A. D. Metcalfe
Life would be so much easier if I were thin. And I don’t mean just lose a few pounds thin. I mean like marathon runner thin, runway model thin, hips poking through your pants thin.
Skinny people always look like they breeze through life, their slender figures moving effortlessly through the atmosphere. Gravity doesn’t work as hard since their bodies are unburdened by all the extra weight. They practically float over the earth.
What would it even feel like to have all that extra energy, the energy I waste just being? To know what it’s like to be comfortable in clothes—any clothes, even the baggy ones. And I don’t just mean physically comfortable. I mean being able to wear them like I belong in them. Like they’re decoration instead of camouflage.
What would it be like to have less of me to hate?
Even if I could lose the weight, I’d still be too heavy because I am, as my mother used to tell me constantly, “big-boned,” so what would be the point? It would never be enough. I could lose the fat, I could lose the muscle, but I’d never be able to starve my bones. They’d have to be hollowed out. Like a bird’s.
Wherever I go, I feel like I’m taking up too much space. Like a clumsy old Cabbage Patch Doll trying to squeeze into a Barbie’s Dream House. And I’m not even obese fat. I’d say I’m thick, zaftig, doughy, you know, all those adjectives people use to try and make you feel better about it. I’ve also been told that I’m tall, so I carry it well.
Really? That’s supposed to make me feel better? Maybe if I was a man it would be different.
Sometimes I see old pictures of myself, from back when I had a nice body, when I was so much thinner. I remember that person. I remember her very well, and how she used to feel. She felt fat and insecure. It’s hard to look at those images now without wondering why on earth I didn’t know how good I had it back then.
I wasted all that time and energy worrying about my appearance when I should have realized it was the best I’d ever look. What if ten years from now I’m even fatter? Will I look at pictures of me today and think the same thing?
When I’m feeling particularly bad, I’ll lie on the floor, on my back, so that gravity pulls all my fat into my abdominal cavity. If I inhale and stretch just the right way, my stomach almost feels flat enough to pretend that I’m thin. For that moment I can lie there, imagining all the things I could do and be. But only for that moment.
If I could trade looks for thinness, I would definitely do it. I’m not bad in the face, kinda pretty, I guess, but I’d still give it up in a heartbeat to be thin. I see women all the time who aren’t pretty at all, but because they have these tiny little bodies, they get all the attention.
It’s like because they’re so active they have stuff to talk about, they have things that make them interesting to other people.
Any negative feelings thin people encounter probably evaporate with all the calories they burn. I, however, have fear, shame, and rage embedded into every single cell in my body, wallowing there, refusing to vacate. Multiplying.
I know what you’re thinking. If it bothers me so much, why not just lose the weight? Why not eat less and exercise more, take up a hobby, join a support group. Or, as a last resort, learn to love myself the way I am. But it’s not that easy. I see the way people look at me, especially in restaurants, like I have no right being there. Like I’m some hideous, unwanted reminder of what they could be. It makes me hate eating, and resentful that I even have to, so then every bite turns into this giant inner debate, sending me into a spiral of self-loathing.
Maybe what I'm really afraid of is that if I get thin, I'll still hate myself. And then what’ll I do? Surrender to the ultimate weightlessness? Maybe being fat is saving my life. It’s deluding me that it is the reason I don’t feel comfortable in the world. It’s giving me something to focus on, something outside, so I don’t have to think about how polluted I feel inside. Like it’s a big doughy barrier that keeps me from remembering all the times I’ve been hurt, all the times I’ve felt not good enough. Like the thing that’s protecting me is the same thing that’s destroying me.
Maybe when I get on the scale this time it will be different, even though I know it won’t be. It never is. Weighing myself is always a disappointment, yet I can’t stop. Why do I even care? Seeing that number will never give me the answer I’m looking for. It will never tell me what I want to see: that I’ve completely disappeared.
Despair courses through me. I didn’t think it was possible to feel any more hopeless than I already do, but I was wrong. I remove all my clothes in a desperate attempt to change the number, but it does not. 101.
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Déraciné is a literary magazine featuring dark, psychological fiction, poetry, and art. Started in 2017, we are a new, nonprofit publication.
Our goal is to share literature that raises awareness of and expresses psychological issues and feelings of displacement through the literary gothic, with creative elements of horror and fantasy.