I know we haven’t known each other for very long – we were only on the bus for a handful of minutes – and I suppose it’s possible that my weight gain is sudden, but it’s not. I have been hauling this junk in my trunk for probably longer than you’ve been alive. And you’re not the first person (and likely not the last) to call me fat. So not only are you not as shocking as you probably hoped, you’re not terribly original, either.
Not only am I a fatass and a big fat fattie, I am well educated, I have a good job with reasonable hours that pays me well, and I am loved. I go on vacations, I have fancy meals out with my friends, I have a nice apartment in a great building with wonderful neighbors, and a cute little dog who amuses the hell out of me. When I get sick, I can afford to see a doctor. My refrigerator and cabinets are always full. I have the tremendous privilege of free time to read, watch trashy tv, blog, navel gaze, meditate, and wonder about the meaning of life. I get manicures and pedicures whenever I want. I had a fantastic massage last week. I am surrounded by people who love me just as I am.
When I look in the mirror, at my face, I sometimes smile. I like who I am. I even like the curve of my hips and the swell of my breasts. I have managed to extract some self love from the battlefield that is my body. Like yours, my body has been under scrutiny and judgement for most of my life. We both face a constant barrage of images and expectations of what our bodies should be like. We will probably never be enough. Skinny enough, curvy enough, tall enough. We will never be just right. And if we are, or close to it, our reward all too often is harassment from strangers in the street, in the store, on the bus, where ever we have the nerve to be attractive to or noticed by someone in public. From early on, we are watching what we eat, binging and purging, counting calories, measuring inches, thinking about our “skinny jeans,” sold diets and fasts, and scrutinized for what we put in our mouths. And despite that, maybe because of that, your words did not shame me. That’s why I held your gaze for so long after you said it.
I’m not telling you this to one up you. I am telling you this because I wish the same for you. I hope that you grow up avoiding or shedding the judgement and shame that is foisted on your body and runs the risk of keeping you from living fully. I hope you find yourself in 25 years in comfort, with little struggle and lots of love. I am writing this to remind myself, too, that I am so much more than the words you slung.
I could have written the title of this post 25 years ago. The rest, I couldn’t have written until today.