Weighty Opinions

I’ve been fat for thirty years. And I’m tired of talking about it. I’m tired of other people talking about it. I’m tired of being asked about it, and I’m tired of answering. I’m tired of feeling like it’s the only thing about me that people are ever going to see, that even my own mother is ever going to see. You know what’s so great about Harry Potter? His invisibility cloak. He gets to decide when you’re going to see him, and when you’re not. That’s a power I need. Because there’d be a whole bunch of people who’d never see me again.

It’s a hard, and sometimes debilitating thing to have people you love be cruel to you in the name of love. Everyone is so concerned, so fucking concerned. They’re scared when I’m out of breath, afraid for my life when I stop to rest. I’ve endured four of the hardest years of my entire life — no one was afraid for me then. There were days I couldn’t get out of bed — not because I was too fat, but because I was too sad. No one was afraid for me then. I contemplated taking enough pills to lull me into the most complete and permanent of sleep, because I didn’t see an end to my pain. To my exhaustion. I had an entire three years of everything I tried going wrong and all anyone could say was, “you’ll get through it.” “You’ll be fine.” “You always find a way.” There was no fear there. But my fat body is the boogeyman. It’s the thing that goes bump in the night. It’s the big bad. Everyone is afraid of that.

No one who confronts you about losing weight for your health actually gives a damn about your health. My mother doesn’t ask me about PCOS. She doesn’t ask me how it feels to never have had a relationship where my love was reciprocated. She never asks how it’s changed me to know that even if I’d had such a relationship I spent a big chunk of my childbearing years infertile because of undiagnosed PCOS. No one ever asks. My aunt who sent me an inspiring article about a mother of four who turned her entire life around after she lost sixty pounds doesn’t ask me about insulin resistance. She doesn’t ask me how it feels to push myself to lose weight knowing that my body is sometimes actively working against me. No one ever asks. I probably have the most normal A1C in my family, but they see my fat body and think I must have diabetes too. No one ever asks about my A1C. They just assume I’m on the edge of diabetes and tell me to change my diet. My mother wrote to me, “I’d really like you to try and lose weight,” without even asking me if I’m ALREADY TRYING. No one cares about my health. Not really.

I’ve gained weight. But in this Covid world of staying home and not working and only the essentials being open, I don’t know one person who hasn’t. But I didn’t want to gain weight, and I didn’t plan for it. I know it, and I feel it, I DO CARE. Trust me, no one cares more. And it’s really a form of cruelty to go out of your way to point it out as though I magically forget every night. As though I’m not walking around in this body everyday. As though I don’t look in the mirror. And even still, it’s intrusive. My body is my private business. Assuming it’s for public consumption just because you can see it is a form of cruelty too. I am the person in this body. A PERSON in this body. I’m more than what you see on the outside, and since I am the person in here, there’s nothing about it you can tell me that I don’t know. And no matter how you feel about my body, it’s keeping me alive. I’m going to give it grace, and love because IT’S KEEPING ME ALIVE. We could all give ourselves, and each other, a little more grace.

I wish I had Harry’s invisibility cloak. Not because I’m ashamed to be fat. But because I’m starting to think my voice is louder when you can’t see my body. I don’t want to hide my fat from myself. I don’t want to hide it from the mirror. I just want to hide it from the people who can’t see anything else.

Writer. Fat Girl. Whiskey Lover. Hip-Hop Head. Creator. Magical Being.

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Shameka Erby

Writer. Fat Girl. Whiskey Lover. Hip-Hop Head. Creator. Magical Being.