I'm a fat girl. Pretty much always have been. I don't spend as much time consciously thinking about it as I once did. The way I am usually affected these days is much more assiduous. I have accepted, for example, that I am sort of invisible. I've seen people that I know from high school and college, people that I've met in other places for more than a moment, and while I remember them, they look right past me. They remember Kim. They remember Mrs. O. But it is if they've never seen me before, and in a very real sense, I suppose they haven't. (continued under the fold)
This is only one example, of course. Suffice it to say, I have grown accustomed to not being seen. Except, when I suddenly become hypervisible. In a restaurant or any place where I might eat. In a grocery store where people not-so-subtly look at the contents of my basket. On buses and vans where I am judged to "take up too much of the seat."
While I might not talk much about my weight, the one thing that I do complain about at length is my stomach. It's not only that I have a fat tummy; I have a somewhat large lipoma on the right side that pushes out a little bit against my clothing so it is sometimes visible. When I'm unclothed, I look at it and think that it distorts my stomach. My doctor told me it was harmless a few years ago, so I didn't worry about it. A couple of years later, he was surprised I still had it. I repeated what he told me. He then said, "I didn't mean for you to walk around with it forever."
My mom tells me every once in a while to have it, and the one under my arm (that I've had for over half my life), removed. When I was in grad school, trying to write, I wondered when I'd have time to take a few weeks to recover. Plus, I don't like going to the doctor's office.
So, I just routinely complain and move on. I notice that I try consciously not to complain in front of the girls in my circle of family and friends. They are aged from six to 17 and the complaints they make are enough to make you cry. In their words, they are too fat, their butts are too flat or too big, their hair is nappy, they are "black" (meaning dark-skinned), and so on. So, while I try to encourage all the children academically, I will admit I especially try to get the girls not to think about themselves in terms of "what's wrong."
But I had this moment a few nights ago when my nephew came to me and said,"Guess what the Kid did when we went swimming today?" "What?" I asked, expecting that he got in a section that was too deep or held someone under water or breached some other example of pool etiquette.
Turns out he went swimming with his shirt on. So I called him in to ask why. And he mumbled to me that he didn't like his stomach because it sticks out a little bit.
Nine-years-old and he doesn't like his stomach. And I know he learned it, in part, from me.