Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Fat Me in the Eyes of a Thin Friend
I have a very thin friend who just does not understand my struggle. By the end of my journey down Highway 150, I will have lost at least one and a half times her body weight. She cannot comprehend that. When I told her I had lost 35 pounds, she asked me if that was really possible. She has no frame of reference for the idea of being fat. She eats what she wants, when she wants, and often has to struggle to maintain her weight without losing.
My friend knows that I am blogging about my journey, but no matter how often she asks I will not tell her how to find this blog. She is a writer, and she wants to read what I write. But she cannot understand what I write. She might read what I write with curiosity or fascination or horror, but she will never be able to understand. She has no way to even imagine losing 50, 100, 150 pounds. I get irritated by her failure to understand, but I do not want to be the person who tells her what it is like to be fat.
My friend is one of the few people I know who truly sees me as a fat person. I am uncomfortable with her perceptions of me. One of the things that bothers me the most is her assumption that I have limitations because of my weight. I do, of course, but I have always believed that I was the one who should place them, not allow others to do it for me. This is not a new condition; I have been fat for a long time. I know what I can and cannot do. I do not want anyone to tell me that I am not able.
My friend told me one day that she feared I would have a massive heart attack. Not at some indefinable point in the future, but right then, right in front of her. We were walking down a path from the beach, and I had stopped to readjust my hold on the things I carried. She assumed that I stopped because the walk was too strenuous, that I was about to keel over. Embarrassment, shame, ridicule... I felt all those things. But the sharpest emotion I felt was anger. I know that my friend felt concern for me, but it was concern tainted by her thinness.
We are still friends and have grown close again after I allowed a great distance to come between us. My friend is still thin and I am still fat, but I am changing. The truth, as much as I hated it, was that I could not do many things because of my size. I am changing that. Every day I am changing, transforming, remaking and reshaping myself into the person thin people think I should be. I am becoming the person I think I should be. On my journey I will meet many people. I hope that I will not make judgments about their abilities based on their size or shape.