Anyone who has been severely overweight has experienced what I am about to describe. You go to a social event and one of the first thoughts in your mind upon walking in (or even as early as accepting the invitation to the event) is, ‘I hope I’m not the fattest one here.’ As you enter the room/place you survey the area quietly, careful not to draw any attention to yourself while you scan the other bodies. Thin, thin, thin, chubby but not even close to my size, thin, too skinny, thin etc. You then realize that one of your fears as been dumped at your feet and is staring you straight in the face. YOU ARE THE FATTEST ONE THERE.
Tonight I attended a Miche purse party. I have a complex about ALWAYS BEING THE FATTEST PERSON at any given event. I was under no misconception that even though I am only 1lb away from losing 50lbs that once again I would be THE FATTEST PERSON IN THE ROOM. So, I walk from my house to my aunt’s house (roughly a 5 minute walk), my aunt helps me get Buzzy out of the stroller and then Breezely and as I walk in my gramma (who has been setting up for the party all afternoon) immediately introduces me to the purse lady. We’ll call her Pam. I murmur my salutation and take Breezely who is starting to whine at my aunt, and this is when I get a peripheral view of our hostess. My eyes nearly bulge out of their sockets. ‘Put them back in, you idiot!’ I chastise myself. ‘That is exactly the reaction you do not want people to have to you.’ And as you can guess, Pam was quite the large lady. I would estimate her height at maybe 5’10” and her weight well over 325lbs. Perhaps significantly so. I was shocked and I must admit, horribly relieved. For ONCE I was not the fattest person.
As the party moved on I noticed Pam watching me. She watched how I moved and watched how I dealt with my babies. Now only a ‘fellow fatty’ would understand this ‘viewing process’. You see, I do the same thing when there is another ‘overweight’ person in the room but who is still smaller than me. You assess them. How and where are they smaller? Do THEY fit in the chairs? Do THEY look as uncomfortable as YOU feel? Are they looking around the room the way you are? And of course, the doozy, Is there anything about me that looks better than them? This is what Pam appeared to be doing. I found it oddly comforting to recognize it. Then later when the party was nearly to a close, my gramma started handing out cake. I decided to have a piece but I noticed that Pam initially started to raise her hand to say that she indeed wanted a piece. She stopped, quickly glanced at me and waited to see if I would have one. I accepted one from my gramma and she quickly did the same. It sort of felt like a game of copy cat only this time I GOT TO BE THE CAT!
When the party was done, I got to talking to Pam. We talked about food, WW, diets, The Biggest Loser etc. Apparently a few years ago she had done WW, lost 130lbs and had gained it right back because the point system never allowed her to truly see what she was eating (or so she explains it – I wouldn’t know. I have never done WW on the point system) She had also tried out for The Biggest Loser at the Portland casting call, received a follow up but never heard from anyone after that. She was however contacted by the creators of The Biggest Loser for another at home series that may air sometimes next fall. She is crossing her fingers that she gets on it. I am too. She needs to the lose the weight, as it is mainly in her midsection. I somehow was able to gracefully talk about my recent 50lbs loss but the gleam of sadness and jealousy was very evident in her eyes. If I had never experienced that same sadness, that same jealousy, that same ‘IF SHE CAN, WHY CAN’T I?’ feeling, I never would have recognized it but it was there. There in the quick blink of her eyes and the small purse of her lips and the way she immediately looked down as I said it. I felt awful but felt that perhaps it would be motivating to know she isn’t the only one going through such a tough time.
