When I sit down to write, a lot of the same themes present themselves to be seen and to be dealt with. I’m drawn to certain experiences and not others, and even when I try to force it, perhaps especially when I try to force it, like when I try to write about the places I travel to— beautiful cities! new people! spicy experiences!— it doesn’t actually reverberate true for me. Because here’s the thing: wherever we go, there we are. My writing isn’t interested in the scene or the condition, it’s interested in who my personhood is regardless of the place, regardless of the situation. Who I am in line at Trader Joe’s deciding between the last minute peanut butter cup purchase and who I am in Mexico (drinking all of the wine coolers— no decision necessary) is the same person. And she’s still got a lot to say.
For a number of years, I’ve thought that returning to the theme of body, of womanhood, of appetite and food would feel redundant and whiny. In many ways I come from and have retained a place of privilege, and my particular story of wounding looks a lot like a lot of other women’s, especially women who have the basic needs met so they can be affected by more transcendent, less concrete forces; if you don’t have enough food, shelter, or security, you probably could care less about the culture’s expectations of the feminine ideal. But then again, maybe you still would. It’s that pervasive and toxic.
This thinking is something that so many of us deal with when we get close to a pursuit that’s worthy of our efforts. I call it resistance, you may call it reason, reality, or self-doubt, but it’s all the same and it keeps us small, worried, and unchanging. It perpetuates. We’re all made up of these different parts, and when we do something or choose to believe something different than this particular part has had us tethered to, it comes back in full force demanding that we don’t abandon it, even when it’s harmful, even when it’s crazy-making.
It’s lunacy to think that the subject of body and the feminine idea of perfection has run its course, that we know what we need to know and we’re good to go. I don’t know a single woman who hasn’t dealt with or isn’t still in the throes of feeling unacceptable on some level, of feeling like her body or self is a project needing constant tweaking and adjustment, never good enough.
A good rule of thumb is that when something returns, it has more to teach; nothing ever dies that still has some truth to spout. May we listen. May we learn.