Friday, September 28, 2012

Fat Girl Rescue

I remember it like it was yesterday.
If you'd take a stroll with me on the playground at the elementary school where I grew up,
I could show you just where I was when the words hit.   "You're fat.  Fatty."
I remember who said the words.  I still know their names.
All this from grade one and two and a lifetime ago.

In the most honest way, they were right.
I was kind of a fat girl.
Rolls and padding with "pleasantly plump" as my tag line.
Memories of crying in change rooms because there didn't seem to be any jeans that would fit.
Lying down on a bed to get the zipper done up.
The boys never had crushes on fat girls like me.
It was the stick-like girls with tiny frames and blond hair.
"Petite" is a much better tag line than the alternative.

Grade 7 came and then I grew.  It was like it happened overnight.
Long legs and lean body.
Maybe even skinny.
And I liked it.
Angular, bony and straight.
 I was right where I wanted to be.
I chased it and embraced it.
A gift put right into my hands.
Because I grew.

I always wondered when the gift would run out.
When skinny and angular would shift.
Desperately wanting to hold on for dear life.
Thinking that a lifetime trapped in a fat body would be worse than a chronic disease.
Hold in stomach.
Check mirror.
Curse softness.
Aspire to the stick figure with all you've got.
Plan ahead.
Preoccupied with fear of fat that would put me right back where I started from.

Babies came and left this body.  Weight with them.
"Will I ever be the same?  Will I be skinny again?"
Strut around in your jeans two weeks after giving birth like you just won the Nobel Peace Prize.
Badge of honor, they were.
Sigh of relief.  You did it.  You lost it.
No one can take that away from you.
Not even three babies.

Mom of girls.
Long legs, tall frames, strong and healthy.
No one calls them fat at recess.
And you secretly thank the body gods for saving them from the curse.
God, save them from the curse.
(After all these years, your thinking is still messed up.)

Youngest  daughter finds friend with glorious soft body.
Strong, ample, and full of life.
Heart full of space and room for that daughter of yours to find a place to rest.
Playing and laughing and exploring in the school yard.
When the voice makes its way from the mouths of the boys.
"You look pregnant.  You're fat.  Look at your belly."
Every.  Single.  Recess.

Your daughter relates the words like a story.
"I told them to stop", she says.
"I told her that it's OK.   Don't worry about it.   I like you how you are."
And I say, "Yes!  Yes!  She is OK.  More than OK.  Her body is beautiful."
And I remind myself to believe it because I know it's true.

No teacher was told.
And so today after school there will be a fat girl rescue.
I will "out" those voices that spill out of those boys mouths before they find their way into her mind.
If they haven't already.
Please let them not have taken up residence there.
I don't want her to be a woman with a memory as good as mine.


  1. You know that I never knew you had these awful thoughts to live with. I didn't see "fat" on you. Wish for this girl to feel and know better after today!

  2. Funny (not haha funny) how those kinds of comments stick with you forever. I still remember being called an "indian" in grade 1 and 2 because my skin and hair colour were not exactly something that blended in back then. Thank God I have come to have great appreciation for NOT blending in! I also remember a boy telling me in grade 6 gym, "your boobs weigh 40 pounds each!"...not something a girl who gets those "appendages" earlier than everyone else needs to hear in a class full of kids who think it's funny!


    1. I hope that those ugly words from thoughtless people aren't defining moments in her life.
      I am happy that she has a lovely friend like Sasha---who has a lovely mother to rat out those jerks.


  3. This moved me to tears. Thank you.