Thursday, April 8, 2010

On Being the Fattest Girl

There are certain things I try not to do. I try not to lie. I try not to say dirty words when I see a child nearby. I try not to get annoyed with my boyfriend when he hogs the bed.

I try not to look around any given room and assess where I lie on the Thin/Fat Spectrum.

I do all of these things on occasion, not even meaning to. The other day, I looked around one of my classes and thought, for the first time in a conscious sense, about the weight of every girl there. There was the grad student with short, red hair that must weigh 100 pounds and always wears tights with mary janes. There was the girl with curly black hair that sits up straight as if her back is tied to a board. She looks like she must be a dancer. There was the girl that wears funky glasses and eats soy beans out of a plastic bag and drinks water from a small glass jar. There are others.

And I found that of all 15 of us, I was the fattest girl in the room. I pulled on my skirt and my top uncomfortably for the rest of the three-hour-long class, eyes shifting back and forth among these lithe young women. I did not compare to them. I wondered if they ever look at me and think "that is the fattest girl here." I tugged at my clothes a little more.

Today in class, we talked about the culture of competition between women, and how women are constantly reinforcing the norms that we're so often trying to break down. Comparing bodies is just one of those things that functions as a way to keep us breaking each other-- and ourselves-- down.

And honestly, I don't want to be a part of that. It's not good for me and it's not good for you.

Of course, I doubt people will ever really stop assessing each others' bodies, but how about this? Don't bring comparison into it. Think about how nice someone's eyes are, or legs are, or clothes are, or figure is, sure. But you don't have to think of it in terms of your own-- and if you just have to, make it something positive.

Example: "She has such a wonderful figure. It's a lot different than mine, but mine's great, too."

Does feel a little phony to say that sometimes? Yup, sure it does. But like anything, if you reinforce it enough times, it'll feel natural. Not to mention the fact that I know it's true. You are special and great and awesome and beautiful just like any other woman, regardless of how you think you compare. You don't need to compare.

Because comparing? It just breeds all these negative feelings about ourselves and others and do any of us need such negative energy in our worlds?

Remember, we're all in this together.


Jem said...

you said it correctly! i feel like alot of girls hate themselves and others simply because they are "different" or they don't fit the "status quo" which is complete rubish if you ask me! we are all different and its high time that we admire everyone for their individual quirks. like you said, we should admire everyone for their beauty, even if its different then what makes us beautiful.

Vanessa said...

Jem: You know, I think the world would be really boring if we all looked just the same.

Leah Felicity said...

This happens to me all the time, but trust me, there's probably plenty of people that feel the same about themselves. There's probably a girl in the room that feels like the darkest-skinned, another girl that feels too pale, and another girl that feels too skinny, and another girl that feels like she's not dressed well enough, and another girl that thinks she's the shortest or the tallest.

For example, most of my friends are 5'4" or shorter; whereas I'm 5'7" in flats. Whenever we go somewhere, I feel like I (literally) stick out. I feel like a giant among faeries. I have generously proportioned (read: birthing) hips and very curly hair, which doesn't always help.

But it's different to be on the outside than on the inside. My mom told me, when I was first nervous about changing in front of other girls in gym class, "Everyone's the same, just more or less of it. And most people are so self-conscious about themselves that they can't even be brought to pay attention to anyone else's imperfections." She sees people's bodies all the time (she's a doctor), and it really is all the same, so don't worry about that.

There are people that love every body type, from the very curviest to the very slenderest. I think on me that I'm too curvy, but whenever I see my body type on someone else, it's adorable.

The universe is strange and you're lovely, surely, so ... hugs.

Leticia said...

As someone that has struggled with weight/image issues(and lately is finally beating them...uuuuuhhhoooooaaaaa!!!!), I can tell you those girls in your class were staring at the others, maybe at you too, but not the way you think. When you are obsessed with your image, you tend to see everyone else better than you. They probably stare at you and think "Oh, look at her, how free and comfident she is, I wish I had her whatever, her hair is better, her skin looks perfect and, oh, my usual "I probably weight less but she is more proportionate".

You are so right, we all are beautiful because we are different, I´ve always seen the beauty in the others, and am finally starting to see it on me(though the war is not over, I think I´m winning).

I haven´t seen you much, but you are gorgeous.You all are, I bet.

Sarah_J_Evans said...

You are SOOO right here - I am with you 100%

Positivity is the key - praise others for their assets - don't become caught up in the bitterness of being jealous of them.

You never know, with enough positive thoughts and feelings you may feel that way about yourself one day too!

Anonymous said...

The biggest problem is comparing. I try not to compare myself, but it can be really difficult in a high school enviroment.

Rachel Elizabeth said...

I am always the fat girl. Even though I'm not really all that overweight (I am right now but thats because I'm pregnant and supposed to get getting fatter with each passing day) but I find myself always looking around and comparing myself to everyone. I've always struggled with my weight because I felt like everyone else was smaller and cuter that I am. I often wish I could move on and appreciate myself but that's oh so hard some times.

amanda said...

Honey, I know that if we were to meet in real life, we would be besties. I do this ALL THE TIME. It was really bad when I was in college; just like you, I would glance around the room and see if I was, in fact, the fattest girl.

It's insanely difficult for me to look at another person and not envy their (supposed) better, thinner figure. It's a daily battle and I hope one day that my heart won't sink when I realize I am the fattest girl in the room.

Elaine said...

Nicely put! We're all unique and beautiful.

Last day to enter to win a William Riera dress!

Zmaga said...

You're right, we're all in this together, we might as well make this existence pleasurable.

Valerie said...

This is such an inspirational post. I try not to do this too, but sometimes it does happen. When it does I take a few minutes to think about the things I do love about my body. Thanks for the reminder that we're all beautiful the way we are!

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