by: Bobby Crowley
I’m a big girl. I don’t mean maturity or age-wise. I’m talking about my hips, thighs, tits, and of course the dreaded belly. I’m not asking for pity or compliments, I’m just stating the truth. For the longest time, due to constant bullying and name-calling, I had a self esteem so shattered even all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put it back together again. This was before I even became fat. Over the years it just sort of happened, I acquired my bodacious figure because I figured if they were all going to call me fat, I might as well be fat. There is some long and complicated psychological explanation behind me becoming what I am today, but the main point is that I am fat.
I remember I couldn’t even look in the mirror without telling myself how disgusting I was. I would hide beneath oversized t-shirts and dark colors in order to trim down as much as possible. I was a walking optical illusion, or so I thought. This went on for years. Though my style changed over time and my esteem issues became less obvious, I was always uncomfortable, always sucking in this or standing like that to give myself the best figure possible at all times. Think about being hyper-conscious of every single move and moment. I was tortured by my own obsession with how others saw me. I didn’t actually know, of course, what they saw. I just assumed and imagined the worst.
What is truly amazing about my “plight” is that I wouldn’t have even thought anything of my weight or become so obsessed if no one had said anything out of anger or boredom or whatever it is that makes children so inexplicably mean. To be honest, I probably would have thought I was beautiful and never needed to justify others’ opinions of me by gaining weight. Sure, I love food. But I never loved food more at any time in my life than when the bullying heightened. I was suddenly this person who could barely live my life without some conscious effort to look better (whatever that meant).
Halfway through high school I was focusing on fixing other, more urgent personal issues. After that, I found myself on the fast track towards self-acceptance. It was easy to find a way to love myself again, because deep down inside I always had. The fat, however, was a bigger issue. For some reason, I could cut the ties between my opinions of myself and others’ opinions of me in every aspect other than my physical appearance. I suppose it was because only I knew my personality, thoughts, and beliefs better than everyone else. On the other hand, who knows what you look like better than you? Everyone else. I was so stuck in this self-loathing way, that I merely stumbled upon the one thing that could change everything.
This story is not politically correct or inspirational at all. In fact, when I tell you how I learned to feel beautiful, you might want to tell me all of the reasons that it wasn’t the right way. I’m warning you now, you will not change my mind. I am a strong individual and it takes some powerful personal ass-kicking to kick start my revelations. This is one of those ass-kickings and it is just the way it is. Onto the day of enlightenment.
What I remember is being incredibly happy with my new outfit. I had put together this new combination of clothes that I draped in “just the right way” to hide the majority of my rolls. I liked how I looked that day, and felt fine with pictures being taken. However, I remember looking at those pictures and being shocked. I looked just as fat as usual, yet I had felt so good about this outfit. I couldn’t stop ruminating about this horrendous failure on my part. When I went home, I ripped off my outfit and looked at myself in the mirror. I was so unhappy and so confused. How could I have misjudged the powers of that outfit? I wasn’t skinny and pretty, I was the same fat me from yesterday. I wasn’t fooling myself anymore.
I stopped at this thought while looking at myself. I rolled it across my tongue and bounced it around on my brain. I wasn’t fooling anyone. How long had it been since I fooled someone into thinking I wasn’t fat? Did I ever fool anyone? I wasn’t fooling anyone. I wasn’t fooling anyone. Wait. All of a sudden, my brain was full of electric currents and I started to touch myself. This was not sexual, I just patted myself in all of the padded areas. I physically felt what I had been trying to ignore for so long. I was fat. No seeing around it, literally. I was fat.
I had been using thin fabrics, stocky t-shirts, dark colors, and posture to try to hide something that couldn’t be hidden. I was an elephant hiding behind a telephone pole. I was there. I was noticeable. Everyone knew the truth that for some reason I believed so dearly that I could hide. I was fat and everyone knew it. No matter what I wore, I was still fat. When I was beautiful, I was beautiful and fat. When I looked tired and worn down, I was tired and worn down and fat. My best outfit was a great outfit on a fat person. I was the only one intently focused on what made me look less fat. Everyone else had accepted that I was fat and gotten used to it.
People commented on how beautiful one outfit was because they saw me in a great outfit. They didn’t comment because I had miraculously gotten skinnier looking overnight. All of my obsessions and delusions about my appearance had ignored the one truth I told myself all of the time. I was fat. That’s it. That’s all there was to it. Of course, there were ways of changing that. But until I had the time, motivation, and willpower, nothing would really alter the reality I tried to ignore, not even darker colors and looser clothes.
Somehow telling myself this opened up a whole new world of perspective for me. I stopped positioning myself in certain ways. I stopped contorting my body in public to hide the rolls. The rolls were there either way. I became looser and more comfortable. I began to wear whatever I fucking wanted. It no longer mattered if one outfit showed my fat because they all showed my fat. Now it mattered what I wanted to wear and what made me happy. I lost my self-conscious nature and lived my life. Suddenly I was comfortable enough in my own skin for the right reasons. I was no longer telling myself, “you’re fat, get the fuck over it.” I was telling myself, “you’re beautiful, get the fuck over it.” I no longer cared about what others saw, because I saw everything that mattered.
I’m not suggesting this is the right way to accept your body and feel beautiful. I’m certainly not suggesting you tell this to others as advice. This was merely the story of the kick in the ass that opened up a world of empowerment for me. If I were to give advice, I would say that you shouldn’t worry about what others see when they look at you, because what matters is what you see. Think about the people in your life and how your opinion of them doesn’t really change with their posture or clothes. Think about everything you are inside and how human beings tend to be more perceptive than you think. Hell, just repeat my motto. You’re beautiful, get the fuck over it.
Bobby Crowley is a Queer woman with a love for all that is fabulous. She is currently working on her Creative Writing degree at Loyola University where she is also on the board of Advocate and a writer for the alt. magazine LUChameleon. She is in love with Andrea Gibson, her labradaniel puppies, and singing loudly in the shower.