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Below Average

I acknowledged a few days ago that I’ve been clinging to a diet mentality – not a good place if I want lasting change. But it forced me to ask, “What’s in it for me?”

That phrase sounds so selfish when taken out of context, but if I ask it in response to a negative behavior, I hope it can be illuminating.

When I was fat… I don’t like to use that phrase. I tell myself it is such a negatively charged term. However, as I sit and write, I wonder if I feel this way about that word because I really still see myself as fat.

I’m still kind of waiting for that guy from college to come out of hiding and shout “fat” obscenities at me as if I needed a reminder that everyone else was a little better than me because they were prettier, trimmer and had nicer hair.

It was a day that I recall easily, interesting too since I wasn’t nearly as fat at that point in my life as what I became.

I was working on a group sociology project with this jerk, who was the quintessential good looking jock. He was accustomed to flirting his way through much of life. He received a crappy grade on the project and the course because he wasn’t pulling his load. Since sociology was his major, let’s just say he wasn’t super pleased by the group’s evaluation of his participation.

We were having a charged conversation, and he got frustrated that his charm was going nowhere. As I left with nothing resolved to his liking, he yelled, “Fat c _ _ t.” The only thing that kept me going at the time was the irony that the class involved the social inequities that American subcultures experienced in the last part of the 20th century as it related to men. That still makes me chuckle, after of course I get a Tums because it still makes me nauseous to think of that moment and how humiliated I felt.

I’ve always struggled with body image issues, but there was something about that moment that lodged in my soul. I couldn’t even remember the jerk’s name until I recounted the memory and then it popped into my head as if it happened last week. I wonder what he is like today.

Is he still as degrading to woman? Does he shirk from responsibility? I’m not the same girl I was then so can I hope that he also grew up?

What he said and how he made me feel with just two words was foul. Words are powerful, and from time to time they haunt us all.

I may not attach the expletive to the label, but do I still believe that fat fits?

Is that the real reason I avoid saying, “When I was fat…” because I’m afraid someone a little more sensitive than this football player may come up and whisper in my ear, “Melissa, I hate to break it to you, but…”

How would I describe myself as it relates to weight? Perhaps this is the one time in my life that below average is a good thing.

How can I stop the yo-yo, albeit a small one, if I don’t have a realistic mental image of myself? Are there people out there who maintain a healthy and accurate body image? What do you think? Please consider sharing your thoughts here…I would love to get a conversation going on this topic.

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