Thursday, December 31, 2009

The fat/skinny elephant in the room

Arghh!  I am NEVER going to get caught up at this rate!  But at least it was for a good cause this time.  I got to go to a friends house who I'd fallen out of contact with.  We'd been friends since Lex was 2, she has a bunch of kids right around the same ages as mine, including a son with Aspergers, which was a great help when Christopher was diagnosed.  Everything was great between us for the longest time, but the past year or so it seemed everything had fallen apart.  Then a few days ago I got an email from her explaining it.  As she put it;

"i feel uncomfortable having you see me because i am afraid you're going to be thinking the whole time about how fat i am. i KNOW in my rational mind that it's probably not what you'd be thinking but in my screwed up mind it's there. we were both fat together and neither cared and now you're very, very skinny but i am still very fat."

First off - she is not very fat.  A little chubby, maybe.  Nor am I very very skinny.  Not by a long shot.  Secondly, as I told her, the only time I even notice the way she looks is when I covet her clothes.  She always has cuter clothes than me.  Third, and most importantly - how much does this situation suck?  This is a close friendship of years, one where we told each other everything, talked about all the important things in our lives.  I trusted her with things I haven't told anyone else, and I know she told me personal, close things as well.  I knew she was expecting her fourth child before her husband did!

But she couldn't talk to me about this.  How important is weight in so many women's minds?  I know how much it has impacted my life, my sense of self worth.  The word fat is so often synonymous with disgusting, lazy, worthless.  You see it and hear it all the time.  It's still socially acceptable to make fun of and joke about weight.  To make assumptions about a person's character based on the size of their ass.  You see it in Hollywood, with typecasting.  The fat man - the comic sidekick, the chubby girl, who's only the pretty girls friend, never the one who gets the guy.

You know what one of the very last things that made me choose to have weight loss surgery was?  My daughter, in kindergarten, was already being questioned as to "why is your mom so fat?"  It bothered her at 5.  I didn't want to think about how she'd feel at 12, when it was no longer a question, but a pointed barb used to hurt, the way kids do.

And now this situation with my friend.  There's just no winning.  As much as I completely understand where she's coming from - and I DO, I do understand.  I've been there, I've let my weight hold me back, keep me from doing so many things, I know what it's like to live with all those feelings of inadequacy and self-loathing due to the numbers on a scale, I'm also hurt.  I'd thought she just didn't like me anymore, didn't want to be my friend anymore.  And when I was there today, I was more self-conscious than I have ever been around her.  I wore my bulkiest sweater, and tried to avoid any talk of food, weight, or anything that might be construed as such.  I cringed when I mentioned that her dog had gotten chubby since the last time I saw her.  When her husband came home from shopping and complimented me on the way I look (I haven't seen him in a year, probably - so it makes sense for him to comment), I got very nervous, and wished he'd just shut up before it offended my friend.  So where do we go from here?  How do you not let weight get between you, when it's everywhere you turn?

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