I was never the pretty one. Or I was always the pretty one. I don’t know. What is pretty? I was never fat during my childhood. I wish I had been aware of that. I spent evenings before bed examining my stomach in the mirror wondering why the lower part of my abdomen stuck out just so. No one said, “Hey, that’s how a lot of women are shaped.” One day in the 5th grade I was sitting around the lunch table in the school cafeteria with my friends and we were talking about weight. I told one of my friends how thin she was, how I was envious of her, when another friend spoke up and said “Merle, you’re like the skinniest person in our class, AND you’re tall!” Her comment fleetingly made me feel special, though I still wasn’t convinced.
In middle school I was at a sleepover with two of my best friends and another girl who was what I considered to be a “cool girl” at the time. We were doing makeup and gossiping and talking about “viral” choreographed dances. Growing up with a mother and father who were strict about me wearing little to no makeup and dressing conservatively, I was excited to be hanging out with a girl who seemingly had no rules, and wore tons of makeup and skimpy clothing. I was trying to determine what shade of foundation to wear when she looked at me and said, “you really don’t need foundation.” I was like “…Oh. Really?” And she was like, “Yeah, that’s like, a good thing.” Later that night when we were making up choreography to popular songs she complimented my dancing. I was on cloud nine the rest of the weekend because a “cool girl” seemingly thought I was cool! Then on Monday at school I discovered the three of them went shopping the next day and didn’t invite me. When I asked my friend why I wasn’t invited she said, “We don’t have to do, like, everything together.” My fifteen minutes were up.
At times it feels like my entire life is strung together solely of moments relating to my fragile body image. At the thinnest period in my young adult life, I felt confined to a dorm room. My jeans were getting looser and looser, but my brain didn’t register that I was smaller, that I LOOKED smaller. I was still Fat. Leaving my room was the worst. I thought everyone was watching me, judging me, using their inner monologues to cackle about how ugly I looked. My diet during those 9 months looked a lot like this:
-Monday: Salad from dining hall for lunch
-Tuesday: Water and Sugar Free Red Bull all day
-Wednesday: Water and Sugar Free Red Bull all day
-Thursday: Mello Yello
-Friday: Salad from dining hall for dinner
-Saturday & Sunday: Taco Bell or McDonald’s binges while everyone else went home for the weekend or was out partying
I’ve tried to get back on that diet plan several times since then but I haven’t been successful, which is probably for the best. I honestly don’t know how I ate that little without Adderall. I also rarely drank alcohol my freshman year of college. I smoked a ton of cigarettes.
The guy who lived next door to me in the dorms had a crush on me, and I had drunkenly wagered a date with him dependent on the results of an arm wrestling competition. He won. He asked me on a Valentine’s Day date and I accepted. It was the second date I had ever been on (I was never a romantic), and we went to dinner and a movie. During the movie (Warm Bodies) he held my hand. I felt awkward and my body was so stiff, it was as if rigor mortis had set in. I don’t think he noticed. Affection has always made me recoil, almost as if there’s a traumatic memory I’m suppressing, but I’ll save that for therapy. That was the last time I’ve ever been sober on a date.
Following that date, I started going over to his room about three nights a week. We would make out, and he’d finger me (He didn’t want to have sex??? ? ???). Every time I reached for his dick he would shut things down and say he was tired. A year later, I found out he told his friends that we were “banging all the time.” He must have sensed that I wasn’t interested in going on any more dates after that Valentine’s Day, because he never asked me on another one. Maybe he wasn’t interested. I can be pretty awkward. On move-out day that May, he hugged me goodbye and said “take it easy.” I hear he’s a photographer now (and a Republican).
When I sleep with someone there’s always a part of me that thinks they aren’t good enough for me. But the voice that wins out is usually the one telling me that I’m not enough. In a relationship, whether platonic or romantic, I constantly feel as though I’m overstaying my welcome. When I wake up the morning after sex and look over at the person next to me, it doesn’t matter if I’ve known them for 7 hours, 6 months, or 3 years. I feel like a stranger and I leave before they notice how uninteresting or sloppy or unclever I am. Before they can tell me I’m pretty, and then not text me for months at a time.
Life is easier when you’re fat and you know you’re fat. Mentally I feel the same as when I was 50 lbs lighter but I don’t have the stress of being skinny yet feeling fat??? I’m just fat. I wonder what guys think when they fuck me, or maybe I really don’t care. When I watch porn I don’t care if the girl is chubby or thin, I only care about if the guy has a nice looking dick. I’m really glad I don’t have a penis to worry about, because I’d probably kill myself if I had a crooked dick or excessively low-hanging balls.