Marie Claire published an article with the title “What I Miss about Being Fat” back in June. I was reminded of it when I revisited Andie Mitchell’s post “What I Miss from 135lbs Ago” while I was working on articles for Frank. I relate to little of what these women share in their stories, but those titles resonates with me. There are definitely things that I miss about being fat.
A friend of mine, Heather, and I talked about this last weekend. She and I are in different places in our weight loss journey, still we share our “Thick Girl Pride” (as she calls it). Instead of feeling like our weight has held us back or relegated us to being wallflowers, we feel it’s helped us to come out of our shells and develop a great sense of humor. It’s helped us to be more confident and proud of who we are, instead of simply how we look (not that we both don’t like looking good). Though we can tell you all the things that suck about being heavy, we can also tell you all the reasons it’s been a comfort for us. I had a feeling she might be able to understand me when I said I missed being fat sometimes.
I don’t always miss it. There are just days when I do. What I miss is not my old clothes (though I had some cute ones) or how I ate but the sense of control I felt I had over who notices me and when. Someone else might think this is because I’m mousy, because I like being invisible. That isn’t the case at all. There are times when I love being the center of attention. I simply want attention on my terms, in my timing, from whom I choose.
I’ve been like this since I was a child. Recently, my mom said, “I remember, when you were a little girl, you used to get so angry when you found out people knew your name who you didn’t want to.” Basically, I’m the craziest kind of control freak.
Both a perk and a disadvantage to being heavy is that average people seem to have an automatic setting that makes you practically invisible until you speak. (You think I’m wrong? Gain 40-50lbs and you’ll probably notice it, especially if you are a woman). Certainly there were times when this was frustrating and painful for me. Overall, I kind of liked it. Even wearing my scarlet coat in college, I didn’t feel I ever gained the undesired attention of a stranger. Now I don’t have this control.
I have mixed emotions about this change. Most days, I can’t complain. Not only are people more aware of me, generally they’re more friendly (at the very least, they’re less prejudiced). But there are times when I wish I had an enchantment like the woman’s in “Shallow Hal” except the reverse.
One instance this summer especially illustrates this. It was a special occasion that I wanted to be stunning for. I wore a cute A-line denim dress that highlighted my narrow waist, with lovely red detailing. My hair was perfectly big and curly. I wore scarlet lipstick to match my dress and had subtly smoky eyes…Truly, I’ve never put so much effort into looking beautiful. Of course, it was all for one person. And that person alone.
That evening, as I walked to meet him, a worker paused on his way through a door to stare at me for at least a solid minute. I had to walk through a lobby full of men, whose eyes I felt and saw on me. My mind told me to be complimented. “You wanted to be stunning, Lindsey. Looks like you achieved it.” But I felt my chest constricting. I badly wished that I could press a fat button that would make me look like my old self to those men.
To say that I felt objectified or threatened wouldn’t be accurate. Internally, I was saying to these men “This isn’t for you! Look away!” If they posed a threat, it was only to my need for control.
The reason I have this insane desire to determine when and how and who sees me is because I want to be the director in the film of my life. I want to orchestra every scene so that I never have to put up with any uncalculated risks or uninvited awkwardness or uninitiated interaction. So that my life can be a perfect piece of art.
In the film of my life that I was shooting, only one person would have seen my beauty that night.
What I have to admit is that the problem with that old control was that I never had a skinny button. I could keep any one I liked from seeing my physical beauty, but I couldn’t fully reveal it to those I wanted to. I could never have looked so stunning for a man I desired to be gorgeous for. Often, I even discovered that I gained more notice than I planned for.
Though sometimes I still miss that false sense of control, I’m coming to accept that I can’t be such a control freak. I can’t resent the compliment of a glance. I can’t keep trying to hide from all but the eyes of those I choose. I have to assent to the reality that I am an actor in my life, not the director.