It has been all over the Internet. Last week’s episode of Louie, titled “So Did the Fat Lady,” has struck a chord with viewers. One monologue in particular stood out, in which Vanessa (played brilliantly by Sarah Baker) explains to Louis C.K. the difficulties of a fat woman trying to date. You can see it here:
It’s hard for me to call Vanessa fat. I know how much that can hurt. But after listening to her speech, I need to call her fat. She demands that we call her fat. Because words matter. But they still can hurt.
Earthquake called me fat several times over the 2.5 years I knew him. I can call up the memory of each instance as if it has just happened. I can tell you where we were and what we were doing. Sometimes it was delivered in the form of a text message. Sometimes he would say it sitting next to me on the couch. The last time he did it, I remember fighting the tears that were stinging my eyes, trying to spill over.
Earthquake did nothing but lie to me for the entire span of our relationship. The more time that goes by, the more I keep uncovering lie after painful lie. I cannot believe a single word that came out of his mouth.
So why is it so easy to believe him when he calls me fat?
And here is the collateral damage of him calling me fat. Every time he would say something nice to me, I would always tack on “for a fat girl” in my head.
Which, I guess, is what I am. I guess I’m a fat girl.
But, "for a fat girl" didn’t start with Mr. E. It started in college.
When I was 20 years old, I worked in a record store. It was, by far, the coolest job around. Besides getting to be the envy of all other minimum-wage-earning college students, I had an endless supply of music, an employee discount, and the opportunity to meet some famous rock stars. Billy Idol is really short, in case anyone ever asks.
Anyway, there was a guy that worked there with me, and I would occasionally hang out with him, as newly-released-to-the-wild college kids are prone to do. The last time I hung out with him was after a basketball game. We were up in his room at the frat house (I know, I know… should’ve known then…) and we ended up having sex. And right in the middle of me having a very nice time, it happened.
A male voice shouted, “Fuck the fat chick.” There were several of his frat brothers outside his window, watching the whole time. And from that incident was born a neurosis that I still have.
If I was seen as fat then—when I was in the best shape of my life—what chance did I have to ever be anything else?
I guess I’m a fat girl.
That night was the first time I learned that my body would never be what was deemed socially acceptable and beautiful. And I so wanted it to be those things. Before that night, it just never occurred to me to be embarrassed, or self-conscious, or body-shamed. But from that night on, it was permanently lodged in the back of my mind.
I wonder… If people knew that something they said in a moment of no importance to them would indelibly attach to the psyche and self esteem of the person being targeted… I wonder if that would cause people to think for two seconds before they speak.
I doubt it.
I am a fat girl, but I am strong as hell. Mentally and physically. And I’ll be damned if I can’t take a hit. Under my fat, there is a shitload of muscle. And a shitload of gritty determination.
I wouldn’t give up one tenth of my strength to get rid of all of my fat. Don’t get me wrong. I’d give up other things: a single toe (but not the cute little pinky one), the ability to install flooring, the book I have signed by Martin Luther King, Jr. (But not the one signed to me from Stephen King; I do have my priorities.)
Sometimes, I want to eat buttery popcorn in the middle of the night so I don’t have to share it with Kidlet. Sometimes, I hide the remaining Oreo for the very same reason. I do emotionally eat. I know I do. But guess what? I am starting to think that is really not the worst thing in the world. If I can find some comfort, no matter how fleeting, in a pint of pistachio gelato… I think that is ok. I need to find all the comfort I can right now.
It took me 40 years to find a place where I can go and leave all my body issues and insecurities at the door. Should I be at all surprised to learn that the place was not in a person my scar-riddled brain loved?
Anyone who has ever watched more than three romantic comedies knows that confidence is never in the place you think you will find it.
Derby girls come in all shapes and sizes. And each shapely size can play their strengths. There are not many places on earth—let alone in sports—that recognize body diversity among their players as a strength and asset. But Roller Derby does. It welcomes all. The only thing it asks of you is courage and determination. And those are things that cannot be measured on a scale.
I’m finally surrounded by a group of people who truly love me and could not care less about the size of my jeans. They know my worth cannot be measured by the number on a hanger.
In Roller Derby, my beautiful, round ass is an asset. I have been told that under no circumstances am I to lose dat ass. It is a blocker’s dream booty. And it is a jammer’s nightmare.