As I stood in the shower staring at my purpled right foot through the bruised and blistered fingers on my hands I thought of only one thing: This is compensation.
My most painful memories, the most shame inducing or embarrassing, revolve around food.
From very early on in my childhood, before I had a sense of self or, rather, self-image, I understood that I was the least liked, because I was the least attractive.
I don't know if this is a good or bad thing.
It's bad for obvious reasons: I've never ever felt attractive. It doesn't matter who or how often a person might tell me I look good; they're just being nice. My wedding reception is a mostly forgotten drunken blur as it's easier to not care about being judged as a fat chick in white when you're loaded. If anything I feel bad for the people that spend their time being polite and saying positive things about how I look physically, because lying is not only bad, it's a waste of time.
I am well aware of my physical appearance. It was drilled into me from a very young age and, like first learning language, it will stay with me always.
In other unseen ways this conditioning is, in fact, a positive. I learned by middle school that I was rejected on an appearance basis by those closest to me, so I had no hope for being attractive in school. This led me to not care, I couldn't care less at all and did exactly what I wanted to do. Because I did what I wanted to do I developed a certain air of confidence. It's almost easy to like yourself if you take the "appearance" aspect out of self. But most importantly I was nice. I knew I didn't have a prayer in the world for being accepted in the way most desired, but that didn't mean that I had to make others feel bad.
Because of this I gained friends in all walks of life, even in different schools, and I was relatively popular, and not because I was a hot cheerleader.
Also, if I were attractive I would be in extra deep debt for all the clothes I would buy. I love fashion and I have very detailed ideas of what I would wear if I looked good. Not looking good saves me from those expenditures.
Does being fat mean I can't be fashionable? No, of course not. But it does seriously limit what I can and cannot, or should not, wear.
I tend to be a “fun” person, an out-going person. I like to play. I am unabashedly a nerd. The hottest man in Hollywood would always take a backseat in my mind to anything Star Wars or Star Trek oriented. I like the music I like because I heard it and enjoyed it, not because of peer pressure.
Yet as I get closer to the idea of eventually having children myself I have started to scrutinize myself. Which brought me to the bruises in the shower.
About 10 days ago I had fractured a few toes on my right foot, but I never took time off from work to let me heal. And yesterday I played Ultimate Frisbee for two hours. What I lack in looks I have always subconsciously made up for in personality content and have, in essence, created this over-social-achieving monster. At least that’s how I felt last night.
When I was in middle school I was knocked off the bleachers during gym class, breaking my fibula. I limped through the rest of the day, got on the bus for a 45 minute ride home through rural Connecticut, and called my mother once in the house to ask her to please come home, as I believed correctly to have broken my leg. The middle finger on my right hand is twisted, disjointed, and malformed because I fell on it while waiting to meet a guy for a date. I suffered through that evening as delightfully as I could muster, which had to be fairly good, because we wound up back at his place. On his couch I as cutely and seductively as possible asked if he happened to have a bag of frozen peas for swelling. That was at least seven years ago. I wonder now if my toes will “heal” just as awkwardly as my finger. The bruises on my hands and knuckles were also from playing rough, but as dictated to me as a fat child, I was not, am not delicate; my looks irked no sympathetic responses from adults, and like a young boy on a playground I was told to simply “walk it off”, which is what I still do today.
So, when I looked at my bruises, my finger, my foot, thought of my leg, it occurred to me that I was compensating for chubbiness in a way that never transpired to me before.
I hate damsels, that’s not going to change.
I’ll still continue to play rough. I was always a very physically active girl throughout high school; a lack of calisthenics has never been the cause of my weighty problem.
What I will do, however, is maybe go a bit easier on myself when I do wind up injured.
I will continue to hope that if I do have a child, it is a boy.
But I will promise that if I do have a girl, I will love her unconditionally, and always think she beautiful.
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