Fatism… Fatist… I must confess being a little shallow, to harboring certain secret prejudices. I try to couch it in terms of being healthy. I tell myself that it is not about beauty, it is about being healthy, avoiding the risk of diabetes and heart disease, cholesterol but secretly, deep, deep down… I clearly use body mass as one of my measures for beauty, attractiveness, sexiness.
I do not snub people that are big or people that are obese. I know they are valuable and valid and have tons and tons of very cool stuff to contribute to this world. Body size does not influence my liking or friendship. On a very intellectual and political level I can even acknowledge that they are beautiful and that they can be very sexually attractive to others, though I am painfully aware that I am not one of them. My standards of beauty are influenced by my culture, the media and my upbringing.
All my childhood, my slender mother was on one kind of diet or another. Her dedication to weight loss was endless and in many ways a passive-aggressive stab at my father. He was always fat… a big strong man with broad shoulders and massive arms and a great round and surprisingly firm beer belly. Even now as age slowly shrinks him down and down… that belly remains, unchanged, even though the shoulders and arms and legs grow frail. Hugging him was and is a process of curling around that solid dome of flesh. Strangely oblivious to my mother, he always seemed to take pride in his fatness, laughed his big, charismatic laugh and caressed that monument to his larger than life appetites.
I took after my mom. I was stick skinny as a kid. Even as a young woman, I was angular, my curves on the subtle rather than the generous side. But the foundation was from my father’s side of the family, broad shoulders, bigger bones. I sometimes say I am the descendant of the women that pulled the plows. The framework was superb and as I matured, the pounds settled in all the right places. I weighed 122 pounds when I got married to my first husband at 20. My mother could not resist informing me that she weighed a 122 pounds the day before I was born.
And the men in my life have reinforced this. First boyfriend would wax rhapsodically about my thighs… first husband came from a family where his abusive father would openly chastise his mother about being fat in front of the kids and he did little to hide his disappointment as I added a pound here and there as I had our children. And I must admit I shared his thinking, that while veiled under politically correct verbage of health, my personal value and ego were tangled up with my shape.
I do know it is heartbreaking to have friends who are so big that they cannot pick things up from the floor or have difficulty walking or getting in and out of cars. I hate that my father’s knees hurt him all the time from lugging around that medicine ball of a gut for sixty years.
Then as that first marriage began to decay and the years passed by the pounds began to accumulate. Suddenly I was 135… and looking back… I was still thin, but to husband number one, not thin enough. And when he found a new woman to love, one of the many cruel and thoughtless things he said to me was that she wasn’t fat. Lol… that was a good 25 pounds ago.
Second husband and now Master never once has spoken to me about my weight. But when I lost weight… dropping 35 pounds going from 185 to 150… he did not hide his delight. And he has become a little more open about his appreciation for the “slimmer” female form. He will make small regretful statements about some random woman’s size detracting from her attractiveness, words like “too bad about her ass”. And I will glance and wonder if my ass is that big and if it was, would he keep his judgment to himself?
And yet I am my harshest critic. I have gained back 10 pounds. My self-worth is entangled with how fat I am. Master must tread lightly, be very careful about how he talks about my figure or I will melt down in panicky flurries of “am I fat????” “Does this make me look fat?” “Is she bigger than me?” I find these little storms of insecurity pathetic and yet I have difficulty controlling them.
And this last Friday, we went to a party for my daughter-in-law at my ex-husband’s house. While we are not exactly friends, we are civil, we have a grudging respect for each other. I know the reasons we split up cannot all be laid upon one doorstep or the other. I also know it did not really have anything to do with my relative fatness or lack there-of but the scars from those words so many years ago are still on my heart. He lives with the same lady he left me for so many years ago. She is smart, pretty, fun and oh so much fatter than me now. I could not help but glance at him out the corner of my eye with a certain smug delight. I hope he has managed do deal with his fatism better than me.
I could not help but comment to Master in the car on the ride home the nasty, judgmental words about how happy I was that I was now finally the thinner one. And as I heard those words, I felt a small pang of shame that I still keep that prejudice inside my heart and that it makes these ten pounds scare the shit out of me.