Monday, May 10, 2010

Blubbity blub Blubber

Despite the obnoxious email from that stupid blue train, I had a nice Mother’s Day. I watched two movies, which is a monumental feat. I still did dishes and laundry, but I don’t know how to relax. What can I say?

Around five p.m., my mother called. She asked the obligatory Mother’s Day questions—“How was your day? Aren’t you glad you shot out a kid?”—then she asked, “How’s my good eater?”

“He’s fine,” I said.

“Junior’s such a chunker lately! He has such a good appetite.”

I found myself bristling, which is never a good thing, especially on a national holiday.

“He’s growing,” I said.

“I know!” she snorted. "He's a little fatty pants."

After we hung up, I poured myself a scotch. I was mad. You see, the paradox of my life is that my family has made me believe I am fat when I’m not, and I don’t want the same fate for Junior.

I know the word fat is relative—a 90-pound model may believe she is “fat”—but I’ve never weighed more than 135 pounds, and I’m 5’5”. (There was the time I weighed 175 pounds but I was nine months pregnant, so that doesn’t count.) In my humble opinion, I don't look obese.

The family-thinks-I’m-fat thing started when I was nine, when my mother had a reception to celebrate her remarriage. While my grandfather was up at the podium he said, “And here’s a toast to my grand-daughter, Blubber.”

He pointed to me. Everyone chuckled. I was mortified. I only weighed 75 pounds, which in hindsight seems reasonable. When I look at old pictures, I certainly don’t seem blubberish. A little chunky in the face maybe, but what pre-pubescent girl doesn’t carry a little baby fat?

My grandfather continued to call me Blubber. (Not wanting to leave out my step-sister, he called her “Flubber”, because she wasn’t very bright. Such affectionate wit!) News of my alleged obesity spread. At my cousin’s fifth grade YMCA pool party, I was on the diving board when my uncle shouted, “Tidal wave!” And once, I backed into my grandmother while tying my shoe and she shouted, “Whose fat ass is that?” I was in eighth grade at that point and, at 5'4", weighed 127 pounds.

There are countless other faticisms sprinkled in there, but I’ll spare you.

My weight stayed pretty consistent until junior year of high school, when I came down with Mono and lost 15 pounds. I was down to a size two. I was euphoric until the weight started to creep back. I ballooned up (hah!) to 125 pounds and was miserable about it. My mother told me not to worry; maybe I’d get a cold or the flu and drop the weight again.

I didn’t, so I dabbled in bulimia.

I wasn’t a very good bulimic. It hurt my throat and I had to throw up outside so my mother wouldn’t hear me. That sucked in the winter. I never lost weight, I just developed a very fucked up attitude towards food, so I stopped after six months (at the time, the movie "Nadia" about gymnast Nadia Comaneci’s eating disorder was a good motivator—love those angst movies).

After college, my weight held steady in the high 120s. At family functions, aunts and uncles would ask, “Did you lose a ton of weight?” My grandmother would comment, “Good, you’re looking nice and trim.” As if I’d battled the bulge all my life. As if I’d been a contestant on the Biggest Loser and had finally gotten my weight under control. All 130 pounds of me.

I'd like to say that adulthood has saved me from obnoxious observations, but just last weekend, my uncle pulled a wooden chair over for me to sit on and said, “Sorry there’s no cushion, but it looks like you’ve got enough of your own.” I literally looked at my ass to see if there was an extra 100 pounds he could see that I couldn’t.

It’s the weirdest fucking thing. After a lifetime of commentary I have to wonder, did I sleep through a period of my life when I weighed 500 pounds and then remarkably lost it? Do I have an obese twin sister whom I never met who and whom I keep missing at family functions?

More importantly, will the culmination of the ridicule be defacement of my tombstone by my evil family members? Will they graffiti my grave with “Here lies Fatty?” even though I'm literally bones? Will my life really be a paradox whose grand finale is irony?

No! Not that.

Anyway. Chuck, dear, this is why I wear granny bathing suits. This is why I don’t like eating in front of other people.

And this is why I will not tolerate my family members calling Junior "fatty pants."

Never, ever, ever.


Julia said...

I feel for you in so many ways.

I was always the "biggest" girl in class. Bigger than the boys. I am just shy of 6 feet.

My family always liked to say I was going to be fat and threatened that I'd look like my morbidly obesse grandmother if, "I did not watch out..."

I suffered being called fat, the jolly green giant and other very degrading names.

I don't know how I came through it all as a normal human.

