Thursday, March 26, 2015
“I call myself a FFP: former fat person, and when you’re an FFP, you will always see in yourself what people used to bully you for.” – Kelly Osbourne
I tried on a bikini today.
That may not sound like much to a lot of people, but in the grand world of fears, that one’s pretty much up there with going to the dentist naked while the entire world watches the dentist rip out my teeth using a dull spoon (without drugs). So it was kind of a big deal.
I was shopping for a new swimsuit because my old swimsuit is too big. I had to pause for a moment when I realized that. Ever since I wore a swimsuit once without checking it and it turned out to have a hole in the bum, I try my swimsuits on before each season now. As I was putting on last season’s, it sagged in the seat, and the back was all baggy. Wow.
So my kids and I went shopping. Swimsuit shopping is just the worst kind of torture (for me, anyway). However, I actually managed to find several that I thought were appealing. Then, as we were on our way to the fitting room, we passed between two racks of bikinis. One of them caught my eye. The pattern was very cute, and the top was cut in a flattering way. Emma encouraged me to just try it on.
I had always been The Fat Girl. Throughout middle school and high school I was relentlessly bullied for my weight, called names like Fatso, Fat-Ass, Bubble-Butt, Fat Cow, Lard-Ass, and other like-wise creative names. I had always owned swimsuits, and had been swimming my entire life, but I have never known what it’s like to truly feel comfortable in a swimsuit.
I have never worn a bikini. Who wants to see The Fat Girl in a bikini? But we reached the fitting room and Emma (who likes to carry the clothes when we are shopping), solemnly handed me the swimsuits to try on and said, “Good luck, Mom. Make sure you show them to me! Try on the bikini first!”
Dutifully, I stripped down and put on the bikini. Dear God I felt exposed. I just stood there, not quite sure how to evaluate it. Ok, it fit. Wait… It fit? What the hell? I was so surprised by this that I didn’t do anything for a few minutes. Finally, Emma knocked on the door. “Mom? You okay in there?” I opened the door to show them and get their opinion.
“Oh, that’s so cute!” Emma said. Violet agreed.
“Do you think so?” I worried. “I don’t know. I’m a mom. Should moms even wear bikinis? And it shows off my tummy. Should I be showing my tummy? Should my tummy be covered? And my scar. I don’t want people constantly asking about my scar.” They were looking at me like I was a little crazy by this point, and rightly so.
I have a long scar on my abdomen from an old surgery. I’m not ashamed of it, but I also don’t want to put it on display. And of course, a bikini hides nothing, so every little bump and ripple that’s left from my 140-pound weight loss will show. It doesn’t matter that I wear a single-digit size now. I still feel fat on the inside. But those are my personal, inside issues. That is what I project people will see. Because when I look in the mirror, I am looking for my flaws, I’m looking for what’s wrong. I’m looking for every bad thing that someone could see so that I can fix it before they see it.
What kind of sick and twisted way is that of looking at yourself?
I am a Former Fat Girl. From the time I was a young teen all the way to my mid-thirties, I was a big girl. And while no, “fat” is not the worst thing a person can be, unfortunately we live in a society where calling someone “fat” goes beyond a mere statement of their size. Society uses the “fat” label to make a statement about someone’s worth, someone’s value, and someone’s overall place in the social order.
I do not want to be defined by my inner fat girl. I do not want my girls to grow up thinking that only people with no ripples or bumps can wear a bikini. I don’t want them to think that scars have to be covered, hidden, as if they are shameful. No. I want my children to look in the mirror and see the good, not the bad. How can I expect them to do that if I don’t show them how it’s done?
I bought the bikini.