I am intelligent.
I am charming.
I am funny.
I am loving.
I am compassionate.
I am fun.
I am kind.
I am talented.
I am fat. Not just overweight. Not just curvy. I am obese. And too often that seems to trump all of my attractive qualities.
I wasn’t always fat. My parents say that I was a skinny pre-schooler. My kindergarten, first, and second grade pictures show a narrow face along with the mussed hair and missing teeth. But the third grade picture? Round face, chubby cheeks. I have no idea what happened in that year, maybe it’s as simple as hormones kicking in.
(How awesome are those red shoes??)Whatever it was, that was the beginning of my struggle with fat. For the rest of my school years, I was overweight. All those years, I thought I was HUGE. My mother frequently patted my cheeks and said, “You’re such a pretty girl. If only you’d lose 10 (20, 30, 50) pounds…” (Ah, the anger just typing that generates!)
I bloomed early. I had a curvy, very womanly figure as early as 6th grade. I don’t remember trying to lose weight but I do remember being very embarrassed by my size and I was teased a lot and called awful names by the other kids. I played basketball in junior high, took dance classes, and sang in choir…but I spent every recess and lunchtime reading by myself.
When I got to high school, I discovered the theater and boys. I had good success with both – played the leads in plays and the second leads in musicals (because the lead can’t be a fat girl, y’know, even if she has the best voice in school) and dated a lot.
When I graduated from high school, I weighed around 170. Yes, overweight for a girl 5’4” with a small-ish frame, but not HUGE. Frankly, I was dead sexy. I was a brick house. I would give my big toes to have that body now!
(1983 was a good year for corduroy and fake logs. And how weird is it that my hairstyle has come full circle - except for the curling iron torture, it looks almost exactly the same now.)
I made a series of bad decisions over the next decade (tried and failed at college 3 times, married the wrong man), which led to a lot of depression and thus a lot of inactivity and comfort eating. I became HUGE. Not cut-the-side-of-the-house-open huge but fat enough that buying clothes that fit nicely is an issue. My body looks now the way my mother made me feel all those years ago.
(This photo is a few years old - the body is still pretty much the same but the hair is soooo much longer!)I have struggled not only with my actual body but also with my feelings about it. I understand that my body is not attractive to the mainstream and yet I feel sexy and beautiful most of the time. Sometimes I want to be a “normal” size and sometimes I am perfectly happy with my body the way it is. I don’t want to be thin – I like my curves and don’t want to lose them. I do want to be healthier, move easier, and be more active…and those things will only happen if my body is smaller.
I had knee replacement surgery on both knees in the last year. There were at least three contributing factors – an injury, heredity, and my weight – but I have to believe that my weight was the major cause. Those surgeries brought me to the realization that my weight is taking a toll on my body even though I don’t have high blood pressure, diabetes, or high cholesterol. So I joined a gym 6 weeks ago and I am getting into the habit of exercising. I am starting to notice small changes and I have lost 6 pounds.
I know that losing weight will make me healthier as well as more physically appealing but there is a part of me that is ANGRY because I have to change my outside before most people will take the time to get to know my inside. I am an amazing, interesting woman with so much to offer – why is it so hard for people to look at me as a PERSON because I am FAT? I am tired of being invisible. Funny thing, that – I am usually the fattest person in the room but people often treat me like a piece of furniture. It’s an amazing and sad thing to witness people’s ability to not see me.
I think I lost the point of this post somewhere. I'm not looking for sympathy or for praise for my current efforts. This was triggered by yet another incident where I was ignored in that way that only happens to those who are fat or disabled. People don’t want to SEE us.
Too bad they don’t realize that if they would SEE me, they would discover someone wonderful.