But the best thing is that I am not fat whatsoever. And my pictures show that I never was. It's hard to say that without feeling like I am lying after all the things that I was told when I was young. I could go on but you pretty much said it all in your blog.

The people who said the worst things to me are actually quite fat now. And I can say maybe it's revenge.

You are not alone.

Julia said...

And you are not fat!

Brandy said...

I'm outraged for you. Talk about self esteem issues. Don't listen to your family that obviously has problems with being supportive and nurturing. Assholes

Sharyn said...

I support you wholeheartedly.

Anonymous said...

Good for you! And it's not too late to stand up for yourself as well. You go girl!

♥Georgie♥ said...

oh hell no...thats all I'm sayin...

Beta Dad said...

Is everyone in your family a triathlete or something? I mean in addition to being assholes? What's their frame of reference?

Shana said...

i went through the same things. I am fat now due to pcos but I was not fat then at all. People suck sometimes.

Texan Mama @ Who Put Me In Charge said...

I really truly hope this post is a bit of good fiction. Because it is hard for me to accept that someone's family would treat them that way.

If it's not fiction, I'm so sorry for you. And (if I were you) I'd tell my mom to never call back again until she's ready to apologize for the fatty pants comment and never make another comment again unless I directly asked her about my weight.

You are a very pretty person. Well, your headless body picture is very pretty, anyway. But even if you were 400 pounds, you deserve a family who loves you and respects you enough to not hurt your feelings.

Sometimes families try to delivier love in a package wrapped with a sarcasm bow. I hate that shit but it is what it is. The only way you can battle that is to be honest and tell them, I don't think it's funny so don't say it. (And repeat a dozen times).

Emily said...

I'm just speechless. Ironic, I'm leaving a comment, but I'm too furious to write a thought! Unbe-f-ing-lievable!

The Mother said...

It's fascinating that you aren't anorexic, growing up in that environment.

You are not fat. Repeat. You are not fat.

Say it to yourself, as often as necessary.

Frogs in my formula said...

My family was not a bunch of tri-athletes. They are the kind of family who think ridicule and teasing are good for building character (i.e., they're doing you a favor).


heather said...

All through school I was the "fat kid". It is totally ingrained in me. I only recently realized that I had a warped view since in high school I was 5'6 and 140 lbs. I'd love to weigh that now! Keep standing up to your family - no one else needs to get false ideas implanted in their brain.

Lindy said...

Wow. It just goes to show that little off-handed comments can stick in our minds for years to come. People should really think before they speak.

Jenni said...

what a bunch of fucking assholes.

(sorry, I know they are your family, but still.)

my dad has made a career of reminding my siblings and I how fat we are, and I won't even let anyone use the word "fat" around my kids as a result.

Internal Momoblog said...

1. You ARE NOT fat. You are thin, in my opinion.

2. I am fat. My family always picked on me for being chubby. They finally stopped... when I got really chunky. Now they just tisk tisk about my fat butt behind my back. My thought on that is this: I may be a chunk but at least I have the intelligence and manners not to make fun of other people. I can lose weight. Stupid is FOREVER!!!!

Mrsbear said...

It makes me sad that this is so common.

You look great, minus that whole headless thing you got going.

In my family it's said in jest. "You've gotten fat!" In Spanish of course. Followed by "What? You look good that way." Followed by "Is that your second plate of food?"

My first boyfriend in high school used to torment me by constantly telling me I was fat. It was all manipulation I discovered after a trip to the doctors clued me in on the fact I only weighed 100 lbs. The best diet in the world is a shitty boyfriend. I'd stopped eating and barely noticed.

You're right to not want Junior to suffer those same insecurities.

Lisa @ Boondock Ramblings said...

My grandmother once looked at me and said, "You used to be so skinny. What happened?" Of course she had macular degeneration and weighed about 40 pounds, but whatever. I have gone up and with my weight and last year the doctor said I have hypothyroidism and that is one reason it is hard to get the weight off. I don't throw that around a lot because I don't think that it should be made a big deal of if someone has gained some weight or lost it, or whatever.

I'm sorry, but your family? Flat out rude and maybe they should know how those crap comments can make a person feel. I'm PMSing today so I have a few more choice words, but for now...I'll keep them to myself.

kyooty said...

So many mom's should read this!! My Grandmother too.

Mama Badger said...

If you're fat then what are the rest of those people out there? HUGE? This is one of the most ridiculous things I've ever heard.

I agree that you do need to say something to your Mom. Don't let her do that to Jr. Break the horrible cycle. If she resists, you need to respond with, "Well, he gets it from his Grandma!"

