HOW TO BURN FAT, typed into Google, the results endless and insulting and obvious, the reality awkward and sad and scary: Women of the Internet who are showing off your body-sculpting progress please be alerted to the women at home who are watching you. We are either one of two parties: 1) Sculpted and proud of you 2) (At least mentally) Fat and envious.
Kara posts an image to Instagram. She is holding her bike helmet, “find the thing you love to do and then do it. Then, let yourself love it further.” She’s an inspirational woman.
The caption should include a miraculous story about how biking has changed her body because that’s the kind of story that attracts attention and praise on social media. Problematically, I do not have the fit body that I imagine Kara would starve herself for.
I took the day off yesterday because the research and imitation had gotten to me. I wondered about the extremities of transformation.
A complete transformation into this character has to include a mesmerizing transformation of my own body. In reality, Kara would be beating herself thin everyday. In reality, I have beat myself fat everyday just trying to be thin, not just for this experiment, but for my entire life. I straddle the impulse to use Kara as an excuse to adopt extreme dieting habits in an effort to lose weight before she has to sit on camera to shoot the web series we have planned for her. I’ve spent late nights, entire nights, researching the fastest ways to burn fat, imagining my sinking ego tangling itself in the construction of another woman’s body.
It would have been ten years ago that I was still patterning starvation with the abuse of laxatives. When I was eighteen years old, I learned that I have no gag reflex. I vividly remember the night I spent in my dormitory washroom, the handicap stall with the ledge so that I could spread my tools comfortably, the tooth brush, the straw, the spoon, all things I would shove down my throat, already knowing that my fingers don’t work because I, for some God blessed reason, have no gag reflex. I had already abused diet pills and laxatives throughout high school. Clearly, I was approaching a more practical life plan.
Not for lack of acceptance, I do not believe I ever really had an eating disorder. I have known women with eating disorders and the true neurosis involved in clinging to a sense of control via the management of one’s own food intake is terrifying, disastrous and tragic in a way that I had never gotten to know. I have only ever gone as far as hunting for attention be it for my bad habits or for my hopefully sudden fantastic weight loss. Always the conclusion would find itself, I am not a control freak and, actually, impulse control is an every day challenge for me, wrestling with the abuse of alcohol, cigarettes, caffeine, food, normal shit that happens to be in front of me, constantly over-indulging for a variety of reasons, certainly not the type of person to gain a compulsion towards not consuming things.
Kara’s history with her image is different than mine. She was a born beauty and, if she ever doubted it, it’s clear she’s developed a confident means of adjusting the way she looks. I’m wondering how we would have grown up looking differently from one another. What would she have done differently with our looks?
Looks are so easily constructed, it’s become hard to assess if it’s worth it to try adjusting ourselves to fit in. The born-beautiful can easily paint themselves more beautiful. The born-strange will always have a hard time keeping up. If I were to lose fat, let’s say all my fat, if Kara were to be a pin-legged, rock-hard, cheek-bone kind of woman, we would always have a weight loss story. She used to be fat, did you know she lost a lot of weight, she had to catch up, she had to change herself so that People would like her, always an underdog, but at least finally able to lift her shirt, show off her stomach and announce that she has become an acceptable model of beauty.
So much work goes in to transformation but the people we’re transforming to look like will always be the judges, the advice givers, the role models and, from what I can tell, they are hardly the type to work on their moralistic personalities. I all of a sudden want people I don’t like to look at me and congratulate me.
Fully committed, with a plan that I’ve made, I will burn fat and be smaller but, personally, my friends don’t care. In fact, it might be that my friends would find the mission slightly annoying, a new obsession with my body when I’m ordinarily obsessed with my work, with crafting other people, for the sake of other people’s consumption of a final message that has nothing to do with Burning Fat.
Burning Fat would be a new focus from my already active life. I move a lot with and without my dog but I have never curated my diet and daily activity so that it targets the ultimate goal of Burning Fat. To be clear, I’m not sure I am Fat but, I of course have Fat and I can feel it more and more every day. The middle-school-fat-girl impulse to find a way to literally cut it off is coming back, looming over me at night, the same way I used to lie there and pray to wake up in a separate body, now I speak endlessly to Google about how my tomorrow will shape up so that I can Burn Fat.
I took the day off yesterday because I wondered if I was slipping into an unhealthy, juvenile obsession with literally becoming someone else but, no, this is just the question I have had since I was an ugly little girl: Can I become someone else? Is it possible? A few hours a day with a wig on is not really getting me as far as Burning Fat. A few hours a day with a wig on still holds Kara at the punchline of a joke every time I take off the wig. More commitment. More time. Entire days. Approaching the unrecognizable, it’s clear that Burning Fat is something Kara knows she can do, her confidence making the goal a sparkling fact of the future. I criticize whether or not it’s important. It will not instigate personal growth, necessarily, not the kind I’m interested in, it will only push us further towards fulfilling popular expectation. And, Kara yells “I know. Yes. I know!” And we eat an egg. We drink water. We don’t buy beer today.
This blog is updated daily, detailing my transformation into a fictional character who is being crafted for a larger theatrical project. If you like it, please share to social media, follow the blog and come back soon
You can read Kara’s blog at http://www.okkarablog.wordpress.com
or follow her on Instagram @karakarrara