প্রকাশিত: ১২:২২ অপরাহ্ণ, নভেম্বর ১৬, ২০১৯


Sabrina Sharmin Nody

People hate fat girls. Actually, people love-hate fat girls. They want them around but they don’t want them around. They want fat girls to be their reliable friends, friends of tough times who would be ready to serve 24/7, the ones who would be funny and make them smile but not so funny that would overshadow them. The ones that would be kinda popular but not so popular that it’d put their popularity at risk. Fat girls make them uncomfortable. You know what makes them more uncomfortable? When reliable funny fat girls lose a little bit of weight. Lately I discovered I’m more “unlikeable” than I used to be because I’m a little less fat for now. Because my double chin kinda blended in? Because I no longer fit in a 2X shirt.

I have always been the fattest girl in the room. School, college, social events, family gatherings, you name it. On my good days I can still stand out and rise above despite people’s relentless measures to subdue my existence. And that causes people to lose their collective minds. Because in our world fat people, darker skinned people, short people etc. are expected to keep a low profile because they’re considered “flawed”. People expect them to be in a corner, away from the spotlight, trying to please others who are nothing but mean to them.

Story time. When I was 9 I was still in Bangladesh. I was a student at Bangladesh Shishu Academy and was participating in all sorts of shows with other kids throughout the year, without any “fat hesitation”. Acting, singing, writing, recitals were part of my daily routine. My parents made sure I was culturally involved and quite frankly, I was pretty good. It bothered people. It bothered people that a fat kid was confident enough to get on a stage and not give a damn. At 9 I had a classmate’s mom come up to my mom and share her concerns over her “fat daughter” who was still wearing clothes of a 7 year old and I was wearing clothes made for teenagers. Even at 9 I knew it was her way of trying to shame my mom by implying her underweight daughter was fat so my mom, the lady with an actual fat daughter will feel like crap. It wasn’t the first time and it certainly wasn’t the last. One time I got kicked out of a ride at an amusement park in Dhaka because I was too heavy. You should have seen the smiles on their faces.. I had never seen these “friends” of mine this happy. This type of “friends” of mine still exist. Years went by and I sort of learned how to navigate my way through their pathetic nonsense. I gave up on a lot of things in life that I loved and enjoyed. Music, acting even writing because eventually I couldn’t deal with the culpability of being good at things despite being fat (!) – it felt abnormal. Ultimately the moms moved on to doing shittier things and trained their daughters to do their dirty work. At times girls my age or older, seemingly “underweight” but otherwise uninteresting and unattractive, come up to me and cry about how they need to lose weight. Supposedly they were oh so fat and sad about it. I’d make the mistake of going shopping with them and have them use my shoulder to fake cry on for fitting into a small instead of an extra small. They’d grab me a medium shirt to try on, calling it hugeee, already knowing that obviously a medium wasn’t going to fit someone who wears a 2X. In fact, they knew those stores didn’t even carry my size, but it was a great way to embarrass me. I saw the glimmer in their eyes, the kinda glimmer that says I’m here to make you feel bad about yourself, actual fat girl. Their nasally fake cry that says – I’m here to play mind games with you to mess with your head. Girls I played with, girls learned music with, girls I recited poems with, girls I went to school with, girls I worked with, girls I socialized with, girls I actually cared for – they were all the same. It continued to happen during my teen years, my 20s, and now as I jump into my 30s as a grown ass woman, it hasn’t stopped. Years went by but the glimmers in their eyes, the nasally fake cries remained the same. I had figured by then it was their way of making me say “Naw.. are you crazy? You’re so skinny! I’m the fat one! You look so beautiful, but not me.” And I did. I told them what they wanted to hear. I felt what they wanted to make me feel – worthless. Not once did it occur to me that maybe it’s jealousy, not once did it occur to me that it might be because they were intimidated by me. Because their posse had successfully made me believe since I buy plus size clothes, I shop at Torrid and Lane Bryant, I wear extra wide shoes, I’m definitely not on the same level as them. But now I see what the actual issue was. No one wants fat girls under the spotlight unless it involves humiliation.

