Fat Like Me or… Writing on Girls With Markers

I’ve always had a theory that skinny people were just people that shouldn’t be trusted. And then I get soft, and I start letting skinny people into my life because they seem nice enough. Yes, they have their downfalls: they run and can’t fit in small places, but ultimately they’re people, too. It’s hard for me to overcome my ultimate distrustful nature of skinny people because I know if it came down to a natural disaster like a tornado, they would never have my back. Yes, thick boys like myself have a better chance of staying grounded in a funnel cloud situation, but I can just imagine a Helen Hunt F5 size tornado coming towards me, and all my friends are playing a life and death version of sardines just staring at me from a tight space right before I get pulled into the sky. I’ll never be able to fully give my heart to a skinny person because I know that all they’ll do is steal it and hide it in a place that I’m too large to get into… most likely a crawl space or an inconveniently narrow alleyway.
But knowing all those facts about skinny people doesn’t stop me from wanting to reach out to them anyway. After meeting a girl in my class, an obviously natural-born-skinny, I decided that even though she had her moments in class, she was worth giving a chance. She tends to dominate conversation, but I thought that it was maybe because she had a Rachel Berry/Lea Michele personality–I didn’t want to blame it on her being skinny until I had to. But tonight, we were talking about the footage that broadcast journalists use as anchors and reporters do the voice overs… the particular one we watched had a flurry of obese people walking around, but the camera cut off their heads, probably to hide their identity. I asked how ethical it was to use stock footage of obese people who probably didn’t know they were filmed as the image of obesity in America. That soon followed with a woman in my class, Sunset, talking about how her daughter was measured for her BMI in front of her classmates and went home and told her mom that she was… ugly.
I automatically went into mommy mode and shared my absolute disgust with Sunset. It was as if my imaginary daughter had been called fat, too. Then, out of the silence, Skinny chimed in. She stated, You know, if a seven year old is obese then someone needs to tell her that she is. Someone needs to explain that she is going to get diabetes and that her weight is a problem. I know it’s not related, but when I was in a sorority, we did the same thing. Then the guys from the fraternity came in with markers and marked on our bodies where we needed to lose weight, and it was embarrassing, but it was also motivating. I’ve tried really hard to be a mature adult in grad school; I mean, for God’s sake, I wear sweaters vests and cardigans. But I couldn’t help myself; I could feel that chunky middle schooler fighting from the inside as I yelled/laughed/cried Oh… oh no. Yes, Skinny is a grown woman and can allow whomever she wants to draw on her with a Sharpie, but you can’t impose that kind of behavior on to an impressionable seven year old. If I ever found out that someone had called my child’s BMI out in front of class, let alone drew on them with a sharpie, I would find a special place for that sharpie that even the skinniest person couldn’t get to.
I started having flashbacks to sixth grade when we were forced to run a mile in under sixteen minutes. Everyone had finished, and there I was jogging (or walking, I can’t remember because after the second laugh, my vision started to go) on my second lap just hoping to finish before the time was up. Middle school was not a time that we cheered for each other; middle school was a time to mock Anna G and I for not being able to carry our body weight for a mile. The whole thing was mortifying, and I promised myself that if I could just finish that mile, I would convince my parents to buy me a Hoveround, and I would never walk again. I hated all those skinny people because even when they finished, they continued to walk around like standing up wasn’t even a big deal. They didn’t understand what it was like to be like me, and they sure weren’t open to the idea of trying to picture it.
And I suppose that anger has subsided a bit since I’ve gotten older. I came to terms that I would never be one of those tinys, but as I got older, I’ve pretty much maintained the same weight… it just distributed itself better the taller I got. Even now, as I continue to lose weight via my diet of cigarettes and cubes of cheese, I still understand the struggles of those that have a little more to love. I identify with people who understand what it’s like to fluctuate between “beautiful” and “beautiful plus some.” I’m inspired by people like Kirstie Alley, Josh from Drake and Josh, and the ongoing weight mystery that is Oprah Winfrey. People who are naturally large have to actually work at being skinny, which is frustrating when you’re around people who can eat like fourteen hot dogs, a honey bun, a five gallon bucket of 7-11 Slurpee and then say, Wow I feel so fat today while sporting what looks like a premature food baby at best. When I meet people like that, they don’t make me want to lose weight… they make me want to eat them.
So, if you’re skinny… first and foremost, shame on you. Okay, maybe not shame on you… more so, consider what it’s like to walk around feeling less. On top of all the comments you get throughout your day, you’re the first person that sees you in the morning. You already know what people are going to say because you say it to yourself first. If you’re a little bigger, remember that no matter what size you are, you are important. You should never feel like less of a person because you’re a bit larger than the rest. And if you’re a bigger person moving toward a skinny life based on nicotine and a couple bites of bread a day, don’t do it because you want to be skinny… do it because you don’t have money or because you forget to eat, like me. And if you do achieve that point of skinny-sin, then I hope you remember all the people that stared at you because you were fat. Don’t forget how it felt to be stared at as you bounced much more than everyone else as you ran laps on the track. And for God’s sake, don’t justify telling a seven-year-old that she’s going to have diabetes one day in front of her peers. If what motivates you is having a man tell you what’s wrong with your body by drawing on you with a marker, maybe you need a different kind of mirror to assess what might need some work.


2 thoughts on “Fat Like Me or… Writing on Girls With Markers

  1. Sorry Justin, but I have to disagree with you on several points, although I'll only mention one: no one is “naturally bigger” as in overweight. Being overweight or obese isn't a natural state of being. Your body only “naturally” becomes overweight when you eat to excess, because storing excess energy as fat is a natural process. Body composition does have genetic roots, and metabolism is somewhat genetic; but in the end, if you eat poorly and eat more than you need, you will gain weight. Obesity is, in fact, an active state of being, unlike being overweight. To be overweight, one really doesn't have to do much more than eat more calories than used. To be obese, however, one must actively eat a significant amount of calories to maintain an obese weight. If an obese person were to cut calories to a normal level (as in, not a weight loss level of calories) he would lose weight until he was just over weight. If an overweight person were to cut calories to a normal level, he would maintain. THUS, obesity is an active state of being where one has to continually keep up a certain intake and lack of activity, whereas being overweight can be passive.

    I do so love your blog!

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