Being Fat Is No Picnic (but it doesn’t have to ruin your life!)

Sometimes I think that being fat, or sometimes not quite so fat, has been the overriding theme of my entire life.  In old family pictures I appear to be of normal weight until the age of four or five, and then I chub up dramatically by age eight.  In recent years, when society is bent on figuring out who or what to blame for everything, I’ve given thought to what happened to me in those early times.

I think there were three circumstances that could have sent me on my journey as a fat person, along with the fact that my mother could never hide her disappointment in my appearance.

When I was about three, my father left me and my mother and grandmother to hold down the fort in a small Oregon town while he went off to fight in WWII.  Like so many others, he didn’t come back; he is buried in Italy.  So I was a War Orphan.  When I was seven my mother married the man I ever-after called Dad, but to whom I was only tenuously connected.  Now I was a Step-Child.  And . .

Someone else’s daddy

Played an ugly game with me,

Pretending it was giggle-tickle fun.

Big hands would grab and poke and squeeze

In places that were mine.

Telling was no option,

As it would only

Disappoint my grown-ups.

Hyper-vigilance is not

A small girl’s normal state,

But I achieved it, and so

Preserved the make-believe

Innocence of the world.

Now I was a Silent Victim.  Well, no wonder I was fat.  What’s puzzling is that no amount of insight, acceptance, forgiveness, or understanding has ever made the problem go away.

I think that being fat in America must be a lot like being black in America.  I’ve had conversations about this with a friend of mine, an educated, successful, professional African-American woman friend.  She says that she feels racial bias constantly in her life, it’s just a fact to live with.  I feel exactly the same, except mine is fat bias.  We both have always felt that we must work harder, be nicer, dress better, and give more in all life situations in order to achieve acceptance.  It is the need for acceptance that drives us into being over-achievers.

Growing up, every message sent by society was that I was not normal and not worthy of having the good things in life.  Books, movies, magazines back then all said the good stuff was reserved for pretty, slender girls, not necessarily smart girls, and certainly not fat girls.  Sadly, I don’t think the message has changed much, and my granddaughters are getting the same old poop.

Believe me, I’ve tried to be thin, tried everything from very early Weight Watchers programs (back then no products, you had to boil up your own ketchup) to liquid protein shakes to drastic stomach stapling surgery.

Today I am moderately fat and I am not terribly unhappy about it.  In fact I am content to have come to a place where my goal is to be reasonably healthy.  I try to eat well, and I fall off the wagon frequently but try not to obsess about it.  I am exercising moderately three times a week, and sometimes I don’t do it.  It’s okay.  It’s all okay

And those negative messages about fat girls being unworthy of the good stuff?  Simply not true, because I have it all.  And I’m still fat.


It’s a very odd thing

As odd as can be

That whatever Miss T. eats

Turns into Miss T.                                                    Walter de la Mare



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This entry was posted on Monday, January 18th, 2010 at 7:09 pm and is filed under Things to Think About. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

3 Responses to “Being Fat Is No Picnic (but it doesn’t have to ruin your life!)”

  1. I, Rodius on January 19th, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    Healthy’s a good goal. I’m still working on it my own self. At least I don’t have all that female body image crap to go with it. TV says it’s perfectly OK to be a fat dude, especially if you’re selfish, not very bright, and funny.

  2. Purelight on January 19th, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    Well, you’re definitely funny. You get no points for selfish or not very bright, though.

  3. shannon on January 20th, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    Well those are images and monsters that both my mother and I have fought over the years. I am working hard to accept myself as I am and to be happy with the body I am part of:). I hope my mother gets to the point where you are,but as of now she still chases the dream and all those stereotypes and media messages we are given because she has lived that same discrimination. Thank you for this blog .