WEEKEND Beach Bum
|by Eric Morrison|
|Fat Drag Queen
Move over, Kirstie Alley! There's a new girl in town, and I'm feeling...fat! Since I stopped working out about two years ago, I have put on some weight. I'm making no attempt to hide my weight gain, and I'm not the only one who has noticed. Just the other day, I went to my doctor for a check-up. Since I was unemployed and without health insurance for almost a year, I hadn't seen her in some time. After she finally hobbled into the examination room on crutches, attributing her decreased mobility to a sprained knee, I asked her about a small lump on my back. She couldn't feel the mysterious mass at first, so I began to reach around myself and contort my body as if I were auditioning for Cirque du Soleil. "I still don't feel it," she declared, "although I definitely feel some fatty deposits." Fatty deposits?!? I thought to myself, "How would you like two bum knees, doc?"
My boyfriend has been incredibly supportive regarding my weight gain. He has yet to proclaim, "But there's more of you to love!" I think he recognizes that declaration for what it isa sure death sentence. When I relayed the sordid details of my doctor visit, he cooed, "Everyone has fatty deposits." That makes sense, I guess, but I know that I have more fat to deposit around my body than I used to. My boyfriend was present when I realized the extent of my weight gain, and it wasn't pretty. During my recent unemployment, I ate like it was my job, and I wasn't burning many calories screaming at Judge Judy. When I became reemployed, I knew that I needed some new dress clothes. I was mortified when I tried on a pair of 34" waist dress pants and couldn't even get them hooked. I've lost and gained weight several times in my life, but a 34" waist was the biggest I'd ever been, and I promised myself several years ago that no matter what, I'd never go beyond it. I walked out of the store with several beautiful pairs of 36" waist dress pants.
My extra pounds bother me the most when I'm in drag. Ironically, the appearance of my female alter ego is the very reason I stopped working out. After about three years of regular visits to the gym, I had acquired quite a bit of muscle tone and was beginning to bulk up. People began commenting to me that Anita was looking quite buff, and most real woman are more curvy than rigid. I told myself that I would stop with the weights and continue my cardio regimen, but after a few weeks, that fell by the wayside, too. I had always said that I loved hitting the gym, but I know I was kidding myself. After working eight or more hours, the last thing I want to do is push my body to the limit. In retrospect, my eyes probably got more of a workout at the YMCA than any of my other body parts.
Gone are the days of the green sequin bikini I used to throw on for St. Patrick's Day drag shows, and so much for that skintight black lace dress with the nude lining. Anita's and Eric's wardrobes are overflowing from my closets. Eric has pants with waists of 30", 32", 34", and 36", and shirts in sizes XS to XL. Anita has gowns ranging from sizes 4 to 16, and she's even gone up half a shoe size. Thank goddess for stretchy sequin fabric that fits a variety of sizes! So far, I've refused to get rid of any of my smaller clothing. That would seem practical, but it would also seem like giving up on ever losing the weight I've gained. That's not a concession my tender and stubborn ego is willing to make.
I know how to lose weight and keep it off. I've done it several times during my life, starting in high school, when I began eating better and walking a mile or two every day. In fact, I've probably lost a total of about 120 pounds in my life. Each time I put my mind to it, I know I can do it, with proper diet and exercise. Despite the millions of dollars spent by Americans each year on "miracle" weight-loss drugs and drastic surgery, the fact remains that most people can slim down and keep it off with simple diet and exercise. Every time we buy a diet pill, we're buying into an illusion. We just don't want to admit the ugly truth that to achieve long-term weight maintenance, we cannot always go back for that second serving or camp out in front of the television every night. I don't watch that much television anyway, but I'd rather curl up with my cats or a good book instead of a BowFlex.
Although I'm the heaviest I've been in my life, it's still more about vanity than anything else for me. I'm certainly not obese, and perhaps I should be grateful that it is pretty easy for me to take off weight when I make a conscious decision to do so. I've known people who could eat a leaf of lettuce at every meal and run from here to Maine every night, and they still couldn't shed a lousy pound. Still, as I move into my thirties, I do find myself thinking more about my health. I gave up drinking alcohol over a year ago, and I thought that would help me lose some weight. I also need to stop smoking, but I really don't want to even though I know I have to, and, I tell myself, I'd probably really pack on the pounds then. Lung cancer or going from a size 16 to true plus sizestake your pick!
Truth be told, I'm really not that upset about my weight gain. I just like to bitch. I honestly believe that the most beautiful parts of a person are on the inside. In a world in which hundreds of children starve to death every day, the last thing I should do is complain that sometimes I eat too much or that I've had to buy a bigger wardrobe, when some people cannot even afford clothing. Still, we live in a very body-conscious society. Contrary to popular belief, a man suffers psychologically and emotionally when they are overweight, tooespecially when that man likes to dress up like a woman. I know that when I'm ready to take off the weight, I can and will do it. I just have to decide if I want to find the motivation to do it, or if I'd rather find a bowl of ice cream and the remote control.
If you want to make Eric feel better, email him at email@example.com and tell him how thin he looks today.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 15, No. 3 April 8, 2005