“You’re fat.” I remember the moment as if it happened yesterday, even though it must have been at least three years ago. A sweet little boy, who was only around three or four years old, broke into a conversation to share that little nugget of knowledge. “What?” I asked, sure I’d misheard him. He giggled. “You’re fat,” he repeated.
I hate thinking of that moment, and the ones that followed. We were having a special Christmas party on a vintage railroad car, which was decorated for the holidays. I remember looking out at the Christmas lights twinkling on passing houses, fighting back tears, and ultimately losing the battle. I remember pretending not to hear the low, angry voice of the boy’s mother, while she lectured her son on why he shouldn’t have said such a thing. I remember trying (and failing) to block out the sounds of the “elves” on the train. That part had nothing to do with embarrassment, and everything to do with being trapped in a rail car with 20 high-pitched voices singing ‘Jingle Bells.’ The sound of those voices will haunt me for the rest of my life.
I look back on that moment and feel nothing but shame that I allowed the tender honesty of a little boy to wound me so. He wasn’t trying to be hurtful; he was just making an observation. And he was right. I was fat. I AM fat.
But I shouldn’t let those words define me. And if those words don’t define who I am, they don’t have such incredible power over me. I am fat, but I am also beautiful. I am funny. I am kind. I am giving. I am loving. I am a faithful wife, an incredible mother, a fiercely protective daughter, and a wonderful friend.
But I don’t want to gloss over the key point here: I am fat. At this point in my life, being overweight has impacted who I am as a person. I am less judgmental of others and their failings because I am fat; I look in the mirror every day and know what it feels like to fail. I am more aware of the pain and suffering of others. I rely not on outer beauty, but on my sense of humor, to connect with people. I find myself going out of my way to make other people feel more at ease, to make them laugh, to make them feel loved and appreciated. I am all of these things because I am fat.
I am fat, and I am a beautiful person.