Heap Big Woman

I get a little excited when I see evidence of why thin people stay that way. It’s like seeing the secret metal mechanisms that run the Presidents at that exhibit in Disneyland. I sat next to my friend Kerin in a movie theater and watched her arrange her diet coke and “light, light on the butter” popcorn. The seats had cup holders, but Kerin would have had room besides her narrow thighs for both refreshments and her purse, had she needed them.

I asked her, “So if you don’t use food to make bad feelings and boring stuff better…what do you do? What is your coping mechanism?” We all have something. Something that makes the screams quiet and the jabs soft, something that distracts from pain.I do not subscribe to the theory that fatness is thrust upon me and beyond my control. I consider it a lifestyle choice in most cases, and a perfectly valid one. Some people are inclined to like things (sitting, reading, TV, writing, computering and food) that burn less calories. And some of us self-medicate with food. A cheap, teeny burst of joy, a treat, a distraction. I am all of the above.

“You’re not gonna like it,” she said, wrinkling her nose apologetically. “I go for a run.”


She says that probably because of the time I eased my car up next to her as she ran her jogging stroller down the streets of our neighborhood, pushing her two kids at a good clip. I rolled down my window and shouted, “QUIT SHOWIN’ OFF, YA FREAK!” She didn’t break stride and could only respond with a breathless huff that almost sounded apologetic. Like, “Aw c’mon. I’m normal! Let me explain.” Or maybe it meant “Go to hell, darling! These are your sunglasses I’m wearing and I probably won’t give them back now.”

Either way.

She once told me she didn’t think I was fat. That struck me as so odd. Because…I AM fat. I am. It’s not subjective, like it might be about a girl wavering 20 lbs above her ideal BMI. I am obese. I have inches of subcutaneous fat layering my body. My 90 pound Chinese obstetrician said I was “on the fluffy side,” so that the belly press exams she did wouldn’t be too effective. Fat. You can’t miss it.

I think I know what she meant.  “I don’t  think of you as fat. You dress stylish and you aren’t dull and you’re fun.” And I take that as the compliment it is intended as. I’m sad that the word “fat” is so associated with awfulness that she was trying to protect me from it, but that’s the way it is.

It’s okay. I’m fat but it’s not kept me from much (a few things I’ll talk about some other time). It’s not kept me from a steady stream of friendships that last decades, or a first draft pick husband, bike rides, swimming pools, or even pretty clothes (anymore, thank you late 90’s fat fashion revolution that only grows stronger year by year!).

Maybe I just have too much self-confidence at this point in my life. I’ve been loved by a good man too long, listened to when I speak too respectfully, and befriended by too many high quality people. Now I’m all….”Hello, I’m Therese. I am awesome. Everyone says so. You’re going to like me.”

My friendship. You want it. Thpppth.

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