I’m pregnant… or at least my customers think so. Imagine this: you’re a meeting a female stranger for the first time, and you’re trying to think of what to say. “Nice tits,” is probably out. “Wow, you have a really big head,” doesn’t seem like the way to go. “Hey, you’re a little fat,” won’t work either. No one with any sense of manners or tact would say any of these body-related comments upon meeting someone for the first time, so why do so many of my customers ask me if I’m pregnant?
Yes, I have gained some weight. Being in residential treatment for an eating disorder will do that to you. I’m heavier now than I’ve ever been in my life. But I’m also happier and healthier than I’ve ever been. I’m in school working on a major I love. When I was in high school and my anorexia was at its worst, I was barely scraping by in my classes because I was too preoccupied with how I was going to avoid eating lunch, how many calories had been in my breakfast, and the nightly anxiety attack that was dinnertime. This semester, I finished with a GPA I’m very proud of and worked hard to achieve. Maybe there was a little more weight under my backpack, a bigger self sitting at my desk while I studied, but in the end, getting A’s in my classes meant a lot more to me than any number on a scale.
My weight hasn’t affected my love for photography or for writing. The extra pounds I’ve put on don’t bother me at all when I think of them next to the ever-increasing word count of the novel I’m writing. I’d rather worry about how I’m going to add 1,000 words to my next chapter instead of how I’m going to cut 1,000 calories out of my intake today. My weight hasn’t affected my ability to make a good photograph. In fact, I’ll be shooting my first bar mitzvah in February. Had I been the anxious, self-hating person I once was, I would have shied away from the opportunity, thinking I wasn’t skilled enough to do it. There was a time when I was so underweight that being on my feet for all that time would have been exhausting. Will I have to buy a bigger pair of slacks for the occasion? Yes. Will I let that bother me or keep me from doing it? Hell no.
It irritates me when strangers assume I’m pregnant, even though I try not to let it. But what bothers me the most about it is that people seem to think they have every right to comment on my body. The customers I see at work don’t know my story. They don’t know that I battled an eating disorder that could have killed me for five years. Sometimes, I wish I could tell my story to these customers so they would see just how erroneous their comments are. But mostly, I just wish we lived in a world where women’s bodies are not treated as public property. My body is not a point of conversation at the register. My body is the vehicle to my dreams, and I intend to let it take me to them.