I have always been described as being a big girl. By age 4, I was almost as tall as my sister, who was nearing 7. I am not fat, per se, soft in the middle yes (well until recently), but I am big. Broad shoulders, wide hips, larges hands and feet (down to a size 9.5 now that I have recently lost some weight!).
As I have mentioned before, I actually, personally, don't really have an issue with my own size. The issue I have is that other people seem to have an issue with it.
I can remember being young and visiting my grandmother, a ritual that was dedicated to most Saturday afternoons growing up. One day as lunch was wrapping up, she offered my sister some cookies and didn't offer me any. I remember being super confused as those butter cookies from the blue tin were my favorite (especially the pretzel shaped ones covered in the sugar crystals) and I asked for a few, too. She looked at me for a few beats too long with a rare sternness that I had never seen before and said:
"You are too chubby to have cookies anymore. Your sister is a nice weight for a little girl. You are getting very round. I am helping you. Look at your aunt (her daughter) she was beautiful like you and always struggled with her weight and now she is heavy, huge. You don't want to be like her. You are going to have to work at being shapely and I am going help you. You have a beautiful face, you do, but you will always be big if you don't try not to be. Your sister, she will have an easier time being thin, but she isn't nearly as pretty. Men like woman who are small, since you are going to be so tall, you will have to work extra hard to be lean."
My sister and I were little girls at the time of this conversation.....5 and 8 perhaps. We both remember it and we both don't really love this grandmother as much as we should. I consider it to be the day that I lost some of my innocence, that I really became aware of my body and my size. Grandmother taught me that having one good thing, like a "pretty face" wouldn't be enough if I couldn't match it will a thin body. I remember going to school that fall and comparing myself to every other little girl in the classroom. Thinking, I am prettier than her, but I am bigger than her. What did grandma do to me? I remember coming home and crying because there was only one little girl in the entire classroom that was bigger than me.....grandma was right, I really was huge.
Being called out on being big then became a fear of mine. I hated the way that lunchtime conversation made me feel. Being shamed in front of my older sister, the idol of any little sister, about my size. I know in my heart, I wasn't a small girl, but my mom and dad, they never made much of a big deal. I was tall, I would be tall like some of the women in my family, no big deal. And they were right, I reached my final height of 5'9 (and a half) before I even arrived at college. No big deal.
I went through school, all of school, college included, in fear of being called fat. I know this is crazy, but I did. And I was called fat many times. I was also a huge asshole to people myself sometimes, so perhaps this is the easy thing to call me, "fat", because as grandma already informed me, I am lucky to NOT be fat and ugly. Fat AND ugly is the real problem....
I have been considering going back to school to get a masters in a subject I love, for fun, at my own pace, not for any career incentive. I wasted my school years being afraid of being called out. I would love to return to school secure in myself. To not worry about weight, social standing, or what I would wear to class. I mean, imagine going to class and having the only objective be to learn?!
What a novel idea.