Fat Women Don’t Look at Art


Ms Mirabile: “Fat women do look at art.”

“She’s massive,” a man says behind me at the British Museum.

Thank you, Britain.

He is talking to his kid. Talking about me. Setting a good example to his kid.

I am not particularly pissed off. I have high self-esteem.  He doesn’t know who I am. He doesn’t know anything about me.

My husband thinks I should go on The Biggest Loser.

Shut up!

But I would lose more weight than anyone on a reality show–I’d be the Katniss (love the name!) of the literal Hunger Games–because I’m very competitive.  (You’re looking at the winner of the Lowden Prize for Latin.)  And then the weight would come right back on.  Yes, that’s how it works.  Talk to anyone on a diet.  You lose, you gain.

I’ve got the dieter’s wardrobe: the size 8 schoolmarm/wedding dress (it doubled for both things) up to…you don’t want to know!

There are so many fat Americans in the Midwest that you don’t hear a lot of chat about fat.  Walk through the mall and you’ll see a lot of fat people.  Walk through a museum and the fat people vanish.  Do they feel good enough to eat a pretzel but not good enough to look at Rubens?

According to the CDC, more than one-third of Americans are obese, and 28.4% of people are obese in my state. Certainly no one in the U.S. is rude to me because of my weight.  People are very polite in the Midwest. It’s beautiful, it’s rugged, it’s windy, it’s cold, and we all give one another a lot of space.  There are eating disorder groups, but, alas, my doctor thinks it would be a bad idea to attend one, because most of the members have borderline personality: “They’re very self-centered and annoying.”  I guess it’s a compliment that I don’t have borderline personality.  I do remember when I taught composition the thin, sad students who suffered from anorexia and even struggled to eat yogurt for lunch.  They wrote their term papers on anorexia. As for obesity, the fat girls ignored it.  Not one of them ever wrote about it.  Is anorexia more acceptable than obesity?

And, as my doctor tells me, I am in better shape than most thin people. I used to be a runner. Well, I stopped 10 years ago, but I still bicycle.  My blood pressure is so low I’m almost not there. My pulse is low. My cholesterol is low.  I do have hypothyroidism, but in a general sense, I’m very healthy.  Being fat does not mean you’re unhealthy.  Much depends on diet (yes, I do eat healthy food) and exercise.

Fat can ruin your life, but only if you let it.

It doesn’t necessarily preclude your flirting, having relationships, or being married.

I did sense in London that a few people judged me because of my fat (most were very polite), but then I didn’t see any fat people anywhere.  Either there are no fat people, or they’re all too neurotic to go out of the house.

I loved London. A beautiful city, gorgeous museums, and it is possible to take a very cheap trip there.  Even with my book-buying and shipping of books, I spent very little.  I am stunned at how little I spent (aside from the hotel and flight).

But it was time to come home, because after being up for more than 24 hours on Saturday, I have been sleeping on every piece of furniture in the house.   But I will go back!  I will see the Tate Modern!  And do so much more…

London with Coffee # 5 & Art

In Manhattan,  Diane Keaton says Van Gogh is overrated.

She pronounces it Van Gog.

Keaton is hilarious as an intellectual journalist.

At the National Gallery, I found myself skipping over the Van Gogh, though of course as a child I loved him and had a print of Van Gogh’s Chair.  I was more interested in other 19th-century painters like Monet, Manet, and Pissarro.

Such a good collection of Impressionists at the National Gallery.

I especially love Monet’s paintings of snow, because I am at home with snow.  It snows and snows and snows where I live.  Here is “Lavacourt under Snow.”

Monet's Lavacourt under Snow

Monet’s Lavacourt under Snow

And here is “Snow Scene at Argenteuil”:

Monet's Snow Scene at Argenteuill

Monet’s Snow Scene at Argenteuil

The colors are lovely and light after the dark paintings of the 16th , 17th, and 18th centuries.

STARRING VIVIEN LEIGH:  A CENTENARY CELEBRATION AT THE NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY.  The trip to London is my mother’s legacy, and Vivien Leigh was her favorite actress.

And so it is appropriate for me to see these photos of Leigh.  Gone with the Wind was my mother’s favorite book and movie.

Vivien Leigh in "That Hamilton Woman"

Vivien Leigh in “That Hamilton Woman”

Of course I know Leigh as Scarlett, but the photos of Leigh in other movies were even more intriguing:  as Cleopatra in Shaw’s Caesar and Cleopatra, as Lady Hamilton in That Hamilton Woman, and as Blanche Dubois in A Streetcar Named Desire.  Oh, Blanche!  What a brilliant movie that was!

So sad to be beautiful and mad.  Poor Vivien!  I remember reading long ago about her madness.  And did Laurence Olivier take care of her, or not?  There are always sad stories about mad women and their husbands.

My mother never went to a museum in her life.  Well, that’s probably an exaggeration, but close.  She had a bachelor’s degree, but she loved pop culture.  She could have been a pop culture critic.    Ladies’ Home Journal, movies (I saw every movie in the ’60s except Darling, which, inexplicably, I was not allowed to see), movie magazines, TV (we loved the fall edition of TV Guide), and musicals (we’d go to community productions).

The apple does fall far from the tree.  No human beings were ever more different than my mother and I.

I love museums, but even I admit you can have too much of a good thing.

There was so much to see at the National Portrait Gallery.  But this is all I have room to write about today.

COFFEE.  I had a cup at a bookstore:  excellent.

I went to Oxfam, a lovely bookstore, but the Virago Online Group who met in London last weekend seems to have wiped them out temporarily.  I had almost everything in the fiction and poetry sections, and I know that’s just not possible…:)  So maybe I’ll go again before I leave.  Oxfam is a favorite with everybody.

Foyles, however, is the best bookstore in the world.  (Well, I haven’t seen all of them.)

And I was out in the London rain today.  Very light, very easy.  I know you have floods here, but this was a spring rain.  And now I understand why English people go for walks in the rain.  At home it’s always a deluge.  So lovely and mild here (so far).