“My blouse gaps. My zipper may not close. I make my fingers sore forcing it up. My sides and belly have a deep red ridge in them after a day of that. My pants wear out on the inseam, thinning and splitting where my legs rub. I have to walk delicately, as if that were possible, as if I met only at the crotch, as if the whole of my legs weren’t intimate with each other, rubbing together just as my arms rest on my breasts and my breasts rest on my belly. The clothes can’t get into every fold and separate every layer of flesh from itself. The dark blues can’t camouflage me, the vertical stripes can’t hide me, and no foundation garment can keep me in.”
This passage is one that has resonated with me, more so than any other in our class. As someone who has struggled for years with bad relationships with food and my own body image, this paragraph speaks volumes. My fatness depends on who you ask about it. If you ask the small cartoon version of myself that lives in my mind, she’ll say go look in the mirror and find out. If you ask my father, he will say something that when you read in between the lines, means yes. If you ask my mother she will say no. If you ask my sister, I suppose she will say no (we are basically the same dimensions so i’m not too sure how she would see me). If you asked my grandparents (when they were still living of course), they would say no. If you ask one of my female physicians, she would say “well she was fat 20 pounds ago”.
I would see other girls my age who looked so different from me and it would just fester in my mind. I was also an early-ish bloomer in comparison to some of my friends. I was also genetically burdened (or blessed, depending on your outlook) with larger breasts than most of the people I know. This meant I got more dirty looks from a younger age. Moms at the pool would glare at me because my chest looked a little too grown in bikini tops. For the majority of my adolescence I was trying to figure out how to make my body look like those of my friends, who were all at least 5 inches shorter and 50 pounds lighter than me. Getting told “are you really gonna eat all of that?” or “do you really need to be eating right now?” are some phrases that echo in my mind, even though they were said to me almost 10 years ago. These comments seem to materialize whenever I dress myself or look at my laundry. My ungodly tight Madewell jeans seem a little tighter than usual. I look in disbelief that my shorts are a size 12 when my leggings from the same store are an 8. I notice that most of my wardrobe is loose fitting clothes in neutrals, to distract from my body underneath. I pose myself as to hide the parts of me I don’t like, which gets hard when you don’t have much of yourself that you like anymore. From whenever we form a conscience, we are shamed out of ourselves. These negative ideals swarm you like mosquitoes until every positive thought has been evicted. You are reminded of your shameful body every time your thighs chafe, or your clothes are left in the dryer too long. This body is harassed from doctors, fathers, mothers, friends, as well as internally. You try to drown yourself in black or navy blue, wearing sports bras to bind your chest, “shaping” spandex to reign in your flesh. You skip a meal here and there, take the stairs more, drink more green tea. But no matter how well you try to conceal it, something always ends up spilling out. I like to think that when you become a womyn, is when you can climb back into the mind you got shamed out of so many years ago. You finally realize that you are fat, and simply don’t give it a second thought.
One thought on “Fatness and fitting in.”
I was considered medically overweight for most of my childhood, and even into high school, even after I had lost the weight, I was socially overweight. Your post rally struck a cord with me and brought back some memories that I suppose I failed at repressing fully. My mother would always say to the other moms that I was just ‘big boned’, being tall for my age too gave her some linguistic leeway to direct the conversation away from my weight. Also when you spoke about your appearance being demonized because you were an early bloomer reminded me of the section of Zami when Audre Lorde describes her mother’s deathly fear of her never getting her period. There seems to be this established idea that all women must develop at the same time, and must look the same while doing so.
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