On another note, at this same party were three 8 year olds (my cousin and her two friends) and one of her friends who we’ll call Shannon broke my heart. The girl reminded me so much of myself when I was her age. She wasn’t skin and bones like my cousin and her other friend but she wasn’t fat. solid. Thick perhaps, but nowhere near chubby, let alone fat. To start with at the beginning of the party Shannon loaded her plate with food and her mother scoffed. ‘Are you really going to eat all of that?’ ‘Yeah, I’m hungry and L (L is my cousin) wants to have a picnic. ‘oooh.’ Says her mother with a raised eyebrow and I could feel Shannon pull into herself defensively as she walked away with her food. (Mind you we didn’t have junk. We had fresh fruit, pita with hummus, tapenade with pita chips, crackers with ham and cheese and veggies and dip. No chips, no chocolate, no cookies and really no junky junk. I couldn’t understand why her mom was so upset with her daughter’s full plate. Then, as the party was coming to a close I noticed something. Shannon kept pulling her retainer out and stuffing something in her mouth. Once it was a strawberry. Then a piece of pita. Then a pita chip. Then a piece of pineapple. When her mother noticed she immediately said, ‘Shannon, no more food. Put your retainer back in and let’s go.’ Then her mother would proceed to continue talking and they would not leave and so Shannon would gravitate back toward the food. She would peak around the wall into the hallway to see if her mom was paying attention and then pop another piece of food. She did this several times and it BROKE MY HEART. It was me. 17 years ago. Popping food into my mouth quickly so no one would see and then racing to see who was paying attention. No one really ever was except when they would say for the twelfth time, ‘Come on Kris, let’s go!’ and then they would continue to socialize. I pray that for this little girl, small habits such as this does not turn into the eternal weight battle that it has for me.
Which brings me to my self discovery. I have been trying to work out in my head why I used to eat so much. Why I binged. Why I turned and sometimes unfortunately, still turn to food. I hear so many self discoveries. Numbing the pain of abuse. Feeling the need to be in control of SOMETHING. And several other reasons such as this. But I CANNOT FOR THE LIFE OF ME place my finger on just one reason. So I’m going to go through it here. Maybe my readers can pick up on something I am either just not seeing or subconsciously keeping from myself.
1. Since I can remember, I have had a big appetite. I don’t remember often being told I had to stay at the table to finish my food before I could get down.
2. My first memory of BINGE EATING is when I was very little (7 or 8) and my mom and step-dad would argue. The louder they got the more popsicles/candy/cookies but mainly popsicles I would eat. I once ate almost 2 boxes of popsicles during one of their fights.
3. I used to sneak food. I would sneak down to the pantry when someone was in the shower or otherwise indisposed and eat as many of something (cookies/chips/candy) as I could and as soon as I knew they were coming I’d close the bag/box/container and act as though I hadn’t been doing anything.
4. I remember from very very early in my life, I was always told I was big. ‘Big for my age’, ‘Big bones’, ‘Big girl’, ‘She’s gonna be a tall one’ or ‘She’s only *insert age here*??’
5. Apparently when I was a baby the doctors wrongly informed my mom that I would grow to be about 6 feet tall. Yeah, hi, just barely 5’4” here guys. What the hell do you know? But my family apparently took it to heart because I remember my whole life being told I was going to grow to be 6 feet tall.
6. When I lived alone for a year I could go all day without eating and then at night binge on an entire carton of Ben & Jerry’s coffee heath bar crunch ice cream.
7. I feel more connected to people when we eat together. For example: Today my mom was eating lunch. I had already had lunch had hadn’t intended on eating anything else until the party tonight. But I felt like I needed to eat with her (not for her, but for me) so I had a snack.
8. I find I eat when I don’t feel wanted or I specifically feel rejected. For example: If someone in my family is going to the movies (and obviously with Buzzy and Breezely, I can’t go) I immediately feel the need to eat. Anything similar, I feel like I must eat.
9. As a child I remember begging my mom or gramma to let me wear x-set of clothing ONE MORE TIME even though they were too small for me. They always eventually let me and I always regretted it.
10. As a child I also remember people poking/pinching and handling my lower belly saying how cute it was. I have always always always hated me lower belly.
11. When I grew up my great grandma always made me junky foods when I stayed at her house. Eggo waffles for breakfast, snacks of my choosing, top ramen for lunch and corned beef hash with eggs and toast for dinner and always always always some kind of ice cream or popcicle for dessert.
12. I remember my mom obsessing over her image. She was beautiful and sexy and she knew it. I remember my grandma always obsessing over her weight. She used to walk 7-13 miles with me in my stroller every day until I went to school and I remember my grandpa’s protein shakes. He always let me have some in my own cup. They were sooooo good.
13. I remember in school always trying to ‘trade-out’ something in my lunch for something better (ie: chips/cookies/candy) and when I got into high school it turned into just asking for things in people’s lunches. No trading anymore.
I think I’m sorta getting off topic now. You’re thinking, no really?!?! LOL Well in any case, I am still desperately trying to find out my motivation for making food my #1 friend for so long. Any ideas (barring expensive psycho-therapy) on how to achieve that are welcome! Until tomorrow my blog girlies.
The Fat Chick