Being the Fat Girl

Now I'm no longer chubby, I suppose one of my prerrogatives is getting free pass to be bitter about my past experiences as the fat girl. Because there is a lot to be resentful about. Human beings can be particularly unforgiving and cruel to overweight-others.

I should know it. I was one of them. Granted, I was never cruel. But I was judgemental and unforgiving, even if inside my own head. As someone that was mostly very thin and had not a sign of cellulitis until the age of 29, I was used to look down at other girls in the pool or the beach, wondering how they could possibly bare to wear bikinis over such disgusting figures. If I looked like them, I would be covered head to toes. I know: a classical case of the what-goes-around-comes-around'itis. I was quickly humbled by life. Experience is the toughest of teachers, for it gives you the assessment before it teaches you the leason. First, my methabolic disorder made me one of the loathed girls. Than it tought me how hard it was to be in their shoes.

The first thing I've learned was that no trendy fashion brand produces clothes above size 12. In Brazil this gets even worse: nothing beyond size 10. For a woman as tall as I am, that already poses an obstacle when I'm thin. With the slightest overweight, I was already out of cool options. A more serious overweight, in my home country, means all brands are off limits, even the shabby ones. So, the moment I reached size 14, everything in the shop windows in a regular mall could no longer be covetted. What I found out next was quite shocking: if you are officially fat for the fashion industry, all your options are restricted to the uggliest floral and patterned fabrics one could possibly imagine. I'm sure they make it on purpose. It has got to be some sort of unusually cruel punishment. It isn't bad enough that you are condemned to fashion ostracism and look like the Michellin dude: you also have to be dressed like a fridge that has been covered by an ugly tablecloth that belonged to your granny.

But that's not all! The wonders never cease.
Some of your friends seem to completely lose the sense of compassion and actually start to bully you for being fat. Of course!, they seem to think, it can only be your own fault that you look like that. You've been obviously porking up in the middle of the night, devouring the remains of an entire roasted pig and a couple of chocollate cakes, devoid of any self esteem and good sense. There is also a few female friends that seem to become the extra-kilo keepers. They never miss a chance to point out you look fatter than the last time they saw you.
But quickly you learn that it gets worse: your family is even more merciless. I can't count the times I've had to repeat that I was not eating too much, and that I was still exercising, only to get a condecending look that said I could only be lying. What other explanation could there be? Even if they were around me for days on end, watching me and seing how much I was eating - which was usually less than all of them - it was like living in an alternate reality. The ultimate state of denial: their eyes were obviously tricking them. Or I was expertly sneaking to the kitchen in the middle of the night, eating my ass in, not making a sound or depleting the food reserves: the ultimate magical ninja.

But I would still have survived almost unscathed if I had not sufferred the ultimate betrayal: even the damn doctors wouldn't believe me. They were supposed to be the specialists in whatever else but excess food that can get you to put on extra weight. Yet, almost all the endocrinologists I've been to would listen to all my history and all I had to say, to ignore me and patronize me with diets that had more calories than what I usually consumed, and exercise regimes that were far less demanding than my usual work out. It was beyond unerving: it was highly demotivating.

I also went through years of feeling guilty at restaurants, for people would look reproachfully at me if I dared to eat anything but greens. There were also the people who would deliver real pearls to me, such as "You people are always so funny and have such nice round faces", coming from the lady doing my make up for a family wedding. Actually, the round face comment was delivered tens of times, mostly by friends, in the most varied fashion. At the mention of my round face, I would inhale deeply and avoid replying with something like: the shape of my face is not round, you damn ass. It only looks like this because I'm fat. It's like people commenting that my daughter's complexion is the only thing that she's inherited from her dad, not knowing my brother was born blond, or observing that my parents and siblings have all the same light complexion. I never say anything, just to give Gui at least that much on his contribution to our little girl's look, since she looks like a clone of me. But people who don't know better should just shut up.

But the ultimate blow was the ladies' public restrooms.
There are some unstated etiquete rules that go on inside the women's restrooms. Some of them are related to how we measure each other to check who is the prettiest. Because, if you didn't know it yet, we don't dress up for guys: we do it to impress and triumph over other chicks. It goes somewhat like this: you are retouching your make up with a couple of friends. Another girl enters the restroom. You and your friends briefly glance at her in the mirror. The oponent does the same. If she is prettier than you, you are allowed to stare a little longer in order to admire her acomplisment. If it is the other way around, you are allowed to grin for an instant and look back at yourself in the mirror, looking victorious and self-satisfied.
Well, when you are overweight, it doesn't matter that you are prettier. Since you are fat, you can't possibly be considered to be so. Hence, you get lots of smirks from ugglier skinny girls who feel absolutely superior to you, to a degree that their faces convey either despise or pitty. It's so annoying.

In my case, there was also the whole being-married-to-guy-with-the-body-of-a-greek-god-who-works-with-gorgeous-models-on-daily-basis thing. It doesn't matter how much he loves and worships you beyond comprehension, and that you keep him busy and happy pretty much daily, you go on thinking there is no way in the world he is not doing half a dozen other thinner girls out there.

In a nutshell, being the fat girl has made me paranoid, self conscious to a very unhealthy degree, even more cynical and, yet, a much stronger person. In time, I've learned to love myself for a lot other reasons that have nothing to do with physical appearance. It has made me a slightly better and more compassionate human being.

But I'd probably rather die - or maybe resort to something less tragic, like bulemia (urgh!!) - than going back to that.

Note for my concerned and beloved friends who still don't get the humor in self-deprecation: I don't intend to kill myself for any reason in the world. I'm far too egocentric for that. ;)


Ady said...

I don't think I've ever read anything more accurate in my life. I've been living almost every sentence in this post (well, except for the "being-married-to-guy-with-the-body-of-a-greek-god-who-works-with-gorgeous-models-on-daily-basis" part, but that's balanced by the fact that the "keep him busy and happy pretty much daily" doesn't apply to me either).

If there's so many of us that felt/feel/will feel this way - how is it possible that it still doesn't change?

Thanks for a great post which made me gasp with "OMG! YES!" and nod enthusiastically a dozen times.

Adriana Rangel said...

Ady, darling, coming from you this is such a compliment. :)
The reasons it won't change, though, would require far more words than this post. I'm sure it would justify a whole new field in psychoanalysis.

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