Photo by @roycedaniel
"Am I thin enough? Am I thin enough?" This question has been driving me nuts since I hit puberty, and this is the picture of my belly above. This is my belly after having two kids. This is my belly at being 40. That's thin enough, right? Nope. Apparently not. I'm still under control of the messages that have been drilled into my head.
The message I heard from my mother was about the value of being pretty, and by being pretty she meant thin. She wanted me to become a model, and models are scary thin, but it didn't matter what you did to your body. The important part was to make money being thin and pretty, either by working as a waking clothes hanger or by marrying a wealthy man who, naturally, wouldn't marry you if you were fat.
Back when I was growing up in Soviet Union, there weren't many commercial ways to brainwash women into dieting like American women were brainwashed (still are). Though Russia has caught up plenty by now. Back in my days of becoming a woman it was women teaching other women what to do. How to drink only buttermilk for a whole week to lose weight. How to smear on your face any fruit or vegetable peelings that you happened to have in the kitchen that day (my mom would walk around with cucumbers stuck to her cheeks and forehead). And on and on and on. I was thin as a stick most of my childhood, but in my teens I finally started getting some boobs and some ass, and then my mother's wish came true. I was scouted out for modeling at 16, picked up on the street at the entrance to a theater school where I was applying to study acting. Lots of European agencies scouted poor Russian girls at theater schools back then, and so I went to a photoshoot where I was told that my ass is too big but my upper part was all right.
I was crushed. I never thought anything was wrong with my body, or at least nobody really told me anything like that straight out. My body was used and discarded and never discussed, but my mother confirmed this when I told her, and then later she complained about my body not being perfect when she would want to use me as a model for her dresses — she is a fashion designer and knits amazing things, though right now due to her bad health she hardly does it anymore.
Well, getting thinner didn't end there...