December 6th, 2004

lady electrician
  • amarama

Fluorescent Lights and Echoing Tile

(Cross-posted to amarama.)

The bathroom is the site in which I’ve perpetrated the most evil against my body. I’ve always wanted to do an art show about the terror of the bathroom. There’s something particularly isolating about the echoing tile, mirrors, and fluorescent lights. This environment, combined with social taboos about privacy, all throw everything into ugly relief. And it’s a distortion. We’re taught that the bathroom gives us empirical evidence about ourselves, but it’s really an every-day funhouse. I’ve hallucinated in the bathroom without being chemically altered. It’s an easy place to accidentally fall down the rabbit hole.

I used to enact a specific and complicated ritual in the bathroom when I was an anorexic. Anorexics are nothing but precise people. I’d arrive there at about 6:45 am, after having spent the dark, early morning with Jane Fonda or pounding the pavement for 4.52 miles. I’d strip down and weigh myself, not once, but four times, with the scale oriented differently each time. I’d joke with myself that I was honoring the four directions.* I knew that if a scale is tilted in one direction or the other, the needle can easily tip to the left or the right, giving an inaccurate reading. After taking the four readings, I’d rapidly calculate the mean and then take drastic action if need be. If I weighed more than 115 pounds,** I’d immediately cut my calorie allotment in half for the day, take a large dose of vitamin B-6 to get myself to pee out any water I might be retaining, and carve out time to take another run in the evening.

I also used a tape measure to monitor the circumference of my formerly fat parts to see if they fluctuated from one day to the next. In retrospect, I see this behavior as somewhat healthy and self-preserving, if completely whacked. My body dysphoria was so intense at that time that I had no idea what the boundaries of my person were. I remember the measurements. The largest part of my thigh was 17 inches. This is slightly smaller than my calves are now. My waist was 24 inches and my hips 36.*** I used to hide the tape measure in a dusty box of butterfly bandages on the top shelf of the bathroom cabinet so my parents wouldn’t notice.

Even though I’m recovered now--menses and all--and more than twice as big, I still have similar behaviors. The difference is that now I know where they come from, and how to handle them. I also know that the bathroom can be a creepy, traumatic environment. Just the other day I started to trip out in the bathroom. I had just come back from visiting my ex-girlfriend. I kept trying to talk myself out of falling into a depressive pit, but as soon as I got home, I headed straight for my bathroom mirror. I immediately plucked every visible hair from my chin and between my eyebrows. I started to get overly focussed on the somewhat bi-level nature of my belly. My brain started to whir. I became concerned that I needed to wear restrictive underthings every day, and that I never had noticed up until this point. Then I realized I had to intervene with my lousy thought process.

I turned the lights out and stripped down. I ran the bath and turned up the heat. I looked at myself in the mirror. I noticed how my fat body was interesting and lovely, and how tough, muscular, and strong I looked. I thought about how I was imperfect, both physically and in every other way, and how I was loved and accepted despite this--maybe even possibly because of this. I got in the bath and noticed my cuteness and ethnically appropriate likeness to a pierogi. I thought about how much time I had spent hating my body in the bathroom and how I wanted to spend the remainder of my life doing other, more productive things with my time.

When I calmed down a bit, I realized that the real issue at hand was that I was feeling lonely, heartbroken, angry, and like I had made poor choices with my life. The bathroom was one of the worst places I could have possibly gone, but I quickly transformed it.

I felt really lucky and proud that I could see so rapidly and clearly what was actually happening outside the mirror.

*One wants to believe that anorexics don’t know what they’re doing to themselves, but this is patently wrong. Also note the spiritual practice of asceticism.

**I was a "big" anorexic. This was often used to undermine the "seriousness" of my eating disorder. Note, however, that I had lost 140 pounds in 10 months, and that my menses stop when I weigh under 180 pounds. While I was, in fact, diagnosed, the medical establishment does not diagnose a person as eating disordered based on behavior. They diagnose based on weight, clearly when the person’s body is well on its way to dying. This is completely fucked up. There are plenty of 250-pound women who starve themselves and purge, but this is tacitly encouraged as "positive" behavior.

***36-24-36, what a winnin’ hand! She’s a brick…house!"
lady electrician
  • amarama

Need Unders, hhholiday? Anyone?

So before long, I will need some unders that will be on public display. What I need is the really high-waisted garter-y skirt with 4 garters on each leg that hhholiday once showed me. I also need black thigh-high stockings or fishnets that go up high and fit the circumference of my leg, which is around 35 inches. The thigh-highs that are lower are too binding. I require not much binding on the top of a thigh-high. These stockings should be fairly tough, if at all possible. I may also just cut off some fishnets and try to sew them onto some appropriately sized elastic. I would really, really love some opaque, black, thigh-high tights if they exist in the world.

Any suggestions are appreciated.