I’ve been reading a lot about identity lately. First I was reading about identity for an art history class and then just for fun. I just finished reading Revolting Bodies: The Struggle to Redefine Fat Identity by Kathleen LeBesco—great book by the way. Obviously from the title, the book was about identity. I’ve also been reading some bell hooks and some other stuff. And, what I’ve decided is that mostly I AM CONFUSED! I’m not confused in the way that someone can tell me who and what I am. I am confused in a way that I seem to have been confused all my life, but I don’t know, is it normal? For me it is.
What am I talking about? Well, okay, in talking about fat identity LeBesco actually discusses this kind of confusion. The confusion where I want to be all fat-positive all the time, but then there are times when I hate myself. There are times when I feel like I just*want*to*lose*weight, but I still want to be a fat activist! lol I want to be a fat activist as long as I can be a skinny fat activist—an ally and not a “victim.” I want to be out and proud about my mental illness, but then I feel like no one will ever want to date me, because they think I’m defective. But, who really thinks I’m defective? It seems like I do. Why do I feel like that? Am I defective? What would it even mean to be non-defective, because I’m not a machine! But then again, people DO think poorly of the mentally ill. It isn’t like most people would purposely pick a mentally ill person as a love interest, and WHAT IN THE WORLD would it mean for a non-mentally ill person to seek out a mentally ill person for a love interest?!?
I also wonder about the whole “health” aspect of being fat. Do I eat too much and the wrong things and not get enough exercise? Yes, yes, yes. So, it is my fault I’m fat. Why don’t I try to be healthier? Why would I reject wanting to be healthier? Because, obviously on some level I do reject it. Maybe not all of it is “my fault” of course. At least I don’t think so. Then I’m being too easy on myself. But why do I have to be perfect?
I’m similarly confused with my politics and my understanding of myself as female. I like being female and I hate it too. I want to be a feminist and at the same time I wonder how I can possibly be a feminist when I don’t support myself fully? Does being a feminist mean you pay for everything yourself? I used to think so, but it seems like I’m still mostly a feminist even though I live with my parents. Another thing is that I have doubts about going full throttle into things. Can I be a good feminist if I don’t go gung-ho? What if, god-forbid, I disagree with other feminists?!?
I’m like this in so many ways…one foot in the door the other out. I have this inner dialogue of contempt for the world and myself sometimes, but then I try to fight that a lot (other times not so much). I truly think that one of the reasons why I love Hello Kitty so much is that I can full-throttle love everything Hello Kitty without caring if it is right or wrong or true or false or up or down to love all things Hello Kitty. I know that sounds absurd, but I think it might be true. I don’t care if people think I’m weird or childish. I just love Hello Kitty! I don’t feel so free in other areas of my life. I try to be fat-positive, I try to stomp out mental illness stigma, I try to align my politics with things that I think are right, but it is mostly tempered. Even my educational goals are splintered. I can’t pick just one thing and get on with it, so I study as many things as I can.
What does this mean for my identity and how I construct it? It is kind of like I’m living in the margins of the margins. I’m marginalized by who I am, and then again I marginalize myself by thinking I’m not fully one thing or the other. I live in the ether, because I refuse or can’t choose to live on terra-firma. Is it easier to live in the ether? I suppose in ways it could be, but it really seems difficult at times. I sometimes desperately desire to say “I AM THIS!” and “THIS IS WHAT I’M ABOUT!” but I can never manage that. I want to know what I’m about. Don’t we all?