For a long time, my only association with the term “talking heads” was the musical group and newscasters (in that order). But as I gained weight, I developed a new fixation on the idea. I thought how wonderful it would to exist only as a head, and maybe hands, without worrying about the body I wanted nothing to do with, and certainly didn’t want to claim.
I thought I was alone in this. I didn’t know other people who were as big as me, and I couldn’t imagine that anyone in a normal body (whatever that is) would understand that feeling. Normal people, after all, had no reason to feel disconnected from their physical selves – or so I thought.
I was therefore surprised when I recently watched a TED talk by Eva Ensler, who spoke about disassociating from her body because of abuse issues; she felt she existed only as a head. The part that made my heart ache most was her comment: “I never had babies because heads cannot give birth.”
Then, in a nice example of synchronicity, I started reading Stranger Here by Jen Larsen, the recounting of Larsen’s experience with weight and bariatric surgery. Early on, when talking about being overweight, she writes about fantasies where she could do away with her body. For instance, in one her head was surgically attached to the body of a model; her old, fat body was left behind without a qualm, because, after all, that’s not who she was.
These stories bring tears to my eyes because they’re so close to home, yet at the same time so drastically different than how things are for me now. It sets up a strange, cognitive dissonance, remembering my earlier loathing of my body while knowing how much I now cherish it.
That cherishing, that embracing of the body as something to be enjoyed and appreciated, is a gift I wish I could give to all those who feel like they only exist from the neck up, for whatever reason.
Sadly, I am not a fairy godmother. I can’t wave a magic wand and bestow that understanding. All I can do is remind others that they are not the only ones to feel this, and that this body love doesn’t come automatically by seeing certain numbers on a scale. It takes effort and courage to be accepting of your body and open to what it tells you, no matter what size you are. But it is also worth every ounce of effort to be a whole person, not simply a talking head.