As a feminist it always bothers me that the people who have been most unkind and mean to me in my life are women. Over the last 25+ years people have gone out of their way to let me know how fat I am, as if I’m not aware. In every path that I have walked into in life there have been people who have made me feel either they liked me because of my personality or they made me feel like they only enjoy my presence because it made them look and feel good about themselves. Because you know, standing beside the fattest girl in the room might make the ugliest person look somewhat average. I know, I know it sounds horrible, but it’s a fact. This is planet Earth – things here are complex, people are cunningly stupid, social calculations are part of daily lives, and every damn thing is a competition. Most “normal sized people” have a hard time accepting that fat girls can have a happy life and a successful career. I mean, how dare they! I don’t know why, but in the past I have found myself trying to justify their offensive and impolite and uncouth attitude. Like I took it upon myself to protect their fragile and shallow ego? Made my biggest achievements look tiny, made my happiest moments look like they’re no big deal – just to keep them “perfect sized people” off my back. I had taught myself how to not take a compliment and rather refuse to accept it because if I did accept a compliment they might think I’m full of myself, and how dare a fat girl be full of herself, right? I was already fat, I didn’t want to become a “bigger” target. It might be hard for some to relate because they are not me and have not walked in my fat girl shoes. No one has ever picked on them because of their weight so they don’t know how audacious it is. Lately it appears that I’m no longer “likable” to some people who in the past seemed to enjoy my presence. I kept wondering what could it be? What changed? Is it the way I talk? Is it my manners? Is it the way I dress? Is it because I joke around? And then it dawned on me after a long conversation with someone very close to me – none of that had changed except for one thing. Though still very much obese – I lost some weight. And this has caused a chaos to the point where some people are having a hard time accepting that I’m no longer that morbidly obese girl who makes them feel skinnier than they actually are. I have other fat girlfriends (that’s right, there’s more of us out there, surprise!) who had warned me that this would happen but being my silly self obviously I brushed it off! I thought there’s no way people are this twisted and shallow, I mean come on! But now I see it. I feel the disappointments and frustration.

Truth be told – my weight actually never bothered me. My weight always bothered others. And perhaps on random days the fact that it bothered them bothered me. I had lost weight in the past and I had gained it back in the past as well. But this time it feels like I committed some kind of crime, like I have made it rain on someone’s parade? A part of me wants to say to them “There’s no need to feel so salty about it. There’s no need to roll your eyes at me. No need to whisper with your buddies in a way that I know you’re obviously talking about me. There’s no need to make me feel isolated. There’s no need to try to portray me in a negative way among your crew because you cannot use me as a fat girl prop right now. And if you must, maybe do it privately when I’m not around? I know it can be hard, but maybe practice a little bit of decency?”

Then I realize their attitude towards me may change based on my size. But my attitude towards them will remain the same whether I lose 100 lbs or gain another 100. I have come to realize I was “bigger than them” when I was 50 lbs heavier, I am “bigger than them” now, 50 lbs lighter. They will always be puny and small and I will always be “bigger than them” – pun intended.

Their insecurities aren’t mine to keep up with. If anyone’s goal is to make me feel isolated, then why should my goal be to make them feel included? I wasn’t brought into this world by my badass parents to boost other’s confidence by making me feel bad about myself. It is not my job to make anyone feel like they are one of a kind by putting myself down.

It would be unfair to blatantly put everyone in the same category though, because not everyone is this messed up. Some of my guy friends, some of my girl friends who are like my sisters have been extremely supportive and kind to me. I have an amazing guy and a tiny but tight circle of close friends who genuinely look out for me. They ask how am I feeling. They make time to check on my health. They make me feel included and involved. They make me feel like I’m one of them. They make me feel like I belong. They worry. They encourage. They back me up. They offer help. They tell me that they’re here for me. And I like that their treatment of me doesn’t depend on the weighing scale. They treated me with respect before, they treat me with respect now and I know they will continue to treat me with respect no matter whether I blow up like a balloon or have an eating disorder. I am thankful to them for being decent frigging human beings. Hugs and kisses for everyone who may or may not be okay with me ❤️

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom” – Viktor E. Frankl ]”

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December 2021