The Chubby Diaries

For a girl, being a chubster is social death. Boys can pass off being a fatty a little more easily. They are often the funny guy, the comedian, the "big" guy. They are often seen as lovable, huggable, even jolly. Maybe that is its own social kiss of death but it is certainly more acceptable than being the chubby girl.

Chubby girls are viewed as lazy, undisciplined and unattractive. Their very presence is seen as injurious to their social circle so they quickly get the message to hang back, play quietly and be invisible. And in the strangest paradox of all, you learn that the larger you are, the more invisible you become socially. Dress in dark colors, be quiet, don't scare the natives with any sudden moves or loud noises. It makes you question your worth as an individual.

Granted not everyone is this way, nor is it this way all the time. But if you are chubby young enough and for long enough, you learn deeply these lessons of social pariah-hood. You begin to feel grateful just to be acknowledged, to be truly seen, to be appreciated. Oh, gosh, this sounds wildly melodramatic. Maybe it is. Maybe it is the sick and twisted view of one who has taken this obesity challenge really, really personally. Maybe it is a really harsh read on the realities of chubbyhood. All I can say is it has been my experience.

So, when I sit in a church meeting and watch a family walk in with five or six kids and one of them is an awkward fat girl about thirteen years old, my blood starts to pound and my palms get sweaty and my face feels hot. And my heart grows twelve sizes too large for my chest. All I know how to do is pray in a moment like that. And ache. I ache for her and for her pain and for the challenges of the road ahead. I so much want to take her and arm her for battle: shore up her dignity, inflate her confidence, warm her spirit, and strengthen her perspective. She needs it.

She is going to get it from all sides. The pitying looks from mothers and women. The love/hate dynamic from her own girlfriends. The total avoidance from boys her age. The awkward encounters with her friends' fathers and brothers. The blank looks from her brothers and male friends. No one knows how to treat her, least of all a fatty like me. My own pity, love, hatred, pain and joy get all mixed in and I realize even having gone through the experience of being a fatty, I am the least informed on how to face it.

You learn young to relish authenticity, genuine friendship and pure intent. You learn a bias of your own--to count on friends who know you as a fatty and treat you with dignity, honesty, respect and decency. These people have your back. These people do not clothe themselves in pity and fear when they interact with you. These people get a pass into the real world of you. For they have learned what even you have not---how to see, under that blanket of poundage, the best of you.

Comments

  1. Very open and honest. Very well written. Hard for us to read because it makes our hearts hurt for your pain. Loves.

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    1. Thank you. For reading, for caring, for knowing how much this means to me.

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  2. Your writing feels real and authentic just like your friendship. You are easy to love and you make others around you feel easy to love. Perhaps you are a natural at the art of respect...or perhaps you have learned it the hard way. Thank you!

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    1. Amy, you always have my back. Forever.

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  3. My stomach churned as I read this post because I not only wince at your suffering, but I empathize with it. One brighter side to sheltering the true self in a bigger body is that it does actually create a safe haven for those who need someone they know won't judge them. There have been times when I have prayed in gratitude that people feel comfortable with me--not in spite of my physical weaknesses, but because of them! One woman in my ward confided in me about some of her deepest fears and insecurities and then leaned in and whispered lovingly, "I get so intimidated by all of the beautiful, perfect women in our ward. . . but I don't feel that way with you!" Of course she meant it as a compliment and I took it that way! (And of course I laughed and laughed until there were tears of joy and irony cascading down my chubby, non-threatening cheeks!!) I LOVE my comfortable packaging invites others to be comfortable with me!!! What an unexpected and appreciated perk it has come to be as I have learned to SEE it! And. . . I love YOU! What a kindred spirit you are, my friend!

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    1. Sarah, thank you. One of the reasons I write this all down is because I want it to be challenged. These thoughts get so twisted inside my head sometimes. I, like you, have had people confide in me because my packaging is comforting and not intimidating. And I have learned so much by hearing their stories. Thank you for spinning this in a beautiful new direction. I want to remember this perspective. I know that what I wrote was prickly and ouchy and this soothes that. Love you!

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