A young woman’s recollection of learning to accept her body
I come back from the Chinese Buffet, my family’s Sunday tradition, with my fifth plate of fried chicken. I can feel my uncles, my aunts, my grandparents, and my parents staring at me as if I just devoured a whole horse. “Does she really need to eat that much”, “Look at her… she looks like a water elephant.” I try to ignore them and take a bite of that crispy, salty, fried chicken goodness, the crunching and taste blocking my ears from the negativity of my family.
Later before I take a shower I look at my little belly that protrudes out like an inflated balloon. I hate how my body looks. I still have the grease of the chicken on my lips. I am so disgusting.
I try to quit pop, but the 25 cent machines at work tempt me, and I crack open a cold grape soda three days after my vow to quit. I try to exercise, but the feeling of sweat dripping down my face is utterly disgusting and I decide exercise is not for me. I try to eat healthy, but the cravings are intense and I decide my life is incomplete without the taste of Oreos, chocolate ice cream, ribs, fried chicken, and coke. I decide to lose weight once I’m unable to see my feet.
I step into the kitchen; my mom gives me a lecture about being fat and forces me to weigh myself. I go to family gatherings and hear the word “water elephant,” snickering, words of shame and disapproval, and the slight shake of their heads. I look in the mirror and the cycle starts again.
In a world where we are constantly judged, how do we love ourselves? I think about this a lot. Over the years, I’ve learned to simply not care. How do you not care? For that question I have no answer, it’s just something you do.
I still hate my body, that will never change. However, I’ve learned to accept and appreciate it more. Although my family fat shames me every time I pick up food that is more than 100 calories, when I walk a little slower than others, or just simply existing, I’ve learned to stop listening. During holidays when I visit them, from head to toe, I’m decked out in all black, camouflaging the chub rolls in my body with baggy shirts and well-thought-out jackets.
“Maria you’ve lost so much weight, starving in college really suits you.”
I smile as I eat that same fried chicken, bite after bite, as the undermining compliments keep on rolling in. As a young woman, whether it’d be from my family, society, or myself – I will always be fat shamed. As I plunge my fork into a massive piece of cake, I’ve learned to accept that I will always be fat, dumb, and happy. For once, I’m okay with that.
Feature photo by Mansoor Ahmad | MSU Reporter.