When Did My Dreams Become Fatphobic?

My dreams haven’t gotten my body positivity memo.

Jackie Gualtieri
Oct 28, 2020 · 4 min read
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Photo by Andisheh A on Unsplash

I think it stems from being homesick. Being across the country away from almost everyone I love thanks to this pandemic, it’s hard not to be. I can’t go home and I don’t know when I will be able to again. So home seeps into my dreams a lot.

In my dreams, I’m back in my home state. Except in these dreams, I don’t look like me. It’s (mostly) my face, but it’s basically my face copy and pasted on to a body that looks like a cross between Addison Rae and Jillian Michaels.

Some nights, I’m just at a bar back home with friends, some real friends and some people that I don’t know why they show up because I’ve never really been friends with them. Other times, it’s a legitimate ten year reunion that I’m attending. But no matter what the setting is, my body ends up being a topic of discussion, with rave reviews.

And then I wake up sad.

I usually have dreams like these when I’m home.

The reality is, even though I’m homesick, I know what being home does to my mental health. Like many people who have to spend time in a childhood home, I regress some because of the association I have with being there. So, high school me comes out.

High school me skipped meals. High school me threw up meals I couldn’t skip. High school me was the lowest weight I’d ever been, even smaller than second grade me. High school me was depressed, until she got to have family, friends, and strangers tell her how pretty she looked and how proud of her they were.

When I go home now, I’m told, “Are you going to the gym?” “You can lose the weight again, you just have to really try this time.” “You just don’t look healthy. I’m worried.”

Nevermind the fact that I’m taking care of my mental health for the first time in my life, that I’m in a loving relationship, in a job I adore with wonderful people I love working with. The focus will always come back on my body. The only time in my life that I was called beautiful, save for my loving partner today, was when I was starving myself.

And so, I’ve associated “skinny” with “beautiful” even in my dreams.

Right now, it’s hard not to be sad a lot of the time. I miss so many people I love and the world is in turmoil. So my fatphobic dreams have come out to play.

When I think about how I felt when I heard those compliments, I feel good. I know it came from a fake place. And I do think that if many of my friends knew that my skinniness was a symptom of something darker, they would have stopped with the compliments. Then again, my parents know what my skinniness was from, and they still offer me a gym membership every time I go home. For the record, I have one, and, pre-pandemic, I would go four times a week.

It’s strange for me to feel like I need those compliments right now. I focus greatly on internal peace, giving myself boosts and compliments. But dream me must be a different story. Dream me is regressing as if she were home, though she’s thousands of miles away. And I don’t know how to stop dream me from causing me to wake up sad each morning.

I’ve worked as a body positivity model. I know that, despite being at my heaviest weight, I’ve also developed a love of working out and I eat healthier now than I ever have before. I can reason with my waking self that I shouldn’t be sad about my body. But I can’t reason with my dream self.

Dream me, you’re fat and you’re beautiful, because they aren’t two mutually exclusive things. And when you go home, and you’re not met with a million “ooo”s and “ahh”s, it’s okay. Because you left so many of those people behind for a reason. And we’ve come too far to go back now.

I hope tonight I’ll see me, real me, in my dreams. I hope dream me will give being me a shot.

Fattitude

Fat and not sorry about it.

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