Before you start screaming, "No!!!!! Oh my god!!!!! You're not fat!!!!!!! You're beautiful!!!!!!!!" know that "fat" and "beautiful" are actually compatible. I've struggled with my body image for, pretty much, as long as I can remember. I swelled up like Violet Beauregard from "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" around the third grade. Partly due to eating habits, partly due to genetics, either way, it's something I just have to live with.
During the summer before 5th grade, I remember my friend and I were on a camp field trip to a waterpark. Now, waterparks are generally a breeding ground for general anxiety, but any time I had to put on a swimsuit in public I felt like the whale that swallowed Jonah, if Jonah were 4 slices of pizza (an apt
We spent a portion of the afternoon comparing our body types to the rest of the people at the park; we determined that I was "skinny fat," that's fatter than some, not as fat as others. As I would try on a medium, then large, then extra-large dress, buttons and zippers still straining, I somehow never quite believe I was "skinny fat."
In high school, I was incredibly involved in theatre, as any good fat nerd should be. Offstage and in the dressing room, every conversation would eventually plummet into the inevitable tirades about stomachs, boobs, thighs, even joints and things like ankles and elbows. Who knew you could be insecure about elbows?!
So there I am, just under 200 pounds of sheer self-loathing in the corner, usually in the midst of putting on a costume that was determined to crush my rib-cage, and imploding my lungs, thinking about how disturbing my body must be if everyone else hated their seemingly normal bodies so much.
Now, I'm in college, and it comes with new anxieties. However, like the Girl Scouts motto goes, "make new friends, but keep the old." I still have days when I wish I could punch my stomach away (ineffective), or days during which I am so hyper-aware of how much more space I take up than some people that I want to retreat into some sort of shell. Like a tortoise that suffers from social anxiety.
I still compare my body to those of my friends, those of people I pass on the street, hell even some professors who are just in great shape. Though most of the time I am too worried about assignments, my major and the huge existential question that is my future, I still hear false prophecies from hushed voices, whispering that I'm ugly, undesirable, undeserving, unlovable, disgusting, shameful and more.
Last year, in my poetry class, I wrote this poem about my feelings. Feelings in a poetry class? Really? Yes. Lately, I've felt a resurgence in these negative emotions. I also know I'm not the only one. In sharing this poem I hope to remind myself that I am OK, and that if you are also struggling, I am right there with you.
I inherited my figure from my father.
His long legs, full face, and a belly round
enough to warrant a boy in my third grade class to ask me
if I was pregnant,
or just fat.
Ah, the impetus of self-hatred.
When I was younger I actually used to admire my legs.
Slender foot led to slender ankle
led to calves curved like a pulled-back bow.
I loved to see my thighs kiss at the top.
Eat a vegetable or die.
When I was 11 I got so jealous of my best friend’s
Aphrodite body, that I told her to go fuck herself.
I refused to die of a cholesterol-related heart attack
before I turned 21.
Are you fatter than a fifth grader?
We sit in that same friend’s living room,
and flip through the yearbook to find perfect couples.
My match made in heaven, the only other fat kid,
bred iguanas for sport.
I learned that I’m just my stomach and double chin.
My uniform shorts are warring with
The potbelly that has been passed down to me.
When I tear them off at the end of the day,
They’ve left etchings and creases in my skin.
I thought puberty would make me hot.
People are right when they say I look like my father.
I trace the outline of my body in the mirror.
We are the same; only his size makes him a fortress,
And my size makes me feel undesirable.
10 easy ways to hide your muffin top!
If I could dance with my bingo wings spread open
And every ounce of cellulite in this bulbous body
Could bounce to the rhythm of todays greatest hits
Without me feeling like this year’s Goodyear blimp,
I would probably wear my feet into stubs.
When I was younger, I thought fat and beautiful
Were mutually exclusive.
Hell, part of me still does.
So like man discovering fire,
I am learning not to be afraid.