I have always had issues with my weight. Since childhood, I struggled with my body image, and often compared myself to my thinner friends. I developed early – thus attracting unwanted attention from the boys who, only days before, had requested my presence in the neighborhood bike race. Unfortunately, it also attracted the attention of several men in the neighborhood who today, are probably registered sex offenders.
Since the early onset of boobage, I struggled with weight. I was, in fact, chubby until I got to high school when my bones stretched and my height jumped three inches in four years. I know you’re asking, so yes – the boobs stayed. In short, I was stacked.
‘Cept I didn’t know it!!! (in Shug Avery voice)
I spent the next twenty years covering myself in baggy jeans and sweatshirts (think: TLC in the early years), because even then, in my mind, I still had weight issues. It also didn’t help matters that I was being told by close relatives that if I would only “drop a few pounds” I’d be prettier.
Yeah. They actually told me that. Side eye at one person in particular (she married into the family), who said that shit every time she saw me. I wonder whatever happened to her? Hopefully it involved a pack of rabid wolves in heat and a phone booth that locked from the outside.
And I know now that this was a fucked up thing to say to a geeky girl in high school, who was still trying to figure out who she was in the world, and why boys kept pushing her into the “friend zone”. You would never know that shit about me now, since I’m such a smokin’ hot chick.
*looks directly into camera with straight face*
Back then, however, I immediately agreed with that bitch and did some sit-ups.
It was horrible. I was miserable. I was convinced I was un-pretty, and that boys stood in small groups and discussed my numerous flaws. I trudged through years of self-hatred, fluctuating between eating and workout binges. I flitted from one diet failure to another, even becoming a vegetarian for two years and becoming dangerously anemic as a result (because I didn’t know how to cook vegetarian food).
I would cut out entire meals. Work out until I threw up. Deny myself everything that was tasty, in pursuit of a swimsuit model’s physique.
For about a week.
Then, I would give up, order a pizza, devour that shit in record time, and berate myself for eating it. A few weeks later, I would see some cute, skinny woman getting all the action, and would spiral down that same, nightmarish staircase into Hell.
I did this again and again.
I didn’t get over this foolishness (partially, at least) until my thirties. The crazy part about it – it appeared to have shut off, like a light. It was that sudden. I woke up on the day after my thirtieth birthday, and had absolutely no fucks to give anymore about what people thought about me. I wore clothes that actually fit me, put on a little lipstick, and discovered that I am actually, in no uncertain terms, drop dead gorgeous.
Fast forward ten years…
I overheard a friend of mine, complaining about her weight. It is important to know, for the plot movement of this story, that this particular friend is runway gorgeous. No. Seriously. She’s hot. I’d like, totally ask her out if I was gay.
She was going on about how she was getting ready for the summer months, and had to “trim down” and get rid of those “extra pounds”. She lamented the nonexistent thickness around her mid-section, and the size of her ass.
I was dumbfounded.
This is a girl who, had I not recently come into my own fabulousness, I would avoid for fear of being plain in comparison. She is one of those women who almost never has any weight issues – she has been slim her entire life. She could inhale an entire Krispy Kreme store and wash it down with a garden hose of chicken grease, and not gain an ounce.
And she had the unmitigated gall…
I have to admit, I was a tad miffed, to say the least. Did she have any idea who she was talking to? The woman who hasn’t seen the inside of a pair of size 10 jeans since high school? The same woman who once ate an entire rotisserie chicken, then cried herself to sleep in a fit of self-hatred? She couldn’t have possibly thought I would feel sympathy for her, as she sat with her matchstick legs crossed at the knees, her angular arms gesturing wildly.
I just shook my head, and silently wished those legs would ignite, the fire quickly consuming her, curling her blackening form into a lump of coal.
Later, I analyzed my feelings about her comments. I wondered about the nature and intensity of my reaction, for deep inside, I struggled to restrain myself from pushing her into oncoming traffic. Why was it that deep? Why was I that angry?
Well, it’s the whole “grass is always greener” theory. She complains about the size of her ass, but I’m willing to bet that she has never had that horrible feeling that big girls get when they go shopping for clothes. That sense of anxiety, the tightening in the bowels when we can’t get that adorable dress up over our thighs in the dressing room. Or that resignation associated with the knowledge that we will never be able to shop in certain stores – the same stores, ironically, that always seem to have the cutest clothes. That utter disgust when we go to the few stores that do cater to big girls, only to see enormous caftans and flowered mu-mus.
I’m absolutely certain that she’s never been to that dark, cold place where we go when we see old pictures of ourselves and realize that we were gorgeous back then, and we think about all those years we wasted, trying to fit into others’ ideals of beauty.
I know, without a doubt, that she has never been inundated with that never ending, sub-conscious, subliminal message that hums underneath every commercial, magazine ad and billboard that whispers that we’re not beautiful.
Or, maybe she has. Perhaps her comments are an indication that she is just as traumatized by the societal standards of beauty as her thicker counterparts.
My fucking point is that she doesn’t look like she is. She looks, well, like all those other skinny women. Pretty, yes. But, well, one of a thousand women who, on paper, have the same characteristics: thin, long hair, prominent cheekbones, and can wear anything. Women who, whether they know it or not, often steal attention from the rest of us.
I wish she could, for one day, experience what it’s like to be heavier. To walk into a store and draw the “are you kidding” expressions from those bitches at the counter. To avoid certain clothing stores entirely. To deduce, from the “fat girl stores”, that she doesn’t deserve to wear adorable clothes, and should instead, cloak herself in matronly, distracting prints. To be told that she has a “cute face”, and fill in the blanks.
Perhaps then, she would finally be thankful for who she is.
And who she isn’t.