Liberation Through Skeletons in the Closet

One of my newspaper columns from when I was in college (a liberal women’s college at that)…

Liberation Through Skeletons in the Closet

Hi everyone. In case you haven’t noticed I’m fat. Those of you who don’t know me personally now know my secret. And the funny thing about being fat is that society has made “fat” a taboo word. For example, if you call someone fat, this is considered to be a bad thing. It’s bad to be fat. Now there are certain health risks associated with being fat, but there are also health risks in being a high school student in America today, like being shot by a classmate. But this isn’t about fancy terms or classification; this is simply about independence.

See, before last semester, I could never say I was fat, overweight, or the other terms associated with obesity. And not only could I not say I was fat, but I also could not accept myself for being fat. Camryn Manheim, a robust actress on ABC’s prime-time drama said it herself, “The world isn’t lining up to respect or employ fat people.” But, maybe times really are a’changing.

One of my favorite shows is “E.R.” (not because of Noah Wyle. I love Erik Palladino) and as I watched Thursday, April 20’s repeat episode, I noticed several big, beautiful women in the background. Yeah, they were not the main actresses, but some representation is better than no representation at all.

Not only am I more attuned to media representations of fat women (for men, this is not a big issue, excuse the pun), but I’ve accepted myself as not only a BIG individual, but also a beautiful one. What happened, you ask? Some miracle diet? Too much Richard Simmons? Absolutely not. I took “Introduction to Gender Studies”, a communications course taught by Isabel Molina last fall. For my final project, I decided to do something that cut close to my heart, how overweight women are portrayed in the media. I read Camryn Manheim’s book, Wake Up, I’m Fat!, and studied many actresses. I even submitted my paper to the Women’s Studies Conference, and it was accepted. I was honored to present my paper before conference attendees, and the President’s Council, but that’s really not the point.
The point is this- I was amazed to be chosen. Women are actually taking a look at their dress sizes and saying, “Hey! I may be a size 18, but I’m still gorgeous!” It’s about time.
Middle school was hell for me. Not only was I white in a racially tense Allentown middle school, but I was also in the gifted class and yes, I was fat even then. You can imagine how the ridicule increased my eighth grade year when I openly proclaimed that I had become a born-again Christian. I got called every name in the book, and a few that I think were made up especially for me. Even in Christian high school, my weight was always an issue. When my “best friend’ told everyone about my crush on the cutest guy in the high school, I was the laughingstock. All because of a few extra pounds.

I was ostracized for being fat, and even called a lesbian because I did not date the boys at my high school. Obviously they didn’t see the double standard, if I was too fat to date guys, then it was obvious why I couldn’t get a date. At the end of my rope, I wanted to die. I could painfully lose weight, or live with torment.
And everyone thinks it’s so easy to lose weight! Even though I don’t overeat and I am very active, I still am fat. To lose weight, I must go hungry and exercise excessively. Even some of my relatives turned against me, “If you would lose weight, you would be such a pretty girl. You would drive the boys wild.” Well, guess what I learned? I am a pretty girl, and I do drive the boys wild. Maybe not all the boys, but definitely the ones that are worth holding my hand.

I don’t have it all figured out and I still struggle to accept the image I see in the mirror everyday. I tried to love myself for who God saw me as, but it didn’t work, because I was trying to see myself through thin eyes. When you see me when we return for the fall semeter, maybe I’ll be several pounds lighter, but maybe I won’t. It doesn’t matter. Now that I can accept myself for who I really am as a person, and who I am in Christ, weight is not an issue. The real issue is, will you accept me?

0 thoughts on “Liberation Through Skeletons in the Closet

  1. I wish your blog entry could be posted in every female magazine out there. We have become so obsessed with weight that even professional models struggle with imperfections. I so tired of the standard out there. I love to see the Dove (?) models on tv or in the ads. It just reminds me that God is creative and thank heavens we are not all barbie dolls walking around.

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