I see you as you stand awkwardly with your hands crossed over your stomach, trying to be the least visible in the crowd, tug-tugging at your hair.
I see you perching on the edge of that wooden chair, your thighs cramping as you try to keep the most of your weight off the chair, sipping on a glass of still while all your friends are digging away at lunches and lounging back into their seats.
I walk behind you as its time to buy new clothes – how have those old ones become so snug so quickly? – you pass all the brand names, all the cool clothes your peers are flaunting. You go straight to the aisle where you know you will find comfort, if not style and beauty. In the dressing room I stand on tippy toe to peep over the edge of the door, I see you get undressed with your eyes down, sometimes even closed, the mirror is not your friend today. You hold up the garment, silently willing it to make you feel or look better, pull it on and then stop halfway as it catches halfway up your thighs. You kick it off, eyes still down. Maybe you will leave with one item, perhaps you are just a bit bloated today. Most of the times though you will leave empty handed, frustrated that you even made the trip. The sales lady asks if she can get you another size, No, it fits perfectly you say, its just not my style after all.
I came over to visit in the summer and I watched while you sat on the edge of the pool with only your feet in the water, donning shorts and an oversized T-shirt. I get cold so easily you say, Ill rather watch you guys play in the water. I sit down next to you and I see you lifting the water up over your legs with your hands. You get up and wrap a towel around your lower half.
Today we met up with some old school friends, they were so nice and fit and you laughed along heartily as some every day fat jokes were passed around. One of the girls spoke of another friend of hers that lost so much weight, looked at you and said, she’s done so well, and she was TWICE your size. Wow, you say, that’s amazing for her. Afterwards I hear you cry in the bathroom as I stand with my hands on the outside of the door and my ear pressed to it, as if trying to absorb all your sadness and self- loathing by merely willing it so.
Dear fat girl, I see you’ve been more active lately, you try and stop when you’re full, not when you feel less sad. You accept the compliments that come your way more readily and smile when people say you are so beautiful now. You dare to laugh just a little bit louder in conversation. I am so happy for you. I thought it would be alright for me to leave you on your own, so I left.
I came to check up on you today. You look truly amazing. I smiled to myself and turned to leave again. Halfway down the stairs I stopped. I listened. From your room I could hear your faint sobs. I quickly ran up the stairs and opened your door. You were just sitting there, alone on your floor, weeping into your hands. I could see the blisters on your heels from your jog this morning. I kneeled beside you, put my arms around your shoulders and wept with you. I held onto you and promised I would never leave you again. You, that is me, as much as I am you.
Inge Muller is a mom and salon manager, enthusiastic about health, fitness, and writing.