Friday, 24 May 2013

Things that aren't funny

Today I scrolled past a post on tumblr that said "Reblog if you started worrying about your weight before you were even 16", and I laughed a little to myself. Not because it was funny, but because the entire bloody thing is so fucking ridiculous that I don't even know what my reaction is.

I have no idea when I started worrying about my weight. I know that I was referred to as 'chubby' as a child. I know that by age 7 I considered my best friend 'the skinny one'. By age 10 I consistently skivved off school on Wednesdays to avoid swimming lessons because I was too embarrassed of how I looked in a swimming costume (odd the details that stick with you, I remember that it was how large my thighs looked when I sat down that really bothered me). By age 13 I'd begun to consciously reduce the amount I was eating in order to try and lose weight, only to give up when it never worked. By 16, the yo-yo-ing of attempted weight loss and self-hating weight gain had become normal.

I still think of myself as fat, a lot of the time. I think I stopped, briefly, after my 8 or so months of drastic weight loss, when I finally hit my goal, almost exactly a year ago now, I think maybe I thought I'd escaped it, that I didn't have to think of myself as fat anymore. Of course it didn't last. I've gained weight since then, so in my mind, I'm fat again.

But the bizarre thing is the idea that other people might not see me this way. For the whole of my life up until the drastic weight loss, it had been an unspoken truth that I was 'fat'. I rarely brought it up, because I never wanted to put people in the position where they felt they had to deny a plainly-obvious truth in order to be polite when we would both know they were lying. I had basically been overweight (and for a long time actually obese) all my life. It wasn't a matter of opinion or insult, it was fact.

A few weeks ago, I jokingly called myself fat in front of a friend. He's a genuinely lovely person and also aware that I have self-esteem issues, so I could have expected him to come to my defence. What I didn't expect was the bafflement with which he repeated: "you think you're fat?" and the certainty with which he said "you're not fat", and the elaboration that made it really sound honest: "you're not a stick, but you're not fat".

So who knows anymore. Sometimes I think I don't know what it is to think of myself as not-fat. Because I think that ever since I've been self-aware, that's a description I've applied to myself.

The same friend asked me where my self-esteem issues came from, and I had no idea how to answer. If something has always been with you, how on earth do you work out where it came from?

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