A Big Woman

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.

I must admit that I prefer the words “big woman” or even “chunky” over “fat” although I am aware of the reality.

I’ve always been a big woman.  In college, when I was much thinner than I am now, my male friends referred to me as “thick.”  When I was a diet and exercise fanatic and fairly thin, I think, I always thought that people still saw me as a woman who, with all that exercise, must sneak chocolate or actually couldn’t run a mile.  My boyfriend at the time, when I talked about this fear, said “what’s it matter if you have big legs.”  I hadn’t been referring to my legs and I told him so and he was embarrassed.  But, I do, in fact, have big legs. (According to Led Zeppelin, that means I have no soul. Right?)

So, the question is, I suppose, whether or not I am hindered by my weight.

I must admit, at least for the time being, the answer is no.  But, this freedom of body is only a very recent phenomenon.

The pounds that I plastered on my frame over the last, ahem, few stressful years used to leave me feeling like a complete failure.  I felt extremely defeated and sluggish and utterly unattractive.  I also felt, although this is a complete falsehood, that I had little control over my appearance because I couldn’t muster up the self-discipline to change it.  I remember nights, when socializing, that I did not want to stand up and dance or participate in games or what-have-you because I didn’t want people looking at fat me and making, I don’t know, judgments.

Really? Really?

I’m sorry, but in the last few months I’ve been feeling insanely attractive.

(I will confess that I have a little can’t-live-without-friend. This makes me feel like a bit of a liar, but I do most often wear a shaper thingy under my clothes.  There, you have it.  It doesn’t change my shape so much as it stops my belly from jiggling around when I am shaking my booty.  Semi-sadly, this modern girdle contraption business has become a crutch of sorts and makes it difficult to quickly use the restroom.  Oh well, I can’t part with it.  Not my beauty secret-no-more.  “Fashion before function” an old trendy boyfriend used to say.  (This initially came up when talking about socks paired with Birkenstocks.)  Fashion before function, ladies and gents. Perhaps in some ways this means that I haven’t fully contended with my weight.  Oh well.)

So, back to that attractiveness.  I feel it Insanely.  Really.

And, folks, I am.

And, not that I need outside affirmation (although it never hurts), I’ve had some compliments about my frame as of late.  I’ve been referred to (and not in the euphemism for fat sort-of way) “voluptuous” and “sexy” and “beautiful” and told that I was “looking good.”  (These compliments do not all come from the same lips by the way.) Even my youngish male neighbors paid me a compliment in their own youngish male sort-of way.

Brag, brag, brag,

You see, though, this bragging could be seen more as investigating.  Yes, our nation is plagued by the horrid trends of obesity and processed foods and complete sloth.  And, yes, I think we should all strive for better health and energy and stray away from chicken ring things.  But, I am wondering, if a hippy girl like me can be on the receiving end of such compliments, exactly what is it that makes a person attractive?

Before I continue, maybe I should acknowledge that there are many a man or woman that would think I am just too, too heavy to be beautiful.  And, for now, I’m okay with that. I should also mention that for some a bigger physique is actually a preference.

But, for the average Joe or Joan, what’s the real deal?

I’ve been told that confidence goes a long way.  That beauty generally comes from your perception of yourself.  I mean, my weight hasn’t changed too terribly much from the “I believe I’m a slug” phase to the “I’m a complete sex goddess” phase.  Since I’ve believed that “I’ve got it going on,” other people seem to think I do too.

So, is it all self-perception?  Because, despite the compliments, I doubt. sincerely, that it’s my physical form.  (Although perhaps I should state that I am only one or two sizes bigger than the upper-end of the purported male preference.  That is too big, but not too terribly big.)  Maybe it’s movement, or laughter, or just plain personality that makes a person gorgeous.  I just know that when I am “on,” I feel like people notice and I seem to notice others more too.  And when others are on, I feel like coming out of my shell and then, before you know it, there are little lights emitting from people everywhere and everyone with that glimmer seems so damn beautiful.

“To love beauty is to see light,” says Victor Hugo of Les Miserables fame.

So yes, to turn it around, to find light is to see beauty.

So, there, perhaps it’s just soul.  Whatever soul means to you.  Could be funk daddy.  Could be the spirit of God.  Could be both.

We all have it.  Regardless of physical design.  It is just bringing it forth and out into the world.  Yes, be healthy.  Yes, be fit.  But, also, know that you carry a light inside of you that cannot be blown out and will, inevitably if you shine it, attract people to you.

I suppose, and I won’t spend much time on it because so much time has already been spent on it, the problem is that an overweight woman (or man) often feels less confident and therefore has trouble with this soul-sharing excitement.  My sluggish self an example.  Me?  Not dance?

In The Body Project: An Intimate History of American Girls, Joan Jacob Brumberg states: “ … before the twentieth century, girls simply did not organize their thinking about themselves around their bodies.  Today, many young girls worry about the contours of their bodies—especially the shape, size, and muscle tone—because they believe that the body is the ultimate expression of the self.”

The ultimate expression of the self.

But, I disagree.  The only ultimate expression of the self is the self and the self is not contained fully in the body.  So, there.  Big woman that I am, I have so much more to offer than a little flab.

So, that whole business in Dubus’ story about no boy ever asking the “fat girl” out.  I say, “Pollywash!”


To all those big women, I say as Outkast says “shake it like a Polaroid picture” because, girl, you still got it going on!





1 Comment

  1. Heather said,

    July 25, 2013 at 6:01 pm

    Triple chocolate mousse is what it is!

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