Eating the Fat Girl

“Look at you Miss Skinny Girl!” she said.

I shrugged and smiled as I turned toward the kitchen sink.

“Thanks. It is coming along. Slowly but surely I am getting towards my goal.” I said as I handed her the spoons for the parfaits she was preparing.

In front of me, on my kitchen counter was a mixture of fat-free and sugar-free pudding, fat-free cool whip, strawberries, cherries, fat-free chocolate sauce, strawberry sauce and teeny tiny chocolate sprinkles.  T was preparing our dessert – low calorie parfaits – as I loaded the dishwasher and cleaned up from our dinner.  T’s significant other and my husband stood by and chatted with us while we worked.

“It was a bit challenging to pick the right dessert with you doing Weight Watchers and Suz eating low carb but I think I did a pretty good job” T said to my husband.

“Oh, it’s fine. It looks fantastic. Even if it wasn’t, we splurge once in a while. I just work out more than usual.” Hubby said behind me.

“Same for me” T says. “Honestly,” she continues “I can only lose weight if I am working out”

“Suz has proved my previous theory wrong. I was under the firm belief you can ONLY lose if you exercise, yet she has lost nearly sixty pounds and only recently started working out” hubby shares.

“Oh, you have to work out Suz. You need to tone up those muscles, that sagging skin” T offers as she plinks the maraschino cherry on top of my parfait.

“That is what surgery is for.” I joke. As I say that, I remember the conversation hubby and I had earlier in the day.

“Oh, T, I thought of you earlier today.  I wanted to ask you a question. Since you have personally experienced a significant weight loss following a lifetime of being overweight, I figured you would be a great person to ask.  Hubby and I were having this discussion earlier today and we did not agree. You can settle the argument.” I laugh.

“Gee, thanks. Do I want to know what the question is?” T responds with her own laughter.

“Oh, yeah, it is nothing controversial.  It’s about weight loss.” I offer as I pulled the maraschino cherry off the top of my parfait. I once read a revolting story about those cherries and have been unable to ingest one since. I put the cherry on my husband’s dessert plate.

“So, what is it?” T asks.

“Well, quite bluntly, do you ever stop feeling like the fat girl?” I ask.

T responds quickly.

“Nope. Not at all.” she says.

“Seeeeee” I say to my husband. “She agrees”.

“You ate her” T says.

Hubby and I are both surprised, uncertain we heard her correctly.

“What?” I respond.

“You ate her along with all the other things you ate so she is inside you.” T offers.

Hubby starts to debate with T and I turn away to take more dishes from the dining room.

Ate the fat girl? Did I eat her? Am I eating her now? Can I pass her? I laugh to myself at the suggestion.

I wasn’t always a fat girl. In fact, if one were to look at pictures of me as a young child, you would likely struggle to say I am fat, overweight, or even chubby.  Yet, even with that proof, for some reason I grew up with an identity that included being fat.  I was the fat smart kid my parents produced. My siblings knew if they wanted to reduce me and my stellar intellect to a puddle of blubbering tears, they could do so by calling me fat.

As puberty hit, my weight, my curves, my large chest became even more obvious.  Add a teenage pregnancy, the socially constructed view of an attractive woman, and finally two additional pregnancies and yeah, I am finally officially fat – at least finally by my own standards because according to society and my family, I have always been so.

Not anymore.

Maybe?

In the past 18 months I have lost close to seventy pounds. I am not quite at my goal but I am confident I am going to make it. My husband, coworkers, friends and family comment on how much I have lost, how great I look, etc. They ask me how I feel and when I think about the answer to that question I find myself responding “I feel the same”.  I don’t feel like I am any different. I am still the person I was. I am still the fat girl. I feel the same.

My clothing size has decreased by eight sizes. I know I have lost weight by the clothes I wear yet when I look in the mirror, when I think about me, I don’t feel like I am any different. Other than some bags under my eyes that were formerly filled with fat, I am the same. I feel the same inside. I am still me. What the world may see, how they may view me, may have changed, but for me, it hasn’t. Is it supposed to?

Hence, my question to my friend T.

Do you ever stop feeling like the fat girl?

As I was pondering this, and my life long identification as a fat girl woman, I reflected on the other socially constructed aspect of my being – that of a “birthmother”. I noticed a very curious juxtaposition.

I am no longer “fat” (by the standards used to measure me for the past 40 something years) and probably wasnt for most of my life. I always felt so and still feel so.  Fat is my identity.  If anyone were to say otherwise, I would give them an odd look.

I am (by society standards) a “birth” mother but to myself I am without question my daughters mother. I always felt so. I never stopped feeling so.  Sure, I am not her parent but I am her mother. For individuals who say otherwise, I might suggest a mental health checkup. I don’t care what her amended birth certificate says. I am talking about what I feel deep inside.

What can I learn from these two experiences? 

Not sure yet. The thinking (and weight loss) continue.

