Thursday, 25 September 2014

A Fat Little Girl

This is a bit more of an emotional post than my normal ones but here goes...
I was scrolling through tumblr today (as per usual) and came across this poem/story that someone had written titled A Fat Little Girl. It made me think about my little sister, Faith. Not to say that she is fat because she isn't at all. And not to say that being fat is a bad thing, it's just the negative stigma that comes with it and the hurt it can cause you when someone calls you 'fat' or insinuates it. And that's what this poem is about. The effect that it can have on a little girl. 

A FAT LITTLE GIRL
is eight years old, she’s got pink cheeks that her grandmother calls chubby. She wants a second cookie but her aunt says “you’ll get huge if you keep eating.” She wants a dress and the woman in the changing room says “she’ll probably need a large in that.” She wants to have dessert and her waiter says “After all that dinner you just had? You must be really hungry!” and her parents laugh.
A FAT LITTLE GIRL
is eleven and she is picked second-to-last in gym class. She watches a cartoon and sees that everyone who is annoying is drawn with a big wide body, all sweaty and panting. At night she dreams she is swelling like the ocean over seabeds. When she wakes up, she skips school.
A FAT LITTLE GIRL
is thirteen and her friends are stick-thin ballerinas with valleys between their hipbones. She is instead developing the wide curves of her mother. She says she is thick but her friends argue that she’s “muscular” and for some reason this hurts worse than just admitting that she jiggles when she walks and she’ll never be a dancer. Eating seconds of anything feels like she’s breaking some unspoken rule. The word “indulgent” starts to go along with “food.”
A FAT LITTLE GIRL
is fourteen and she has stopped drinking soda and juice because they bloat you. She always takes the stairs. She fidgets when she has to sit still. Whenever she goes out for ice cream, she leaves half at the bottom - but someone else always leaves more and she feels like she’s falling. She pretends to like salad more than she does. She feels eyes burrowing through her body while she eats lunch. Kate Moss tells her nothing tastes as good as skinny feels, but she just feels like she is wilting.
A FAT LITTLE GIRL
is fifteen the first time her father says “you’re getting gaunt.” She rolls her eyes. She eats one meal a day but thinks she stays the same size. Every time she picks up a brownie she thinks of the people she sees on t.v. and every time she has cake, she thinks of the one million magazine articles on restricting calories. She used to have no idea a flat stomach was supposed to be beautiful until she saw advice on how to achieve it. She cuts back on everything. She controls. They tell her she’s getting too thin but she doesn’t believe it.
A FAT LITTLE GIRL
is sixteen and tearing herself into shreds in order for a thigh gap big enough to hush the screams in her head. She doesn’t “indulge,” ever. She can’t go out with friends, they expect her to eat. She damns her sweet tooth directly to hell. It’s coffee for breakfast and tea for lunch and if there’s dance that evening, two cups of water and then maybe an apple. She lies all the time until she thinks the words will rot her teeth. She dreams about food when she sleeps. Her aunt begs her to eat anything, even just a small cookie. They say, “One bite won’t make you fat, will it, darling?”
A FAT LITTLE GIRL
is seventeen and too sick to go to prom because she can’t stand up for very long. She thinks she wouldn’t look good in a dress anyway. Her nails are blue and not because they are painted. Her hair is too thin to do anything with. She’s tired all the time and always distracted. She once absently mentions the caloric value of grapes to the boy she is with and he looks at her like she’s gone insane and in that moment she realises most people don’t have numbers constantly scrolling in their heads. She swallows hard and tries to figure out where it all went wrong, why more than a granola bar for a meal makes her feel sick, why she tastes disease and courts with death. She misses sleep. She misses being able to dream. She misses being herself instead of just being empty.
A FAT LITTLE GIRL
is twenty and writes poetry and is a healthy weight and still fights down the voices every single day. She puts food in her mouth and sometimes cries about it but more and more often feels good, feels balanced. Her cheeks are pink and they are chubby and soft and no longer growing slight fur. Her hair is long and it is beautiful. She still picks herself apart in the mirror, but she’s starting to get better about it. She wears the dress she likes even if it only fits her in a large and she doesn’t feel like a failure for it. She is falling in love with the fat on her hips.
She is eating out with friends and not worrying about finding the lowest calorie item on the menu when she hears a mother tell her four year old daughter “You can’t have ice cream, we just had dinner.
You don’t want to end up as a fat little girl.”

I see so much of myself in my little sister. She's very emotional and sensitive and she always needs time to herself which is exactly like me. And that worries me sometimes because I don't want her to have the same emotional problems that I have. And I don't want her to experience the negative thoughts about her body that I had. I'm not saying I had an eating disorder or anything serious like that. Not at all. But I remember hearing little comments about what I ate or my tummy or my legs or how I should go to the gym and how embarrassed and ashamed that made me feel. I hated having to do P.E. because I hated showing my legs and I felt embarrassed because I wasn't as fit as everyone else. A boy in my year in one of my schools said that I had 'tree trunk legs' and I always remember that and how it made me feel. Throughout school I was always the bigger one out of my friends and I was very conscious of that. I don't want Faith to have to experience that. She has the same body type as me and she is slightly bigger than her friends because they all seem to be tiny and I really hope that she doesn't notice this or if she does, that she doesn't care. She has a very big sweet tooth and jokes are always made about that and her stomach. And I hate it because I don't want her to overhear and feel ashamed about her body. Because she shouldn't. She is gorgeous. But she has said a few times that she has a 'fat tummy' and it breaks my heart to hear it, even though she doesn't say it with a sad voice or anything. Just the idea that she is becoming aware of things like this are so terrifying and I want to wrap her up in my arms and hide her from all of it because I don't want her to have to go through that. 

In a perfect world things like this wouldn't matter and if she noticed that she was bigger than her friends or that she had a bit of a tummy, that wouldn't be a problem because there is no negative connotation attached to it. But that isn't the world we live in. We live in a world that is so obsessed with being thin and it is forced into our face at every possible opportunity that the result can be what is described in the poem above. And that terrifies me.

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