I feel like I don’t often speak about fun, happy things on this blog, Gentle Reader, and I apologize for that. But when the Muse strikes me for blog entries, it’s usually about struggling and wrestling with a problem, a concern, a sadness. And I’ve been thinking, a lot, about growing up “plus-sized.”
Once, at a restaurant, I ordered something without meat because at the time, I was vegetarian. The waitress said to me, “No offense, but you look like you eat meat all the time.” Why is it that something insulting always begins with “No offense” or other such similar sentiments?
I was offended. I was hurt by that statement, but what else could I do but laugh it off? It’s not like she commented on my race, or gender identity. Just my body.
I’ve spent many years laughing off sentiments similar to that one. Girls in locker rooms pulling my gym shorts out of my basket and saying “oops!” as they fell off their skinnier frames. Boys pretending to like me because their friends dared them to dance with “the fat girl.” All of these things, I’ve laughed off because if I didn’t, I would cry.
I cried, too. And I doubted. Once, in college, a gorgeous boy hit on me at the local bar. I laughed at him and told him to try it on someone else. He was, and remains to this day, one of the most beautiful people I’ve ever seen this side of a movie screen. Even his friends said to me, “I’ve never seen him like this for anyone.” But I refused to give him my number because there was no way it was real.
I assume that my weight is the first thing people notice about me. I assume every comment has a caveat: “You look so cute!” (for a fat girl). “You dress so well!” (for a fat girl). That every compliment about my appearance is a thinly veiled microaggression. The other day, a colleague told me “You look nice today,” and I wondered if that was code for “you’ve lost weight.”
This is what it’s like growing up plus-sized. You assume everything is about your body, because it has been, for decades.