Who’s fat enough to be fat?
Most of us feel like we’re fat — but how do we define who is?
“I’m getting so fat.”
You stare in the dressing room mirror, pulling at the swell of your hips, pinching your thicker skin. You press your palm into your belly, hoping to keep its swell at bay. Winter has arrived, and with the change in seasons, you notice your thighs push against the seam of your jeans, their size six beginning to insist upon an eight.
“Seriously, look at me,” you sigh, examining your body in the dressing room mirror. “I can’t believe I’ve gotten this fat.” You trace your fingertips over your body, remembering where convex was once concave, where peaks were once valleys.
I take in both reflections in the mirror — yours, slight and undressed, brightly lit from your harsh floodlight, and mine, its size 26 shadow, distorted and cast behind you.
I’m getting so fat. Your sharp words hang heavy in the air, swinging precariously above my tender neck. I do not know how to tell you, twenty sizes smaller, that we live worlds apart.
I’m getting so fat.
How could you feel any other way? News reports tell you about stress hormones and belly fat, life expectancy and risk for chronic illness, all while you watch white noise footage of impossibly fat people, filmed from the neck down. Their bodies are the faceless specters that frighten you into compliance — the soft, round bodies that can never be yours. Every pound gained is a step toward a body like theirs. A body like mine.
At a holiday gathering, your mother asks you privately if you’ve put on weight; your aunt publicly prescribes a new diet. Both offer motivational advice. Get a pair of jeans you love in your goal size — it’s a great motivator! Want to come to my Weight Watchers group? You catch a chill at the thought of a public weigh-in with so many busybodies.
On a first date, a man tells you you’re cute — I like a chubby face. You feel your chubby face flush red with embarrassment as you imagine the fat face of a child. You remember when your clavicle fell in sharper relief, when your cheekbones jutted out just so. You long to return to the bone structure of a seductress, not rounded…