I wanted to start this post with a passage from the Jamaica Kincaid short story “Fat Girl.” The problem is that there is no Jamaica Kincaid story “Fat Girl.” I gots my lit all mixed up. She did write a very short, very goosebump-worthy story entitled just “Girl” about a mother’s advice and nagging and lessons about, among other things such as tea setting and button sewing, “how to behave in the presence of men who don’t know you very well.” Lessons I might take advantage of myself.
It was actually Andre Dubus who wrote a story “The Fat Girl” and somehow I had them fused in my memory. I really was thinking of Kincaid and her style and was disappointed that she didn’t even mention her protagonist’s figure, but Dubus’ story, while very different, is also powerful. It is a sad story with an ending that, I suppose, is meant to be cathartic. It reveals the distaste that people—both women and men—have for an overweight figure and the difficulty that some women have keeping their body at a “healthy weight.”
“In five years you’ll be in high school,” the story goes “and if you’re fat the boys won’t like you; they won’t ask you out.”
“That is how they would remember her: a girl whose hapless body was destined to be fat.”
I myself am a big woman. In essence, although it may be taboo to say so, I then am a “fat girl.” It has become out of fashion to remark upon, whether about yourself or others (at least to their face), a person’s fatness. We perhaps note a woman’s fatness but neglect to admit it unless they are extremely heavy and even then we don’t want to offend.