Illustration Via Garance Dore
So, I've been wondering how to write about how uncomfortable I am with New York's obsession with being skinny. For weeks I have thought it feels like all the girls here look like the girls Garance Dore photographs for her blog. (To be fair, it's not just the females, the males are just as bad--I'm merely focusing on my own sex for the purposes of this post.) In our second week I distinctly remember sitting down to Greek food with Darling and asking him if he had seen any fat people in New York?
Before moving, I imagined that I would feel plain. But I have never felt so plain or pudgy as an ongoing personal characteristic and not just a pms thing. It's absolutely superficial, but it's also deeply personal. It's me, my body, the casing for all that I am and that which I present to the world and myself! For the past few years I've been feeling like I had really gotten past my insecurities and body issues (aside from my shopping problems) and felt like I was in a good place with myself but I suppose these things are relative.
It's New York City! Anyone can be whoever the hell they want to be and own it, and they do! And along comes little mountain town, South'rn, country ME and I've felt like Sarah Plain And Tall for the last month. The more I explore the city, however, the more I actually suspect that the East Coast has been invaded by freakishly thin, beautiful, Swedish-model-aliens. Okay, so that's a bit extreme, its not just the Swedish looking ones, it's inclusive across all cultures and ethnicities. They have the uncanny ability to look carelessly beautiful, subtle to no makeup, wearing the most amazing clothes and shoes that are immaculate and rarely trying-too-hard. Swedish-alien-models are also almost always "vegan" or "vegetarian" which I believe has very little investment in animal welfare and is actually just another reason to not eat. Not to mention that it seems much of the population compulsively works out. It feels like a lot to keep up with, and completely unnatural for me to try and do so.
So whatever, I guess that's just how it is, my opinion of what surrounds me doesn't change the reality of what's there but I have experienced these feelings of inadequacy and hyperconsciousness of my physical appearance as a huge, strange part of the culture shock of living here. I felt a sliver of relief today when the aforementioned Garance wrote this post making similar observations, like I wasn't the only one out of my element. Of course, she's coming at it from a completely different perspective; working in fashion, moving from Paris... but I think she accurately describes some of what I see and feel. Although, for the record, I'm giving myself a one-up on her as I think that coming from the South is a much bigger cultural jump than the transatlantic City of Light, no?
We'll see. Don't get me wrong, just read a post down and you'll see that I've been having a great time here, but I'd be lying if I told you there was no adjustment. I also suspect that a lot of my feeling out of place here has a lot to do with me not really having a community. Although I know people here, it doesn't really feel like we're friends in that truer sense of the word. I haven't yet found a job, or found anything to call my own. I feel like a tourist and suspect I will for some time. Currently, my world expands little outside of Darling, Cash and our dog trainer. Don't get me wrong, god, I can't imagine if I were doing this without them! I'm grateful that something is comfortable and homey, but I feel like a little establishment and grounding in the city will make it seem a little less vast.