Maybe I Really Am Just A Girl

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As a young woman, it feels like I spend most of my time trying to prove myself. Professionally, socially and intellectually. There will always be the snigger at my frequent use of the word “like”, or jabs at my giggly personality.

No-one ever bought it; me being smart. The saddest part is that even I didn’t. I could bore you to tears with tales of being patronized and belittled by authority figures since childhood, but I would be here all day.

It’s a Friday morning. I’m very proud of myself because for the first time in possible six months, I have risen from my slumber in good time before work. I go to the bathroom, set my phone face down on the window sill, and play aloud the American tones of one of my favourite YouTube vloggers.

I look in the mirror, and feel embarrassment at what I see. It suddenly dawns on me how damaged and worn I look. The skin beneath one of my eyes appears to be sun bleached white. The patch beneath the opposite eye is dark and speckled. Blackheads cover my bulbous nose, and my chin and forehead are dotted with bulging acne. One set of eyelashes are also bleached almost entirely white.

Horrified, it dawns on me that I have been showing up at work looking exactly like this for the past nine months. Waking up with ten minutes to go, throwing on some jeans and runners, and giving a quick brush to my yellow and crooked teeth.

What must people think of me?! And how do I change? I can diet. Try and rid my excess fat to be taken more seriously. But, wait. Maybe then I’ll be just a girl. I cringe at the mere thought. Imagine that… being just a girl! Ditsy, devoid of any personality traits, there merely to be eye candy when the intelligent men get bored from all of their intelligent men things. I shudder at the thought.

I have to pick one… be physically ugly but be quirky and intelligent… or be physically attractive but be boring and superficial. Since I have always fallen into the former by default, I can’t imagine suddenly trying to change to the latter.

Still though, I think, as I stare desperately at the worn and plain woman staring back at me in the mirror, I can’t go on like this.

As my brain tries to think of a solution to this tough call, my hands take action. I grab a tube of beige goo from the window sill, unscrew the cap, and smear it all over my face. Next is sneezy powder, before black paint is applied to my eyelids and lashes. I draw on some new lips with a red crayon. Now, at least I’m slightly more presentable.

I’ve some time to kill before work this morning. For the first time in forever I try to wear something different. Something that takes the attention away from my round belly and thundering thighs. Leggings? A long top?

Work feels different today. I am a walking doll! Maybe this paint and goo works to be taken more seriously, after all. I’m even referred to as a doll. All day, in fact. “All dolled up” was the term used, I believe. Doors are held open for me, and remarks are made about a fictitious “hot date” I will be attending later on tonight.

“Fair play to you!” one smiles. Should I feel proud? Should I feel accomplished that I’ve finally done what I was supposed to do, and apply the goo and paint to be a proper girl?

Another greets me with an arm squeeze, which takes me aback. I don’t know this person very well, and personal contact with people I hardly know feels uncomfortable. I feel this, inside, but the crayon lips force a smile nonetheless.

All my life, I have been taught to ridicule and dislike fellow women. I’ve been taught to see them as inferior intellectually, yet as a threat in terms of male attention. Blonde pretty girls are mean and stupid. Don’t be friends with them. They won’t amount to anything, anyway. Probably just be a trophy wife to some businessman. Isn’t it great to use your body to get places?! At least have some self respect.

Or, do I? Now that I’ve sold myself out to the goo and paint, am I still me? Awkward, loud, opinionated me? She might have smothered, beneath that gunk. I’m too scared to use it again, in case I lose her forever.

 

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My Weight and I

I have struggled with my weight my whole life. Literally, since junior infants I was chubby. I used to get bullied about it back then. As I got older, the bullying changed. It wasn’t direct insults, but it was shown in social exclusion and laughing/talking behind my back.
Santa

See that boy to the right wearing a tye dye tshirt and hideous… whatever those jackets are called?! That’s me, aged eight, perhaps.

A lot of my former friends poked fun at my weight, as I did too; a coping mechanism. Transitioning into teenage-hood I realised that teenage boys in particular liked to tease girls about their weight, especially quiet fat girls; and as I was one, this taunting from young men would continue into my young adulthood (17)…
Sometimes the “hoodies” would shout at me in the streets or call me names based on my weight. I never really got insults from women. I think a lot of young men see bigger women as a threat because they don’t initially feel power over them so they have to prove their superiority by being cruel (I am sure there’s better psychology behind it than that – but a psychologist I am not…)
I’m sure the fact that I am quiet in nature with strangers doesn’t help. I have never once stood up for myself against someone making fun of my weight.
I have online; but that’s different. You can hide behind a picture and feel safe defending yourself.
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Here I am trying to squash my small brother into nothingness it would seem. As you can imagine, I couldn’t get dresses in child sizes…

When I escaped the hell hole that was secondary school and teenage-hood, I thought the bullying would stop. But it didn’t. Even when I went to college other boys my age still poked fun at my weight. It even happens now, although less frequently.
As someone who suffers from depressive episodes, extreme stress and anxiety… I see bullying about my weight as essentially vocalizing my number one insecurity that I have always and will always have (even when I do succeed in losing weight)
my childhood

That’s me on the far left. Note to current day children: don’t tie your cardigan around your waist. It screams clueless pensioner. As does my ill looking face. How could a child who looks like that be anything other than miserable?! (It’s what’s on the inside that counts?!)

My fat child is a part of me and she would be even if I were now skinny. I indirectly learned at a young age that people didn’t like me because I was fat and weird. And so, my size, appearance and social awkwardness manifested into my worst enemies. Which translated into, of course, my worst enemy being myself.
I am not writing this post for sympathy. I am writing it to spread a message. And that is… people are normally fat for a reason.
In fact, of (almost) all of the overweight people I know, all have suffered with low self esteem, have been the victims of bullies, relationship abuse, manipulation, self harm, depression, anxiety…
Many (including myself at times) get extreme anxiety about eating in public (especially junk food) as it feels like everyone’s judging you. Look at their glare and you know what they’re thinking… “Fat bitch”. Then, if you’re on a diet and you’re eating healthy food, they’re thinking… “Who are you trying to kid, love?”
Thankfully, many strangers won’t vocalize their impression of you. But I guarantee you, they will think it. And they may let it known through a glance. How do I know they think it? Because I think it, too. I think it when I see another fat person. I judge them in one swift glance. Even though I am fat, too. We’re programmed to do this.
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We’re programmed to see fatties as lesser than skinnies. We’re programmed to see them as hopeless, lacking ambition, lacking any motivation or self control. We see them as ugly, unattractive, possibly even a danger. We judge them based on what they’re wearing. “She’s too big to be wearing that”…
If you’ve never been fat, it really is hard to understand. But I am writing this post to tell you that being fat isn’t necessarily down to being lazy and stupid. It can often be triggered by anxiety, depression and other mental health issues.
A self harmer might binge eat instead of cut themselves. Does that make them “lazy” and “stupid”?
So I urge you… see fatties as human, not disgusting. I can guarantee you every fatty has a story behind why they got that way.