illustration by Jennifer Kalis
Please tell me the headline isn’t “A Weighty Issue” or “Mani-fatso.” As a plus-size woman, I’m tired of being a punch line. I’ve poked fun at my weight—heck, I even based a stand-up act around it. Laugh with me, not at me.
Fat is one of the worst things you can be. “My daughter was so fat when she was a toddler,” I once overheard a mother admit a little too loudly over brunch at Nudy’s. “I thought, ‘Please don’t let her be fat when she gets older.’”
She spit out “fat” with disgust. I turned to my friend and made a face. She knew what it meant. “It’s one of the last acceptable stereotypes,” I said.
It’s also fair game for scrutiny and not-so-subtle self-improvement tips—like the one I received from a distant acquaintance on Facebook: “Hey, Katie. I just did this great weight-loss program, and I think it would be great for you. Summer is coming! I can help set you up. Byeeeee.”
My reaction was immediate and profound—similar to the one I had when a grade-school bully once poked me with a ruler and said, “Move along, Bessie.”
A deep breath brought me back. I blinked away the tears welling in my eyes. I highlighted my response, before finally deleting it:
Why don’t you get a thesaurus or read a book so you don’t use the word “great” twice in the same sentence? Do you have the results of my most recent blood work and, if so, are you a qualified medical professional? I wouldn’t buy anything from someone who uses, “Byeeeee.” Maybe a Girl Scout, but I won’t go there.
The tears were gone, replaced by a small smile. Saved by humor again.
What she doesn’t have the gumption to say is more along the lines of: “Wouldn’t your life be easier if you were thin?”
In the end, it ranks right up there with, “But you have such a pretty face,” and, “No man wants a fat girl.”
If only I could get up off the couch to walk to the secret drawer and sprinkle some magic dust. But my situation is different, due to polycystic ovary syndrome.
“I know someone who has that, and she’s skinny. Have you tried …”
I don’t need you to fix me because I’m fat. If you knew me, you’d know what I do every day to manage the symptoms of this disease. If you took the time to get to know someone, rather than judging them based on how they look, you may meet a person who’s different from your preconceived notions.
Then, perhaps, you’d come to realize that there’s something much worse than being fat.
King of Prussia’s Katie Bambi-Kohler writes regularly about plus-size issues on her website at www.katiekohler.com.