Friday, April 1, 2016

Fat Girl

Just this week, I told my husband and mother-in-law that, in spite of having recently lost 30 pounds, I still feel exactly the same. While I lost the weight primarily for health reasons, not emotional ones, I'm aware that I have struggled with being a "fat girl" my entire life.

With that revelation still spinning around in my heart, I found myself drawn to click on an NPR article posted to Facebook, offering reviews of two works of fiction that "tear down" stereotypes about fat girls.

The Facebook rabbit hole being what it is, this article next led me to a PBS Newshour link about a poet, Rachel Wiley, who penned this:

For Fat Girls Who Considered Starvation When Bulimia Wasn’t Enough
Mom says that my teeth are perfect
Perfect brother has just gotten braces on his top four front teeth
A tiny railroad bridge connecting nothing
And mom says that my teeth are perfect.
At last my quiet mouth, the overlook, the swallowed feelings have all paid off
and cultured something perfect and mine.
My mouth is a music box
stuffed with pearls.
Perfect brother is tall
And lean eats whatever he wants
One time a whole box of oatmeal cream pies.
but it is more clear each day that my baby fat is no longer baby fat
but just fat
It is more clear each day that I will not be a ballerina
I had wanted to be a ballerina.
My mouth is a music box
A small girl spins gracefully at the back of my throat
On point
I am sure if I can just reach far enough back I could still have her grace
I reach for her every night after dinner while the bathtub fills.
Until one day the health teacher shows us a photo
of a mouth crammed full of broken, yellowed dishes
says that a side effect of Bulimia
is ruined teeth
but Mom said that my teeth were perfect
And my perfect is a ransom I cannot bring myself to pay for the spinning girl
So I swallow her
and then nothing more for 4 whole days
My mouth is a music box, plays a low gear grinding that puts me to sleep.
When I do not wake up any closer to the spinning girl encircled in pink tulle
but rather still a ravenous hollow encircled in overgrowth
I sneak down to the pantry and devour an entire box of oatmeal cream pies in the dark
before going upstairs to brush my perfect teeth 1 at a time.

What happened next? Well, I cried

I cried for the little girl in me who wanted to be a ballerina but was instead told, "You'd be so pretty if you could just lose some weight." I cried for the young adult in me who thought she was a genius when she discovered bulimia, without knowing the word for it. I cried for the adult in me who knows that this eating disorder is like an addiction in that it will be with me always, in spite of having beat the behaviors long long ago. 

And now my stomach hurt. I'm sure it's because of the #whole30 decaf mocha I just gulped. It couldn't be feelings.