Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Take Me Baby, or Leave Me

For everyone who's ever decided to radically transform themselves, I think there's always a huge, lingering "what if". The one on which I'm dwelling is an old, familiar nightmare that I experienced once before in college and to a degree when I underwent the LapBand several years ago.

Whenever someone who's been overweight most of his or her life suddenly loses weight, people don't know quite how to react. Because I didn't know how to handle it the year that I went on a medically-supervised liquid protein fast (read: starvation diet of 600cal. a day) and lost eighty pounds over the summer between my sophomore and junior years of college, I made some rookie mistakes. I didn't clue into the downside fast enough when a boy I'd had an interest in suddenly moved in on me with all the grace and speed of a Great White Shark...and dropped me with even greater haste when he realized I was the same girl in a more socially-acceptable-looking package.

So there I was, tottering around campus wearing a size 12 for the first time since seventh grade...which was still fat for an SEC school in the Eighties. Men tried to chat me up. I got stopped after class or in the various classroom buildings. I was whistled at and catcalled from the windows of the Six Pack fraternity houses. The whole time I was thinking, "What the hell is that about?", because none of that crap had ever happened to me.

It was short-lived. After the breakup with Shark Boy, I retreated, abandoned the diet, and ate everything in reach. I ballooned again.

So there's this dark, murky thought floating through the back of my mind: "How will I respond, at such time that I look more socially acceptable again, if the men who have patted me on the head suddenly regard me as attractive? It's still the same girl, in a different package." When I talked to my sister about it, I told her that she could come visit me in the women's prison near the city where she lives, because I figured I'd go berserk and hurt someone.

I've been there before, and this will be even more radical. Women are so closely judged by their looks, moreover their weight, and if I'm not fat anymore, who am I? It's been my identity since the third grade, even though by the fifth grade it was somewhat the creation of another fat girl who was trying to deflect attention away from herself. What happens when I'm not safe, friend-quality, 'fat me'?

It might be painful finding out, but at least I'll be in pain in jeans that I didn't have to buy from a specialty catalog or a plus-size store. That's a good thing, right? Maybe. I don't know.

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