I don’t remember the first time the word was said to me. I don’t know if I overheard someone saying it, using it to describe me, or if it was a self-directed jab.
I wish I knew.
I wish I knew where that feeling came from.
I wish I knew so that I could make it stop.
With the exception of when I was born and the few months after, I was never a small person. I was taller, I was bigger, I was faster, I was stronger. When I was younger, and sometimes still, I just wanted to fit in, to swim with the rest of the fish and not stick out. I wanted to wear the same clothes, to not feel like a fish out of water constantly.. and to not be in the middle of every class or team picture because I was the tallest. I just wanted to be in the front row and play shortstop, not in the middle of the back row and stuck out in the outfield because no one could hit that far, you know?
I was made fun of a lot growing up, but I never considered myself bullied, and I think that’s partly because people were just talk, they never put their words into actions because I was a head taller. There were some mean kids, and they said mean things, and I’m extremely lucky that I don’t remember a lot of it. I don’t know if I just pushed it from accessible memory, or if it was more self-imposed than anything.
In our culture, the word “fat” carries so many things. It carries strife and anxiety. It carries fear and self-hatred. It carries a feeling of inadequacy and self-loathing. I really don’t like it. In Spanish, when you’re called “Gordit@” as a kid, it’s more of a factual statement. Sometimes its even a term of endearment from your grandma, but in English… nope, not so much.
Being called fat did a lot of subtle damage, I’m finding. I’m still trying to get over and through my own struggles with my body and how it does, or doesn’t, work, and it’s hard. Very hard, actually. The one thing I have learned is that no matter how hard it is, taking even a tiny step forward and out of the shadow of a word is breathtaking in all the right ways.