THIS IS THE SETUP: Why should you be nice to someone who is fat?
THIS IS THE PUNCHLINE: Because they have enough on their plate.
this is you, eight years old the first time you realize that your stomach is just a little bit bigger than the ones your friends have. it happens at a sleepover when cake is served and you’re the only one to take a third slice. this is you later, sitting with your fist in a popcorn bowl, watching disney movies. you look nothing like the princesses. you don’t have ariel’s waist or jasmine’s or anybody’s. you love the lion king because nobody’s human in it. this is the first time you learn that a fat person’s place is cracking jokes. everyone will love you if you’re funny enough.
THIS IS THE SETUP: Relationships are just like fat people.
THIS IS THE PUNCHLINE: Most of them don’t work out.
this is you, thirteen the first time your best friend kisses someone. her blonde hair spreads across your lap as she giggles about it. she has such blue eyes and such a perfect body. you are used to how easily she makes friends. you are used to how people just draw themselves towards her as if she was a solar eclipse. you are used to being funny while she is beautiful. you are her sidekick. you are always making them laugh. this is you, fourteen the first time you put on a miniskirt and stare in the mirror. you take it off and wear jeans to school. it is not your job to be sexy, it’s hers.
THIS IS THE SETUP: You know what’s ironic about pubs refusing to serve someone already drunk?
THIS IS THE PUNCHLINE: McDonald’s still serves fat people.
this is you, trying to lose weight in every way you can think of. atkins. paleo. alphabet. south beach. eating healthy, only eating halves, only eating orange food, only eating ginger root. this is you, somehow gaining weight no matter what you do. this is the phone call to your friends when you fake sick so you don’t have to go out swimsuit shopping with them. this is mentally begging yourself to stop feeding yourself at four a.m. but being unable to do it, just shoving more and more food into that rotten hole of a mouth, sucking up every crumb and cracker. these are tears pouring down your cheeks while you eat and eat and eat, sometimes forty-eight (and a quarter) servings of your “safe food,” sometimes a whole jar of peanut butter, sometimes a little bit of everything (followed by a lot of everything) until it feels like you’re not even human in those moments, like your hands are out of your control. it’s both disgusting to you and the only way that you feel whole. this is you, tumbling into a dark place until you find yourself secretly lusting for some kind of disease to strip this body off of your bones. this is you, feeling so guilty for the stray thought “i wish i had the control to starve myself.” this is you, stuffing a whole box of oreos into your mouth and thinking, “i wish i could stop.”
THIS IS THE SETUP: Life is like a box of chocolates.
THIS IS THE PUNCHLINE: It doesn’t last very long for fat people.
this is you, on the bus, closing your eyes and pretending you don’t hear the little boy say “mommy, why’s she so big?” this is you, overhearing whispers in the gym’s changing room. this is you, pretending to be overly confident because inside you’re completely wilted. this is you, skipping out of parties just so you don’t have to meet anybody, just so you don’t have to watch the look on their face when they first see you. this is you, picturing a zipper on the back of your neck, wanting to step out of this body. this is you, right before you fall asleep, wishing for some kind of needle to suck all of the fat right out of your tummy. this is you, telling your skinny friends “love yourself no matter what you eat,” and never hearing it used when you need it - when you’re freaking out, this is you finding messages like “why not try working out? i can come with you if that will help,” “eating healthy is easy once you get used to it!” “you’re not really very big, not like seriously anyway. just wear clothes that aren’t very tight. no one will see.” this is you, having no one to talk to. this is you, begging yourself for control. this is you, growing older and still only getting bigger, bigger, bigger, while your heart seems dead-set on shrinking ever smaller. this is you, being asked if you are pregnant. this is you, without a prom date, unwilling to wear a dress, reading books where the fat girl gets all the guys because she’s funny even though you’re actually left all by yourself, this is you listening to girls talk about sex, this is you being the odd one out, the walking insecurity, the faceless monster, the unpretty.
THIS IS THE SETUP: You hate food so much you want to set yourself on fire, you want to burn off your fingers so you never pick up another sandwich, you want to sew your mouth closed and chop away at the rolls on your hips, you want to dissolve into a puddle and just be pretty and popular and skinnier than the rest - more importantly, you want to actually feel those things, actually feel good about yourself, actually be able to do things but
THIS IS THE PUNCHLINE: You keep eating.
this is you, the joke sitting permanently on your bones. this is you, but you are not alone. this is your best friend and you are both only a little tipsy when a drunk girl says “you need to lose some weight, fatty,” this is your best friend throwing the only punch you’ve ever seen her give, her small stature usually leaning towards being more passive. she bruises her knuckles and rips the other girl’s dress. a stranger mutters something under her breath while you squeeze through a door and your little sister goes from all smiles directly into fire, she spits out more sass than you’re sure is appropriate for a high schooler, she says things you think she’ll have to apologize in church for. this is you, being there for yourself when you feel like you have no one, standing in the mirror and saying, “my eyes are great and i am important.” this is you, refusing to be the punchline anymore, refusing to be beaten into a pulp, this is you, willful and maybe not as proud of yourself as you’d like to be but still ready for anything, this is you, occasionally still falling apart because it all hurts so badly, a lot - but this is you, and you have always been more than three letters, more than a word, more than anything they said to you to get themselves off, this is you and this is your story. be sure that you are the one doing the writing. don’t let them turn your saga into a tragedy.
this is you, and you are learning how to feel beautiful, slowly.