(Why are all the fat people on tv black?)
Swimming at the Y today, I squinted in the bright sun. Everywhere I looked, fat oozed out of bathing suits - from 2-year old toddlers to 80-year old grandmas. Rolls of flabby skin filled with fat curled around bikinis; cellulite displayed like a prized possession.
When I weighed 130 pounds at 12 years old, I was the fattest thing walking. I was called "Pacer" (a car from the early 70's) - "the car with the wide rear-end." I could never have imagined I would see 7-year olds weighing 130 pounds on a regular basis.
I can't believe how fat people are now. It was more common at the pool to see obese people than people of "normal" weight.
Years ago, right after my gastric bypass, I joked that I was woefully late with fashion sizes - that during all the years of people being thin, I was fat and just when it seems fat is becoming popular, I was going to be the minority again! How weird is it that fat is now the norm. Is this healthy?
Through the years, I've been swimming from 90 pounds (at 7 years old) to 350 pounds (at 40 years old), always ashamed of my flab and jiggly-ness. Even when I was a lifeguard, the most fit time of my life, I was still far fatter than my co-workers and friends. Hiding behind towels, huge tee shirts and bathing suits with little frilly skate skirts was the only way I could walk from any locker room to chair or chair to pool.
I've lived a life of being made fun of. I've had oranges thrown at me when I was out exercising. Another time, a group of kids threw eggs at me. I've had more moo's than any cow could ever emit. Once, in an Italian restaurant, a group of men were so mean, I started crying. My amazing partner, a cop at the time, walked over and asked them how proud would their mothers be right at that moment. "Look at her! You made her cry! She's a person, you know. Knock it off." Kids have asked if I was pregnant, pregnant with twins, just had a baby and why I was so fat. I've been laughed at, mocked, pointed at, humiliated and pitied.
When I had the gastric bypass, the most disconcerting aspect of it all wasn't the weight falling off, but the silencing of those evil voices from strangers and comments from innocent children. Almost like someone pressing the mute button, once I lost 100 pounds, people stopped laughing and pointing. It took many months for me to stop throwing up my guard when groups of teenage boys walked towards me and I was stunned when young men opened the door for me - something that NEVER happened at 300+ pounds. My guard has virtually vanished.
That's why, when a little girl at Winn-Dixie in New Orleans said, "Mom, why is that fat lady bald?" I knew it was time to do something about my weight. I mean, I knew I needed to do something before I went to New Orleans, but that mashed it right back in my face. I hadn't been called "fat" in over 4 years. It didn't feel good.
In Louisiana, fat was the norm. I felt sexy and sultry in the wet heat. I joked that I didn't need to lose weight, I just needed to move. (Women in Southern California are sooooooooooo tiny and sooooooooooo pretty.)
Until today, I was feeling abnormal again.
With the sea of swimmers at the Y being fat, I wasn't quite as abnormal as I thought I was.
Today, sagging flesh, puddles of fat, jiggling and cellulite-covered, I walked without a second's bit of shame.
I believe, for the first time in my life.