This weekend I spent some time with someone I don't know very well. I still don't know her very well. In some ways I know more about her now than she probably realizes.
She was nice, really. I've always thought this person was nice. She told me lots of things about her life, said lots of things to me that made me realize what other people are saying about me. Overall, the conversation was fine. Really, the only problem I can think of about the whole thing was that she kept telling me how fat I was.
Not in those words of course. She kept referring to herself and saying to others, "Well, when you are fat like me and Stephanie" or "I need to lose weight. Stephanie knows what I'm talking about."
This is not unusual, actually. I used to do a whole lot of looking-around-the-room-verifying-if-I-was-the-fattest-person. It's comforting in some way to feel like you're not the only one that needs to step away from the cupcakes. I stopped caring as much when I met friends who were, you know, actual friends. Smart women who cared more about things like nurturing their children and kicking ass at work than they did about what number was on the inside of their jeans. I didn't need to compete with these women. It was a good thing. It is a good thing.
I don't need to compete with myself either, but I find that much harder. I guess that's all part of being fat like me.
The funny thing about all this is, I didn't really realize the other woman was fat. Honestly, I didn't. Maybe I'm just desensitized, or maybe I just don't care. I just didn't see what the big deal was. Still don't.
I suppose I shouldn't care that she kept calling me fat either. It's not a secret. It's a descriptive word, not some judgement of my moral character and who I am. I cannot hide the extra fifty or so pounds I'm carting around, no matter how many pairs of Spanx I own. I have a belly. I have thighs that just won't quit (even though I ask them nicely). I have a butt. I jiggle in places I don't want to jiggle. Maybe in those ways, and a million others, she's fat like me.
And really, I don't know her very well. Maybe she's lost over a 100 pounds, and she still has to deal with the fact that are people in the world that will never ever see that she's smart and funny and pretty and a great mom and a hard worker because all they see is the next fifty pounds that she still needs to lose. Maybe she's afraid to meet new people, because she can't exactly explain, "Well, see, I used to be even fatter than I am now". Maybe she's met people who have said to her, "You'd be so pretty if you just lost some weight". Maybe it hurt her inside because those people had no idea how hard she'd been working, and for how long. Maybe she's aware that every bite she ever eats is watched and calculated and criticized. If she knows about all that, then really. Who am I too judge her motives? She's fat just like me.
Maybe she's been called names, honked at, moo-ed at, afraid...hurt. Maybe after she got called those names she kept walking. Kept her chin up and didn't shed one tear. Kept going even though she didn't want to. She didn't eat the cookie when she got home either. If so? Then she's fat like me.
Maybe she eats the salad when she wants the burger. Maybe she struggles with her demons. Maybe she's still hungry when she goes to bed. Maybe she stands on the scale, curses and cries and then keeps on doing the right things. Because she knows what the right things are. Knows that the right things aren't diet pills and quick fixes. She knows that plateaus are depressing and sometimes last a year. She has a doctor who cheers her on because she keeps on trying...a doctor who is the only one ever to point out the success instead of the failures. She keeps on going. She knows those miles aren't getting the fat off her butt, but appreciates that at least they are putting distance between her and the aching sadness in her heart that just won't go away. So she goes.
Maybe she still gets called fat by people who are only trying to make themselves feel better. But she goes on. She keeps going.
Then, I just can't fault her. She's fat like me.