12 Thoughts.

  1. wow! lots to think about.

    this is all self image stuff. i have never thought of myself as “fat” even though at one time i was 70 lbs overweight. currently, i am 35 pounds over weight and still do not see myself as “fat”. nor do i feel the need to diet and/or exercise to lose weight.

    on the other hand, i don’t think of myself as my daughter’s mother. i did not raise her. in my mind, i identify myself as her “birth mother”. even though i think of her as my daughter because she is so much like me. i just don’t have the same bond with her that i have with my raised daughter.

    geez, why you wanna make me think like this?

    • Lol. Didda. You made me laugh. I do find it interesting and hope you will comment more on it. Your opposite view of mine is intriguing.

  2. Wow that is an amazing accomplishment, congrats!

    Interesting, I have never identified with being fat. I didn’t start packing on weight until about age 24. I feel like a thin person, trapped inside a fat body. I’d like to lose about 55 lbs. Doesn’t seem like all that much, but then why can’t I do it?

    I think that is very healthy that you do not identify with being a “birth” mother. I’ve always hated that word. Makes me want to vomit every time I see it.

  3. Where is the kleenex? You live too far away to hug you in person. Whoa. I think I started holding my breath somewhere around the marachino cherry and only realized it because my fingers got tingly… I’ll come back to this post, you can count on it.

    • Would love your thoughts Rebecca since you have experienced similar body self image issues. I am definitely curious how others have felt.

      • I could talk about this subject until I am hoarse! So much of my self image has NOTHING to do with my body. In many ways “the fat girl” that I haven’t left behind is the “unwanted, unloved” wee baby that was adopted. (I touched on this briefly in my about me post earlier today), The “fat girl” is an easier, more socially acceptable title/explanation because people who know I’ve been reunited think all that adoption stuff must be fixed by now, right? Being fat or now formerly fat, is easier for others to relate to and psuedo-understand. Interestingly, I “got fat” while Mom C and I were estranged, but I think you might have realized that without me telling you… It’s all so complicated! I still think I’m not good enough, most days but as time goes on as a size 4-6, I think it’s more about the pain that led to me being fat, rather than the fatness itself. (i’m rambling aren’t I?) I’m still struggling to sort it all out. The biggest thing I don’t know how to deal with is the attention. Looks and comments and so on. I’d be lying if I said I am the same person on the inside as I was when I was fat. In some ways I’m healthier and more healed, in many ways. not so much. The fat girl dilemma really gave me the final push to come back to blogging. I have to say that I’m glad I didn’t automatically fall in love with myself because I’m skinny now. How shallow would that have been??? I’m na work in progress and as the blog title says, reinventing myself. No matter who I am, I will always be grateful for the huge role you have played in my life and growth. I adore you.

  4. here’s what i think, Suz: you are beautiful before during after. As you were in the begining, are now and ever shall be. you give alot of yourself. you seem generous and loving and filled up with goodness.
    I think ‘how’ you are feeling is interesting. but to me, you’re delightful and so so helpful, whether fluffy or thinner. Maybe you are more in touch with your inside and outside matching. I do know that when i see friends who have shed pounds, i want to tell them how wonderful i think they look, but no matter, I always think they ARE wonderful. Good for you taking on a challenge and feeling good about it. And yes, i am also my daughter’s mother. Was in the beginning am now and ever shall be. And people who question it have no idea what they are talking about. you go, girl !

  5. Katrina, you nailed it with your first three sentences!!!
    I find my wife one of the most generous, kind-hearted, giving souls I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing.
    She was also VERY inspirational in motivating me to get off my lazy, fat butt to get in shape & exercise as well.

  6. I have been somewhat flippant about my response when I say that I will always have the fat girl inside of me – BECAUSE I ATE HER! I will always default to humor whenever possible… LOL
    Truth is, though the arduous and painfully slow process of changing our bodies (and physical image) is difficult, changing the internal self-image is much more elusive. And you lead me to the question of do I really want to? Should the internal fat girl be banished? How could she be, when she IS me? No, I don’t think I do – keeping the fat girl inside of me keeps her voice reminding me where I’ve come from, where I am and to stay the course; be healthy, choose living well and long. Coincidentally, she also reminds me that only I can define me.
    As for the birth mother definition – it is cold and leaves me as empty as my arms were without my child. I am his mother, not his parent. Mother is not the word HE would use (or does) to define me, but again, my image (body or parental or any other) is up to me.
    Love you, dear friend. Love that we have conversations that sit deeper, stir reflections and feed the soul.
    p.s. sorry about the cherry – I hadn’t noticed, but will note the aversion for future reference. : )

  7. I loved this. Both the overweight identity and the birth mother identity are a part of you. What’s interesting for me to think about is that you are no longer fat, but because it’s your identity, you still identify with being fat. Of course, it makes sense after you and T explain it. I wonder if after another 30 years of being average weight, it will change? Maybe I’m wrong because I’m not a birth mom, but it seems like you’ll always be your daughter’s mother, so that identity won’t ever change.

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