. 

That’s why confidence is always a work in progress. It’s messy. It has ups and it has downs. There is constant clean up of negativity to manage and we don’t always win. Just remember that in those moments, where the bull most definitely is in the china shop, to keep fighting and treat yourself with the same kindness you show others. You deserve it.

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