Sunday, July 31, 2011

Jack McFarland Screwed with My Self-Esteem

At this point in the evening, we'd like to invite everybody else onto the dance floor, okay? Unless your thighs rub together when you walk. Then you can sit tight for the cake. - Jack McFarland

I was only half paying attention to an episode of Will and Grace somewhere around 2003 when this statement almost knocked the wind out of me. As a happy 16 year old, after 6 years of battling body image issues, coming out the other side of puberty, this quote undid all of that. It had unraveled. And I did too.

At ten years old, I was happy and naive. I like "I Spy" books and playing on the school playground with my friends. I was normal. Then, I switched schools. My new next door neighbor was in my class so our parents forced us to be friends. Not that there was anything wrong with her, but if we had just been in the same class, we wouldn't have been friends. She was popular (as popular as you can be at 10). But worse for my self-esteem, she was tiny. A tiny, little thing. With tiny, little friends. I towered at least four inches above them and out weighed them by at least 30 pounds. 

I found myself comparing my body to theirs' constantly. Their thighs didn't shake when they walked. Their knees were knobby and angular, while mine were fleshy joints connecting the parallel lines of my thighs to my calves. The differences wouldn't have been so aware had it not been for track, too. We were divided into weight classes. While the P.E. teacher told us she wouldn't reveal which weight categories we each fell into, my mouth fell open when that went right out the window minutes later and she announced everyone's to the entire class. 

I was in the largest group. My "friends" were in the two smallest groups. 

Throughout the next couple of year, through the hell referred to as middle school, things evolved, but didn't get much better. I distanced myself from these girls as much as I could, but puberty wasn't good to me, padding on 30 pounds in a six month period. And it's every girl's dream in middle school to be popular, so these girls haunted my walks through the halls. They were still everything I wasn't.

They were cut out of my life completely when we went to different high schools. I started eating and dressing better. I made friends who I didn't feel the need to compare myself to. I had a boyfriend. I almost felt cool. 

Then Jack McFarland came and screwed it all up. My thighs rub together, I thought to myself. Does that mean people would be disgusted by the sight of me dancing? I became painfully self-aware of the feel of my thighs against each other.  

And while that feeling still makes me very self-conscious, my best weapon against this quote has been numbers. I am at a healthy weight. According to my doctor, according to the internet, I'm at a healthy weight. I'm at a healthy weight and my thighs have quite the romantic relationship. And more importantly, I am the rule, not the exception. When I start to feel really self-conscious, I examine the bodies of the women around me whose bodies I admire. My triathlete buddy has thighs that touch. My stylish, tiny waisted best friend has thighs that touch. 

So screw you Jack McFarland! If you had your way, you'd probably only have skinny men on the dance floor! Oh hell... how did I not realize this all these years? Of course Jack McFarland would only want skinny men on the dance floor...


But still! Screw you Jack McFarland!