Tonight, I bought a dress for my birthday party. It is perfect; tight, black, short with an iridescent leopard print. Sexy without being skanky, and believe me, that is a line I have a hard time towing sometimes. As I stood in the dressing room, little birds starting chirping and the theme to “Top Gun” began to play. An angel got it’s wings. Most women can attest, it is very rare that we try something on and not one flaw can be detected. I left the dressing room, skipped to the cash register and happily laid my card down. It was on sale; the Universe loves me. As I left, I hummed along to the Christmas music, and it was then I knew I had lost my damn mind. I hate Christmas.
Several people have told me that one of the things they enjoy most about this blog is I don’t treat it as therapy. I don’t plan to start doing that now, but something has been bothering me, and the half dozen posts I cannot seem to finish tell me it is time to say something.
I have alluded to my weight struggles, poking fun at them and mentioning it as one of the reasons I lighten up my recipes. What I don’t think I can capture here is what it is like tipping the scales at over 200 pounds and knowing the world judges you harshly. It is some cosmic joke that I love cooking so much, but the results can cause me such pain. On harder days, I look at pictures of the “Old Lemmonex” and there is nothing to laugh about, just sadness for what I was and how much pain I was in. There are no jokes that can be made about knowing what it is like to be the obligatory fat friend in a group or what it is like to allow certain people to treat you badly because it is better to be shit all over than be excluded from the group. The world is not a kind place to fat people, and as someone who has been a size 6 and size 16, I can say with certainty that people like you more when you are thin.
When you are fat, people think you are lazy and lacking in self control. They feel uncomfortable around you, as you are a physical manifestation of their worst fears. For people who have never had weight issues, it is impossible to understand that it is an ugly, vicious cycle and most overweight folks wish they could snap out of it. When you believe you are invisible anyway, sometimes the only comfort is that burger or sundae. Even though I lost the weight over two years ago, I still hide it from certain people, liking that they never knew me “that way”. Pictures of me, overweight and frumpy, are hidden when new guys come over and I still think people will judge, assuming I am backsliding, every time I order fries instead of the side salad. Running in to people I haven’t seen in years is a double edged sword; I bask in the glory of my huge accomplishment when their jaw drops and they are speechless, but it is a hard reminder of how I used to look.
Whether it be the flap over Jennifer Love Hewitt’s bikini photos, the blogs of several people (some that I actually enjoy, others I don’t) poking fun at fat girls or the barrage of articles in the past week regarding childhood obesity, it is hard to escape the societal obsession with our waistlines. Of course, every day it is a choice. I choose not to binge. I choose to make time for the gym. I choose to pawn half my food off on my co-workers so I am not tempted by it sitting on my kitchen table. Every single day, I struggle with the choices I must make in order to be happy and healthy. Some days I really just want to drown myself in junk food.
I choose these things because that one spectacular moment with that dress is worth it. It isn’t vanity that motivates me–though I am sure there is an element of that– but more than anything it is the thrill of feeling normal. No one looks at me with pity anymore. I shop in normal stores and people make eye contact. When anonymous people on the internet talk about fat chicks, they aren’t thinking about me. What they will never fully understand is I will always be that girl. That girl making fun of herself to be accepted, being told “You have such a pretty face, if you only lost weight…”. I now wear the hot dress, but in my heart I will always be the girl wearing the XL sweater, convincing myself the dryer shrunk my pants.
Maybe this is an incredibly overwrought way to say “Sorry kids, no brownies at the blogger happy hour tonight!”, but today I choose the dress. I want to look hot, dammit, and those bourbon brownies have my ass in their sights.