Tuesday, Apr. 05, 2005 - 12:50 p.m.
Things they never told me before I launched my Life As A Fat Girl:
Chairs are hard. Chairs must be evaluated before putting one's weight upon them in case they were not built to hold anyone heavier than a teenaged cheerleader. Chairs with arms can leave deep bruises on one's outer thighs if one has to sit through a seminar or a dinner. Chairs made out of plastic may slowly warp out of shape under one's plush bottom during an afternoon in the sun on a patio.
Math is unwieldy. An elevator crowded with people may accommodate 4 tightly-clad size 6s but not have room for one loosely-clad size 24. Elevators are interesting microcosms. Also, a Lane Bryant 24 is not a Fashion Bug 24 is not a Just-My-Size 24 is not a Torrid 24 is not an Avenue 24 is not a Catherine's 24 is not a Dress Barn Woman 24.
Sweat is the enemy. A fat person sweating is not indicative of Summer humidity, healthy exercise or a fever, only obesity. Sweat gathered under belly folds and in the leg bands of panties during one warm August afternoon can create wicked yeast infections and pus-y chafed areas that take days of cleaning and pat-drying and Balmex applications to heal.
Other fat people are not your friends. Fat By Association is a fear manifested by fat people consciously choosing non-fat people as friends, thus proving to the world that they are worthy and fun to be with and not destined to choose only from a friend-pool of other sad, lonely fatties. Fat people at a BBW conference may block another fat person's entrance, announcing, "You are not fat enough."
Non-fat people are not your friends. Non-fat ninth-graders may tell a fat ninth-grader they've been friends with for years that she just isn't walking fast enough to accompany them anymore on the way to school each morning. Non-fat adult friends may spend their days sunning at pools and the beach and never ask their fat friends to join them.
There is never enough room for a fat person. Stairwells and sidewalks five-people wide will shrink to only big enough to fit two strolling young men while the seemingly invisible fat person will find herself squished to one side waiting for them to pass. A double bus seat can be filled to capacity by a thin woman and her snazzy briefcase while the fat person has to stand for the entire ride, not able to pipe up to sit down. Foot cramps and strained stomach muscles will result from the contortions a fat person will endure in order to look as tiny as possible in an airline aisle seat.
Doctors are in awe of fat's menacing power. Fat will be held responsible for every symptom and ailment and thus no treatment or further diagnosis is necessary. Stomachs will have to be held up and safely away during gynecological exams. Paper gowns will never adequately cover fat once one is seated and the fat has settled.
Fat people have to be natural navigators. Narrow aisles in boutique stores, cramped pathways in restaurants, bus aisles strewn with out-thrust legs and tilting parcels, exits through clumps of unaware chatterers who are blocking doorways all may be daily obstacle courses one must figure out and overcome.
Words scar. "Fatty Fatty Two By Four." "Pig." "Cow." "Fat Ass." "Fat Bitch." "Blimpo." "Tubby." "Jumbo." Behind me at my eigth-grade graduation: "Lardass." In line at a midnight matinee of Rocky Horror: "Move it, Bertha." Said while I was waiting for the restroom at a danceclub: "Look at the size of her." Written next to my name on an audition sign-in sheet: "Whale." My mother's favorite: "Fat Dolly."
Things I've taught myself:
I am fat. It's time for me to say it and it's time for others to hear it from ME.
I don't need to be uncomfortable or strained.
"I need another chair, please. That chair was not made for fat hips."
I will accept that there is airspace, seatspace, elbowroom, legroom and enough room for me wherever I am.
"Excuse me, could you please move your bag so I may sit down, too?"
I don't need to apologize for my brisk stride or lack thereof.
"I'll be walking at my speed and you're welcome to join me."
I don't have to be embarrassed by deficiences created by airlines or car manufactures.
"I'll sit in the back seat since some older Volvos don't have front seat belts long enough for fat people."
I am fat, not stupid or ugly or friendless or smelly or without manners.
"Excuse me, Fat Girl coming through."