Stacie's Madness said...

i too was given poor body image from family members...and even IF I was chunky, it isn't right for others that supposedly love you to make you feel less of a person because of your looks.


Now. At almost 36, 135, 5'3 they say i look too skinny and need to eat.

Ya just can't please people.

Vancouver's Enviro Girl said...

Here and I thought *I* had the most f-ed up family in the world. But no, I believe you just surged past me to number 1. And for that, I am extremely sorry. And sending hugs.

Keely said...

Oh my GOD. You are SO not fat, and never have been. Frankly I'm shocked that you're a normal size, and not either really fat or really thin in retaliation.

And I'm with Mrs Bear - the best diet is an asshole boyfriend. I had one, and I was 40 lbs lighter than I am now.

Course, I was fucking miserable, too.

Suzi said...

Isn't it amazing the things that stick with us for life? You have a fat complex because of what family has said to you. I have a large ass complex because of what family has said to me. I just wish everyone would remember this:

If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all!

Jen said...

I was always the heavy one in my family. I do have hypothyroidism where all the other women in my family have hyperthyroidism ( the one that makes their eyes bulge out but they are skinny) Hypo leaves the eyes alone but if I eat more than 900 calories a day I put on weight. I'd rather carry some extra weight and have normal eyes. My grandmothers were always getting on me for gaining weight in middle school. I dabbled for years with bulimia but it never helped me lose weight. You are beautiful even though I'm not sure you have a head, which is okay. Kids are supposed to be pudgy, God makes them that way so they are cute and thus prevents us from throwing them out the window.

Lisa said...

If I ever run into your brother again, I think I might punch him in the face. Maybe he's innocent in the whole thing, but he's as close as I can get to the rest of your fam.

Roshni Mitra Chintalapati said...

I think you nailed it that your family thinks that ridicule is a great motivator (for what, may I ask since I can see you are perfectly slim!!). My husband's family is like that..they think putting someone down is the best way to prop him up (what logic, right?!).

I'm really sorry that you had to live with it. It sounds like Junior will too, from what your mother has started. Hopefully guys are more immune to this sort of thing. I hope so. Otherwise your only alternative is to have that talk with your family one member at a time (you know, "I'll blow your brains out if you ever tease my boy").

Roshni Mitra Chintalapati said...

I'm reading your post again and am just amazed that anyone's grandfather could say that!!

Buggys said...

Oh my freaking god! Are you from a family of delusional anorexics? That's the only explanation. At 130 lbs. you might be fat if you were 3 feet tall!

You're right to stand up to them and not allow this to go on with your child.

Everyday Goddess said...

Jeeze, with a family like that, who needs enemies!?

You look great. And I'm glad you are looking out for Jr.

Was your grandpa's name Dick?

Jamie said...

ANY comments about your size are.not.okay! Unless they are encouraging and supportive.

I live in a smart ass family too but we would never call anybody fat, skinny, etc. That is ludicrous. You are a perfectly normal size.

MaryBT said...

That's terrible! Those people should be ashamed of themselves!

I too grew up thinking I was fat. But not because of family members, it was because of other kids. Looking back at pictures, I was not fat and I regret spending so much time worrying about it. :(

Good for you for standing up for Junior. Don't let them do it. That is abusive and destructive. And those people are morons.

Pricilla said...

I missed this post.I'm sorry.
Family sucks. I think they throw their own insecurities back at you.

I was always Fatty Patty.
I was admittedly a bit chubby but nothing obese.

Now I am 5'7" and weigh 125 and they are all telling me I am too thin.

There is simply no winning with family so if you are comfortable with yourself screw 'em.

Kathleen said...

They really suck! And, can I just say, kudos to you for not being A.) anorexic and B.) obese. I was treated similarly (when I was 11 and probably 90 lbs but not a narrow 90 lbs, a little cushy) my ballet costume was a bit tight. Mom, darling mother, told me, "Well, you can probably lose 5 pounds in the next week if you try." Thus started MY screwed up relationship with all things food and my body.

Now? 5 kids, dead thyroid, adrenal issues, and emotional baggage later I AM obese. Thankfully not morbidly, but I'm still miserable about it.

You? Are NOT. Take it from a true 'Fatty' -- you my dear are what most of the female population WISHES they could be. We envy your body. Love it, and don't let your family screw up Junior. (I've had to be brutally honest with my kids which makes them the adult in the relationship with my parents sometimes. Which sucks, but in an empowering way.)

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