“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.
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.