I have been on an ADHD medicine for about three months now, and one of the side effects is decreased appetite. Funny how amphetamines do that to you. Even though people have told me that I looked thinner, I was not sure about it until I tried on a pair of jeans that had not fit in two years, and they fit beautifully. I should be happy, right?
The last time I was at a doctor, I weighed 250. The weight of a football player. Generally when I tell people this, they rush to tell me how I do not LOOK like I weight 250, which only shows me that their friends lie about their weight. I KNOW what women weigh, because I have been all of those weights in my life. I never play the “Guess My Weight” game with women, because I am generally pretty damn close, and it pisses them off. In real life, most women weight over 150.
I started my life as a small baby. I was so small that my mother claimed she was actually frightened of me; afraid of me being so delicate. I stayed petite and pretty all through my toddlerhood, and was also incredibly gorgeous, if I do say so myself :)
I am not sure at what point the warnings about getting fat began. but I do know that my father struggled with his own weight for his entire life. His father was big, his mother was big, and his brother was big, so thin was not something that came naturally. I remember seeing my father at all weights throughout his life, and much like my obese grandmother, he was most thin and gaunt immediately prior to death.
My sister and I were constantly reminded to watch our weight, and I know now that it came from my father’s own struggle as a fat man. As a parent myself, I can see what the intentions were, but the hyper focus on weight to an already small child was not healthy. My father and step-mother were both terrified of obesity, and worked hard to provide my sister and I with healthy food choices at all times. However, rigid food rules in a home ruled by an anxious self-loathing alcoholic do not lead to healthy body image. In fact, it led to one child drinking maple syrup from the bottle to get SOMETHING sweet, and another child developing bulimia.
When I look at pictures of myself as a child, I try to find the moment where weight actually became an issue for me. It was certainly not here:
Or here, at his wedding to my step-mother:
But then, around the age of ten, the chubbiness begins:
Sadly, at just the time I was starting to gain weight, my sister was beginning to lose it due to the wonders of purging. Looking back though, I can see that although I was chubby, it was the normal chubbiness of kids right before puberty. Most kids bulk up immediately prior to growing several inches, and the weight gain was in no way abnormal or cause for alarm.
However, I can only imagine the terror my father felt at seeing his daughter embark on a struggle he had faced his entire life.
By high school, I was not just chubby, but officially fat. However, perhaps in opposition to expected standards, I did not hide away in my room (unless I was binging on sugar). I was fairly popular, most people liked me, and I even had boyfriends, one of whom was charmed enough to eventually marry me.
At one point in high school, I began smoking, quit eating sugar, and existed on no breakfast, Diet Coke and crackers for lunch, and supper with my family. The result was this, the only time past childhood I can legitimately call myself thin. And I was still 160 pounds, and a size 12.
After high school, I was mostly in the chubby zone. My first serious boyfriend/sexual partner liked me the way I looked, but I also remember feeling horribly upset when I found “chubby porn” in his room. Not because it was porn, but because he clearly thought these women looked like me, and therefore that I was chubby.
I remember once in college being on a date with a man, and telling him how I had been much fatter in high school. He told me that yes, yes, I was very beautiful, but that I could be even MORE beautiful if I just lost another 30 pounds. At that point, I instantly lost 200 pounds of Russian asshole.
After college, with less activity and more food, my weight crept above the 200 pound mark. When I quit smoking, it went even higher. However, despite this, I never really suffered from the slings and arrows some fat women have faced. I was never mocked, I was never publicly ridiculed, and the only thing my weight really affected was my chance at hang gliding inI the Outer Banks. When I told the sales person how much I weighed (apparently important for safety concerns), he paused and said “We’re going to need a lot of wind.” Needless to say, I did not go hang gliding.
When I got married I was fat. When I got pregnant I was fat. I have been fat for so long, I can’t even imagine being thin. Being fat is wrapped into my identity so tightly that being thin or struggling to lose weight feels not only false, but like I am selling out my fat sisters.
Interestingly, despite having been told my entire life that I was fat, I have also received messages of being pretty from my mother. My mother was not happy that I was fat, and she certainly was not happy when I ate all of her food during binges in high school, but she also pushed the idea into my brain that I was beautiful.
I can look at pictures of myself, know objectively that I am indeed fat, and somehow separate that from also appreciating my beauty.
We all have a picture of what we think we look like in our heads, and I recently took a self portrait that matches my self image:
However, it still cracks me up that in so many pictures, I do indeed remain, the fat one in the middle :)
So, if this medication continues to work its magic, and I indeed lose more weight, what becomes of this identity I have had for 35 years? It took years of “programming” for me to first believe I was fat, then become fat, and finally accept and embrace being fat. As I get older, and the realities of both gravity, genetics, and lack of exercise take their toll on my body, the weight is becoming a physical burden in ways it has never been mentally.
But if I am not “The Fat One in the Middle”, then what? The average bitch on the side?
PS – I have just noticed that while being in the middle gives the appearance of “hiding” it can also be interpreted as trying to be the center of attention.
PPS – I am raising my own sons with an entirely different relationship to food. No food is off limits, they are free to refuse food if they do not like it, and I am teaching them to trust their own taste and hunger. This leads to one child eating mustard and white bread sandwiches with alarming frequency.