I’ve been struggling lately.
By all accounts, my life is pretty damn great. I live in a great town, have fantastic friends, and an amazing girlfriend who surprises me more and more each day with her capacity to love….but I’m struggling.
Sister Act opens on Friday night, and I’m playing one of the nuns. I love little character roles like these – they’re quirky, funny, and a lot of fun to play.
But there’s one thing I don’t love.
I LOVE to dress up. I LOVE a good costume.
But needing a costume that I can’t provide myself is a huge source of anxiety. Just the measurement taking process was enough to dissolve me into a puddle of tears.
And then, there’s the actual day the costumes arrive.
Will it fit?
Will it look like everyone else?
Will I stick out like a poorly dressed, sore thumb?
This past Saturday was hell-day [as I like to call it] and once again, it dredged up all my anxiety and self loathing, to the point that I couldn’t get into and stay in character for the dress rehearsal last night. My notes were off, my dancing was stiff, I was struggling to keep cues…all because I was afraid of being seen and mocked.
I know I can sing. I know I’m funny. I know. But in the moment, it feels like all anyone can see is fat.
And people, it’s exhausting.
I get it. If you haven’t been big, you can’t ‘get’ what it feels like to be…fat.
And let’s just call it that, okay?
I’m not big boned, or broad shouldered. I’m fat.
Short. And. Fat.
And then I read comments on the internet, or go shopping and people moo at me in the parking lot….and I think….how can people be so cruel?
But they are.
Fat shaming is the last acceptable form of discrimination. It happens constantly.
Last night, as I sat backstage, trying to get out of my own head, I found myself talking to another one of the nuns, commiserating on what it feels like to live in a fat girl’s body….what it feels like to have a fat girl’s mind and heart…..
Yes, a fat girl’s mind and heart is different.
How about a glimpse inside? Are you brave?
Living in a fat girl’s mind is…
knowing that people describe you by your size when explaining who you are, rather than on hair color, personality, anything else.
It’s researching the store before you walk in, to determine if there are any clothes that even have a chance of fitting. It’s not even going into ‘regular stores’ to avoid awkward stares from non-fat sales girls. It’s the pile of clothes that really, you would never choose if you had the choice: the oversized tunics to cover the bulges at the tops of your thighs; the cardigans that you never button up because the buttons would tug; the 4 pairs of shoes you wear with everything because most shoes hurt your feet; the dress that is falling apart, but you keep mending it because it actually gives you some semblance of a shape, and they don’t make them anymore.
It’s the panic that rises in your throat as soon as you take one step inside a shopping center, on the street, on public transit, anywhere where there are people…people who could see how big you are…people who can and do stare…people who whisper, or worse yet, yell.
It’s the following comfort you feel as soon as you enter a safe place (your car, or your home). It’s fantasizing how life would feel if you were a ‘normal’ weight, but then you cry because it’s a pipe dream.
It’s the little fear that you feel whenever sitting on a new chair, just in case it breaks. It’s the sore tops of your feet you get when you try to put most of your weight onto one foot instead of onto chairs that you just can’t be sure about.
It’s the one pretty bra among the white or skin color ones, that you bought in a heartbeat when you saw that a near-pretty and colored bra was actually in your size…..and you only wear it every once in a while because it doesn’t really fit all that great, but you keep it, and put it on top of all of the other stuff your drawer to make you feel like you have pretty underwear like all the normal girls.
It’s looking upwards in photos to attempt to shield the 3 double chins that’s turned into one. It’s your continual ‘4 boobs’ if you try to wear the cute bra instead of one of the utilitarian white ones that hold you up and in properly.
It’s the cast photo that you spent 36 minutes trying to find because you needed a photo that was decent, that people may actually believe was taken recently.
It’s the food that you don’t eat in public, even though you’re hungry as fuck – but you don’t have the emotional strength and energy to deal with people looking at you while you eat.
It’s the tears that sting the backs of your eyeballs throughout the day until you can release them into your pillow at night.
It’s the piercing arrow in your heart when you realize that some people value thinness more than character.
It’s googling airplane seat dimensions and holding a ruler up to your backside before flying somewhere. It’s the complete abandonment of airplane travel because you are afraid that the person sitting next to you will make a scene that you’re touching them and you’ll be thrown off the flight, and the social anxiety would be too much to bear.
It’s the pipe dream of getting a lead role that isn’t a grotesque caricature. It’s the relief you feel when you walk past a bigger woman on the street. Not because there’s someone out there bigger than you, but because you know that at least one person you walked past wasn’t judging you today.
It’s actually knowing what it feels like to want the floor to swallow you up after someone makes a public comment about your weight. It’s the digging of your fingers into your thigh to distract you from crying.
It’s feeling embarrassed when the costume doesn’t fit, and you can’t stop the tears.
It’s the tears that I’ve cried, the humiliation that I’ve been opened up with, and the embarrassment that I’ve hidden.
It’s fighting tooth and nail to believe that your girlfriend isn’t lying when she says you’re beautiful. It’s wondering how she could be attracted to you at all.
It’s reminding myself every minute that my worth as a human being was the same when I was 54 pounds heavier than I am now, and it will still be the same if I lose even more weight.
It’s waking up every day and trying to find the courage to walk another day as a fat girl in a skinny world.
Some days, I have that courage.
Some days, I don’t.
I know that today, I’m going to fight the urge not to eat, and I’m going to get on that stage tonight and fight the urge to hide, and I’m going to keep on keeping on, because this is the only body I have, and it’s the only choice I know to make.