Recently, I had to borrow a dress to go on a blind date because none of my hundreds of pounds fancy dresses fit me anymore. Ever since I eradicated the little nuisances it seems like my polythene stomach wall lining has been decimated, and every carb I consume is totally absorbed. The dress owner went on a drinking spree in celebration to the fact that I now wear the same dress size as her, mind you her derrière deserves a postcode all on its own – stick a pin on it and it will be next week before she realises. Unfortunately, the weight is yet to spread evenly so my bottom half hasn’t quite qualified as wifey material according to the gospel of some African brothers who think it’s impossible for thin women to give birth naturally.
A few years ago, when I was desperate to add weight (more so to please some relatives), I decided to start a group – weight gainers anonymous – it was not very popular because some of my fat friends thought it was in bad taste and that I should appreciate, and be grateful for having the gift of can’t-gain-weight-even-if-I-ate-JuanPedroFranco. So, the group dispersed before it was immortalised on the web via WhatsApp, and my thinples had to struggle individually to gain weight. I am now heavier than I’ve ever been, even when I was nine months pregnant and I’m worried, however, some of my relatives can now rest easy and be happy. And I can now shop in the adults’ section or enter plus size shops without feeling guilty and out of sorts. Thinner me would walk in and head straight to the handbag section to avoid condescending looks and superior attitude from people bigger than me.
As my outfits threaten to burst at the seams, revealing curves and folds I never knew existed, I know I must learn to contend with unwanted attention – thus: I know I would receive unwanted compliments from brethren who believe fat equals happiness and wellbeing. I must contend with jeers and funny looks from people who don’t think fat equals happiness and wellbeing. I must contend with unsolicited advice on how to shift unwanted extra holiday weight. I have to grit teeth through painful interrogations and horrendous questions:
“My goodness, what happened to you. You used to be so pretty!” they say with head cocked to the side.
“Did you eat Kenya on your last safari?” they laugh out louder than necessary.
“OMG! you are pregnant!” they exclaim as they feign nil surprise.
I, on the other hand, have to [have to] fight the urge to use my licensed Smith &Wesson and retort “Nothing happened damn ass, but something will happen to you if you don’t shut your pie ho…” I’m learning to breath through my nose when word vomiting in anger. Self-soothing also works great when you’ve explained once too many times.
My biggest worry is the feeling like this body belongs to someone else, it’s like not mine but someone’s else taking [temporary] refuge for whatever reason. It’s functional though, in winter I don’t get as cold – I have layers of fat now and can contain my body heat without donning countless thermo vests and leggings. At my thinnest I wore 3 pairs of thermos bottoms and a tract suit before wearing my size 10 jeans – if I wore that now I would have to wear a size 32 jeans and wobble down the street and most likely not fit in the turnstiles at my tube station. Oh my goodness I would have to take the bus, I imagine the driver lowering the disabled access and moving his head sideways as he looks at me with contempt.
Now having been a thin woman and living with the insecurities that come with that, I’ve learnt a few truths. Some fat people might not believe there are problems with being thin – there are. Some people will keep the rumour mill churning unbelievable tales of sickness, witchcraft, mental illness, generational curses, unfulfillment, unhappiness and lack. You become the butt of endless unfunny jokes about stones being donated to you before the windy season, you know…. to keep in the handbag so you don’t get blown away. At the dance floor, ‘shake tharass!’ is meaningful and people won’t fight the urge to say ‘rattle them bones’. I haven’t lived in the fat body for long, so I have limited experience of its insecurities – I hail from a community where fatness is a virtue and I live in a community where fatness is a vice – I have to make my own conclusions from experiences from both sides and weigh in any differences – I will tell you later if I keep this going. And time will tell unless some jealous soul buys me gym membership for life as a Christmas present. The message will be loud and clear and would only reinforce any insecurities I have about being overweight – real and/or imagined.
There’s a Swahili saying – binadamu hatosheki (humans are never content): some thin people wish they had more meat on, and some fat people wish they had less and when tables are turned they are still unhappy with the results: it’s like human nature to find fault with whatever one was dealt. Rarely do people rejoice when their prayers have been answered. I’m certainly not rejoicing because I had not counted on getting a whole new wardrobe; I had bought a few expensive ensembles that are apparently timeless but only if your body doesn’t change either. These ensembles are unalterable, and I can’t face giving them away or even selling them – sadly I had named them. I’m also too cautious and judgemental for my own good – I find myself constantly searching for my body in those headless shots done by the media when there’s a news bulletin on dangers of swelled midriff, obesity, diet and too much sugar. I might join the sue-their-asses bandwagon if I see a headless me as poster body for dangers of being overweight.
For years I envied curvier women; I prayed and hoped for a ‘bit-more-meat’ but I may have forgotten to be specific and say exactly where I want the extra pounds deposited. My great auntie taught me a very valuable lesson – when you pray be specific and tell, [not ask], God exactly what, where, who, how and when you need something. Now as I face an ever-bulging midriff and a BMI on the extreme end bordering on obese, I’m mindful of dysmorphic people around the world. I wasn’t this fat when I was nine months pregnant but then again, I was young, and you know what they say about mid-life and all that crap…
Some random thought…. when men cheat it’s below the belt and when women cheat is above the neck! Hmm topic for another time?