Jen Meyers Official Author Site

On the F-word

No, not THAT f-word.

Fat.

At the end of last week, I came across “The F Word,” an article written by Jennifer Weiner posted over at Allure.com. You should go read it now. Just click the link. (Don’t worry, I’ll wait.)

Done? Good.

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?

 

 

 

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6 thoughts on “On the F-word

  1. kindlemom1

    My mom and I were just talking about this the other day. It is so hard to be a woman. To have the right clothes, makeup, accessories, hair, and still be smart, beautiful and thin. To be career minder and to be homemakers too.

    I think somewhere you have to just learn to love yourself no matter what you look like.

    In school I never struggled with my weight. I could eat whatever I wanted and still be that size 4 or 6 I was ‘suppose” to be. Now, not so much. I do have to exercise and watch what I eat or I do gain weight.

    It is funny that you mention not being petite, I am considered petite (I am only 5’3″) and I always wanted to be tall. I wanted to be your height of 5’10”. To have those nice long legs and to be able to reach things high up without help and have a conversation with a tall person without getting a kink in my neck lol!

    I think whether we admit it or not, we always want something that we aren’t. If we are tall we want to be short. If we have straight hair we want curly. Again, it comes down to being okay with who you are. I can’t say I am completely there yet, but I am trying, every single day.

    1. j meyers Post author

      Me, too, Ali. I am (mostly) okay with my body most of the time. But on those days when I’m feeling down about it, I remind myself that this body of mine supported, enveloped, and grew four incredible people and that ALONE makes it a beautiful body. When I was younger I always wished I was not so tall…because I was taller than most boys (and that was a serious bummer). But as an adult I love my height (and am grateful to be able to reach those high shelves!) and stand tall.

  2. Theresa Jones

    Wow! Great post!!!
    If only everyone would take the F-word out of their vocabulary.
    I was a little opposite. I was always small-ish as a child and growing up. It wasnt until I had my daughter and started working at a sedentary job, that i gained… and gained some more weight.
    Unfortunately, we are all shown and taught that only the thin people are beautiful, only the skinniest of us are pretty. and thats not true at all!!!
    I mean, dont get me wrong, im not ok being as large as I am, and I DO want to lose wieght and be healthier, now I just have to find the time… somewhere to do it. When you are a mother of 2, and work full time, and are trying to write in your spare time( haha… is there such thing as spare time anymore?) I just dont really have the time to work out. :(
    Im not Obese… i am larger than i should be, a size 12.

    Anyways, I think we just need to accept how we look, when we look that way.

    GREAT post!!

    1. j meyers Post author

      I think one of the keys to losing weight is actually accepting and loving who you are at the size you are *right now* and not waiting to love yourself at a future weight. And we are all beautiful no matter what size—I know this in my mind, my heart, and I feel it toward my friends and family, but I have a hard time applying it to myself sometimes.

      And thanks, Theresa! So glad you commented. :-)

  3. Pam

    When I was a kid one of my sisters nicknamed me Skinny Minnie (or just Minnie) and my twin Maxie. My twin was a little bigger than me. At the time, I didn’t really think much about it. When puberty hit though, that’s when I started gaining weight.
    It was my mother’s habit to go out to eat for lunch pretty much every day and we’d go along. Most often it was fast food places. And then she would complain if we didn’t “eat our money’s worth” so not only were we in some respects guilt-tripped into eating perhaps more than we wanted, we always had to eat fast because we had to be home in time for her to get ready to go to work in the afternoon.
    Oh and then, we could be out for lunch or shopping and my mom might see a pretty, thin girl and comment about how pretty or thin she is yet she would never compliment any of us on our looks. Personally, she probably thought all of us were ugly and fat, which maybe that was true. I certainly have always felt that way, even when I was skinny because kids would make fun of me just because my twin was bigger.
    I was made fun of in school. Maybe not as much as some others, but certainly enough. I developed a distrust of people. If someone compliments me, I rarely believe it. And I am one of those people who really, truly believes that no one can and will ever love me. As an adult, I’ve never had a boyfriend. Sure, I had the chance once, but I feared it was a joke and refused the guys offer to take me out on a date.
    I often wonder what my life would have been like if I had grown up skinny. I’m not sure that my life would be any better because I didn’t grow up in a loving, caring family. I wasn’t abused or anything, except some verbal abuse, but there just never seemed to be any love there either.

    1. j meyers Post author

      Oh, Pam, I’m in tears. I’m so sorry to hear this was your experience and that you’ve felt unloved and unworthy of love. No one should feel that way. And no child should grow up feeling like that. Verbal abuse is just as damaging as any other kind of abuse. Actually, I think it’s more hurtful than some.

      I hope with all my heart that you will come to love yourself and realize your unique beauty—and celebrate it. You are beautiful and you are very much worthy of being loved for your self.

      I grew up in the land of “clean your plate” too and as an adult it took me a looooong time to realize that I could actually leave food on my plate if I was full (you know, after I learned to recognize that I was actually full).

      So glad you wrote, Pam. *hugs*