Friday, March 25, 2011

It Never Goes Away

I have blogged here, sporadically, I'll admit, for many years now. I have tried to tell some funny stories and pass on whatever wisdom I thought I could to anyone who was of a mind to wade through it all. I've been irreverent, irrelevant, and irrational, sometimes all within one posting.

All my life -- or, at least, as far back as I can remember -- I have used humor as a weapon. I make jokes at my own expense, because it somehow lessens the hurt if you make the joke before anyone else does. And, there are always jokes. Always. The inevitable fat joke looms around me like vultures scenting out carrion. Or, that's what I've always told myself. Make the joke first, and it takes the sting out of it -- except, it doesn't. That's merely a coping mechanism.

I wasn't always fat. I grew up as active as all the other kids -- jumping rope, running, bike riding. Summers were spent outdoors until the last possible second, and you knew you were in trouble if you were still out when the street lights came on. I can still see, in my mind's eye, a much younger version of my mother standing on our front step, bellowing my (and my brother's) name like she was calling the farmhands in for dinner. I took gymnastics, ballet, tap. I swam from the very first warm day in the spring until the last possible second in the fall when my father would drag me out of the pool, blue-lipped and protesting.

It was only a matter a time before my family heredity set in, though. And, right about puberty, it came, with gusto. I come from a pretty full complement of larger people, and on both sides of my family. Wonderful people, all of them, but ones who just like food. I am one of those people. I like to eat. Eating has never really defined my life in that I am constantly planning on what to next put in my mouth. I have eaten to excess, yes. I have even self-medicated with chocolate, but I feel like everyone has done that at at least SOME point in their lives. It's not just about the food.

"Fat", though, HAS come to define me. It is the first thing that pops into people's heads when they describe me. Not "funny", or "intelligent", or even "nice." I am that "fat" lady. Those of you who have never grown up fat can never truly understand what it's like. Those of you who gained a little weight as you got older may think that you know how hard it was, growing up fat, but you really have no clue. How many nights I cried. How many nights I still do. How unloved you can still feel, even 25 years later.

I hold no illusions about myself. I am not "pretty", and never have been. I don't expect sympathy, or exclamations to the tune of "Oh, stop that, yes you are!" I know them to be untrue. I am plain. I know this. I have always known it. It wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't paired with "fat" as well. I am that friend that always had to get paired up with the unlucky best friend so there would always be two couples on whatever double date. Many times, I heard the comments about how hideous I was when they thought I couldn't hear. Hell, half of the time, they weren't even nice enough to try to hide those comments. I have been the subject of many a bet. I once even got a videotape where an obviously drunk college-aged guy was being egged on to vomit. One of the comments that was thrown at him as an inducement to vomit was my name and a picture of me. These young scions of nobility thought it would be a good laugh to not only tape it, but provide me with the tape so that my ugliness was not lost on me.

I go to incredible lengths to not look at my body. It only depresses me when I see it. I don't have a full-length mirror anywhere in my house. I spend awful amounts of money on clothes because they cost so much more for large sizes. There is even shame that I just can't go to a store and pick something off of a rack -- I have to try it on to make sure it will fit, or run the risk of having to return it later, and look some clerk in the eye and try to lie and say, "I didn't like that color after all." I lie to myself that I look good. I know better. I make goofy faces in pictures so you won't focus on what I really look like.

I thought that I would reach an age at some point where I didn't feel like the most unattractive person on the planet, or a total failure and waste of space, but it hasn't happened. And, unfortunately, it doesn't look like that day will ever come. I still get the comments, and they still hurt. I still hear people talk about me as if all the fat has blocked off both my hearing and my feelings.

It will never get any better, will it? Even if I did manage to lose some weight, I'd still be that ugly girl, on the outside, looking in. And there's not a joke in the world that will ever make that better.