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.
5 thoughts on “Growing Up “Plus-Sized””
Maybe this is weird feedback coming from 1) a stranger and 2) a writer, but you can obviously take it or leave it, so here goes: I don’t know if you like reading or writing, but try imagining yourself as a character in a story you are writing. You’ve created a character who is overweight but also turns down compliments and advances (first dimension). She turns away kind words because in her past, people have used kindness as a weapon against her, so she has learned to stop trusting it; with kindness taken away, what’s left for her to see but the unkind (second dimension)? So as a writer or a reader, the real question comes from the third dimension. What does your character DO about it? There are a couple possibilities. She decides that everybody is right to be cruel to her and tries to change her body to meet their expectations. She decides to go out on a limb and trust someone’s kindness. She realizes that the only way someone can hurt her is if she isn’t at peace with an aspect of herself – so she either finds peace with her body or makes the changes to help her find peace.
Either way, the point is that what you’ve described is the beginning of the story. If you were a character in my book, I would look at you as unfinished – because your character arc still has yet to appear. How will it play out? What will your defining moment be as a character? How are you going to step outside from your backstory and make a decision that solidifies who you are and who you can be?
It’s up to you, but that’s power. Power is the ability to make change. You have that ability, and no one has the power over you to determine what change it is you want to make. Maybe you choose to change your perception and not your body, coming to terms with who you are and embracing it. Maybe you choose to change your body, not to give others what they want but to prove to yourself that you have the strength.
Anyway, I hope you’re able to find the right path for yourself soon!
Thanks for your thoughtful response! I am a writer, and I see the arc you present. I think I’m in that deciding stage, as blogging is helping me come to terms with some aspects of my past. For me, blogging is a key to working through my issues.
Thanks again, and Cheers,
Thank you, Dear Dear Amy!!
I’ve gone through the same said things growing up.
hugs. I understand completely.