It got me thinking, I have to say. I’m
slighty somewhat unbelievably and overwhelmingly sensitive to the word fat. Because I was fat as a kid. And no one would ever describe me as petite as an adult. I’m tall—5′ 10″—and I’ve never been smaller than a size 10. (Not for lack of trying, mind you. I feel as if I’ve been trying to be smaller my whole life.)
I have this clear memory of sitting on the floor in my grandmother’s living room, watching cartoons with my sister and brother while my mom and grandma chatted on the couch behind us. My grandma commented, not unkindly, about how I’d gained weight (again) since the last time she’d seen us. I froze, my eyes on the TV, my mind on my grandmother’s words. I wondered why she thought I couldn’t hear her.
It’s ironic how being large can make you feel so. damn. small.
Recently I came across my old medical records from when I was a kid and was crushed (as a normal-weight adult) to have been described as “obese.” It was upsetting to me THIRTY YEARS LATER that I’d unknowingly carried that title.
I have never liked fat jokes. NEVER. They’re not funny, they’re just mean. I hate it when sit-coms go there. Like on Frasier (how ever many years ago that was) when the actress who played Daphne was pregnant in real life, they just made the story line for her character be that she was gaining weight. And then they did fat joke after fat joke about her. For months. I HATED that. And was so disappointed that such an intelligent show would stoop to meanness.
I grew up fat, and even when I lost weight in college—went from a size *almost* 18 (which is what prompted me to join Weight Watchers—it was either that or shop at the fat store, a horror I was not able to just look the other way on) to a size 12—I still saw myself as fat. And even though I was thrilled to SEE my collar bones and *almost* felt thin because of them, I didn’t have a flat stomach (I never have and I’m DYING to find out what that’s even LIKE). I was smaller, but still larger than I wanted to be.
I was also convinced that no one would ever love me if I was fat. And that idea didn’t come from my life experience. I mean, I wasn’t abused or harassed by my family because of my weight. My parents loved me no matter what and they never harped at me about my weight or what I ate. And sure, I was teased on occasion for being fat (a few times even by my friends) but I was never bullied. However, the media I was exposed to (TV, movies, magazines, books) definitely had a loud and clear message: thin=loveable, fat=not-so-much.
I was so worried about it that I asked my first serious boyfriend whether he’d still love me if I was fat. I also asked my husband that same question when we were dating. Because I was so afraid I’d gain weight as I got older or that when I had babies I’d never lose the pregnancy weight.
And even though (outside of pregnancy) I’ve been a consistent size 10-12 for the past 20+ years and did, in fact, lose the pregnancy weight each time (four times, to be exact, but who’s counting?) (Oh wait, I AM) and I’m (mostly) at peace with the fact that it’s HIGHLY unlikely I’ll ever be a size 6…I’m still afraid.
Afraid of growing in girth. Afraid of being unlovable because of my size. (Which I KNOW is ridiculous because I LOVE people no matter what their weight, so you’d think I’d realize the same would hold true for me in return.) (But it’s hard to convince the little fat girl in me that I’m right.)
And maybe that fear is okay, in some ways, because it definitely keeps me on my toes. I don’t gain weight without noticing, and I change the way I’m eating to lose it again. I’m also a fresh-fruit-and-vegetable pusher when it comes to my kids. They’re eating a lot healthier than I did as a kid, and that’s GOT to give them a better shot at not suffering from fat issues like I have. At least, that’s my hope.
In the meantime, fat is not a part of our vocabulary. (And, well, neither is that other f-word, either.)
What about you? Do you have similar or different issues with the word fat or your weight?