It seems like “fat” has always been an issue in my life.
I always thought my mother was fat. She was very short, and often pregnant, but for much of my childhood – according to photographs – she was not fat. Plump, maybe. By the time I was graduating high school, Mom was carrying too much extra weight. She had given birth to eleven children, had lost two babies, was nearing middle-age and was possibly depressed. By the time I turned thirty, she was over it. Mom had gotten a job, taken several courses to become a certified dietitian, and had learned to drive. She embarked on a diet she found in the Lady’s Home Journal and was down to a size eight within a year.
I always think of my father as skinny. He was tall and skinny for much of my childhood, all sharp angles and jutting bones. Dad loved to eat, though. And drink. Between Thanksgiving and the New Year, he always overindulged. He’d pat his belly and comment that if he wasn’t careful, he’d be looking like Uncle Henry. He never really believed it, though. Then, one holiday season – when he was a little older – Dad ate and drank too much, as usual. He packed on the extra weight, as usual. Unlike previous years, it never went away. He hated having that paunch, and mentioned it frequently, but hated changing his diet, even when his doctors demanded it.
Though we were a herd of scrawny children, we would poke and pinch ourselves and each other, exclaiming over any extra flesh at belly, bottom or thigh. Brenda, who was perfectly proportioned, always thought of herself as fat. I bemoaned my fat belly right along with my flat chest and skinny legs. Sheila was going to be shapely, we said. Nita, too. Cheryl, tall and skinny, would look like a model, and Robin had potential to take after her. Amy, the baby, was perfect in her chubby cuteness.
As an adult, there has hardly been a time that I haven’t been dissatisfied with my shape. Fat thighs…fat belly…fat feet! After my first daughter was born, I tipped the scales at one hundred pounds. At the baby’s six-week check-up, I asked the doctor for advice on losing the “baby weight.” I wonder if he grinned to himself as he suggested I eat more vegetables and do one hundred sit-ups a day. Looking back from this perspective, I should have been much more appreciative of what I had. Now, most of that is actually hidden under a layer of fat! No matter how determined (and disgusted) I am, I know that holiday time is not a good time to start a diet. The New Year is on its way, though…I’m making plans to start something new soon!