Stop Eating, Fatty

You know how sometimes you get hungry, and you eat something? Well, after an eight hour work day and a three hour class with no dinner break, I was starving. So I walked over to the local burger joint and hooked myself up with a small paper tray of delicious beer battered onion rings and a juicy cheeseburger. Yeah, not exactly ‘diet’ food, but it’s real life, and real life can’t always be diet-friendly. As I walked with my friend Virginia back to the bar where we were meeting my friends, I ripped an onion ring out of the bag and animatedly began to eat it, because I’m a silly person, and that’s what silly people do. I believe I was eating it in a Cookie Monster type of fashion, while saying “NOM NOM NOM!”. Yup. That’s me. As I ate this onion ring, a truck drove by, rolled down their windows and yelled out “Stop Eating, Fatty!” I froze. Did I really hear what I thought I heard? No. Couldn’t be me. Why would someone say that? As my brain processed the thoughts and I verbalized them to my friend, she insisted that’s not what she heard, but I’m pretty sure I heard what I heard. “Stop Eating, Fatty.”

Lucia with the infamous cheese burger. At least it had a wheat bun!

Let’s let it sit for a minute. Just words. Three words. No big deal. Wrong. Big deal. My strong, barbed wire façade came crashing down, and my formerly invisible shield of armor had a serious dent in it. I’m a pretty confident overweight person, and I carry my weight well, so I really don’t get insulted a lot by people based on my looks – at least not to my face. This hurt. It stung. So I have this to say to the young man that yelled at me from his truck: Screw you.

I hope the fleas of 1,000 camels infest your armpits. I hope the next time you entertain a lover in the bedroom, they point and laugh in shock when you drop your drawers. I hope you one day realize how your heartless, cruel comments carry more weight than just a funny thing to laugh at with your “homies”. I hope you realize that the person on the receiving end of your immaturity has feelings, emotions and real world struggles. Guess what? This fatty didn’t stop eating. She finished the damn onion rings, and the cheeseburger too – because fat people still need to eat. Contrary to popular belief, we can’t just stop eating and hope that the fat melts away like a blubbery iceberg in the summer.

Fat people aren’t emotionless. We’re not giant masses of cellulite so preoccupied with our next meal that we can’t stop and feel the pain of an insult. My fat doesn’t protect me like a shield from idiots with open windows who decide it’s fun to yell at random pedestrians. I hope you know that behind this fat body is a tender, beating heart; as alive and vulnerable as the tiny one of yours that cowers inside your illusion of coolness. It’s not “cool” to make fun of people. It’s not funny. It’s not brave. It’s appalling, and I sincerely hope Karma meets you quickly for a follow-up to this encounter. You should know I finished my onion rings, and while you hurt my feelings, I won’t shed a single tear for you or toss and turn at night. And I will absolutely not stop eating – because this fatty doesn’t take orders from anybody.

At least I’m not fat

I wasn’t always overweight – I arrived into this world at an average 7 pounds, 4 ounces or something like that. Through out my childhood I sported plump, apple cheeks, but didn’t tilt the scales until about the age of 10, around when my family moved to California. I remember wearing the girl’s size XL, and an unpleasant discussion at the doctor’s office about being overweight. “She needs to exercise,” the doctor had said, noting my ever-climbing weight. My mom replied, no doubt in protection, “She doesn’t love sports, but she does love to read.” I’ll never forget the doctor’s reply – “Reading is great exercise for the brain – but not the body!”

Age four - no chub yet!

As puberty crept up on me, my weight blossomed even more, morphing into fleshy hips and a soft, pudgy tummy. I was outgrowing the junior’s size 12s, having to squeeze my curvy waist into cheap L.E.I. jeans in women’s size 13s from Mervyns. My first devastating insult about my weight came from a boy I had a huge crush on, Patrick. We were friends and classmates and walked home from school together, crunching leaves and sucking the sap out of honeysuckles. He called me “Hey Arnold” after the cartoon, because we both had blonde hair. He was really tall and gangly, with small, narrow eyes and a deep, nerdy voice. In gym class one day we had to run a mile. As a fumbling klutz, running was something I despised, a special torture for a chubby girl with a propensity for words. I can even remember my outfit that day  -a purple Guess shirt and white cotton shorts.  As we lapped the dirt track together, he taunted me that he would win.  Adrenaline and ambition kicked in, and by some miracle, I propelled myself past him through the finish line, the victorious winner by a few seconds. As I applauded my own girls-against -boy victory, he hit me where he knew it would hurt – my emotions.

“Well – at least I’m not FAT!” he spat out, the friendly look in his eye replaced with macho venom.

Had I been the spunky girl I would have liked to imagine myself as, I would have replied, “Well – at least I’m not an ASSHOLE!” but instead, I slunk off like a guilty dog, reminded that once again, it didn’t matter what girls accomplished, but rather, what they looked like. I never wore those white shorts to school again. (He’s dead now, how’s that for Karma? I kid, I kid. Sadly, he is deceased of a drug overdose, which is a shame because despite this little sting, he was a nice, intelligent kid)

It’s so easy to remember the insults and the bad things that happen to you, even when you hear a lot of praise otherwise. I’d like to say comments like these didn’t affect me, but I guess they did if I’m blogging about them 14 years later – but hey, it fueled a blog post, so I guess that’s something.

Do you remember insults about your looks from days past? One of the worst I’ve ever heard is a guy who called my sister “Princess Fat Arms”. WTF! People can be so cruel.