I had no idea how I found myself in this predicament. It feels like one day as I woke up, looking at the baby lying next to me, and I was the joke that they were laughing at - the fat girl. How did this happen so suddenly? So busy being pregnant and having a healthy child I forgot that I was supposed to look like I wasn't pregnant. For two years the monstrous fat crept into me filling all the crevices and bones, oblivious in my joy to be a mother, to get a rude awakening doze of how dare you be so fat?
Do you know that saying to truly understand another person you have to walk a mile in their shoes? Finally I was in a fat woman's shoes. I had always been laughed at because I was fat at a size 8/10 but now at size 16 implicit bullying, rudeness, comments, diet tips, exercise regime advice are a norm. I used to think it was a Western Culture thing to pressurize the woman into a certain size, to condemn a woman for being fat, ah hark, calling anyone fat. The African culture has caught on too. Much faster and much worse.
In the beginning I used to laugh it off. I was young and I can shed the pounds quickly. I wanted to conform and look the size that can be considered beautiful, it was after all my obligation to the society I was told. The work in store as a new mother, breastfeeding full time when I am home, working full time, taking care of my home and nurturing my relationships, slowly getting into pre-pregnancy mania took a back step, while I focused on what I considered to be more important. My baby did not understand my dilemma; she just wanted her mamma, all the time. Hubby appreciates how grueling demanding and beautiful it was the journey that my body had undergone to create a life; that the extra pounds is a small price to pay. Consistently telling me, "I love you just the way you are, and if the weight bothers you so much, you will find a way to lose it in your own time. In the meantime I am enjoying your real womanly curvaceous body". Of-course he is lying to protect my feelings, I tell myself and force myself to brush off the obvious admiration in his eyes.
As I eventually rejoined the world, inside I felt like a much better person. I have been through so much. I have been tested. I have grown as a person as a woman, and I had a whole new title: mom. At work I was promoted shortly after I rejoined after my maternity leave. In my heart and head I felt grateful, appreciative of who I am and what I can endure. Of the second love of my life I nuzzle to sleep everyday. I was superwoman.
Society finally felt that they had held their tongue long enough. I was not loosing the weight. I was proud to be fat - the abomination. Well meaning friends and family started to make comments on how to lose the weight. Asking me what could be wrong, why I hadn't gone back to being Sabra. They didn't like the person I had become, how dare I? Be fat? Be happy being fat. Then the insults piled on the regular. I could brush it off and be so surprised at the comments. People came into my office to look at me because they had heard how fat I was. The most hurtful people were the women. Mothers themselves. But as the comments became more rude, more personal, attacking my intelligence, my personality, my vanity of daring to think I am beautiful, my marriage - I felt that I had kept quiet long enough. I started to retort to all my attackers. Oh boy, was that the wrong move. I seemed to make them feel the need to be more creative in their insults. Finally I yielded, I started believing what they were saying. Afterall even strangers, acquaintances made the same comments. I had never felt more unclean. More not belonging to the society. Unhappy and depressed. I hated looking at my reflection in the mirror. Yet all this was an internal struggle. I had no right to voice these concerns. My friends failed to understand why I believed the stupid people, why I am giving in, they know me as a strong women who is always standing. At times they suggest the different things I can do to make it better. I felt they did not get my plight. I wanted to be accepted regardless of how I looked. My mom didn't know what to do, and I hated seeing my pain reflected in her eyes, so I started shielding her from my feelings by burying them deeper and deeper into the black hole of my fears.
This piece of writing was not meant to be a show of how strong I am. Rather the acceptance of how broken I am. How vulnerable I feel. How everything I have believed about myself has been questioned, debated and laughed at because I dared to be fat. I dared not to lose the baby weight ten months into giving birth. No one wants to hear how I am hurting. Sometimes I look at who I was, as pretty as I may have been considered at that size, but I am a much better person now. More sure of myself. I can stand up for myself. I have learnt to say no. I have downsized on friends who are not good for me and try to invest that into my husband. I am fat, but it has helped me realize how fickle I was. I have learnt that universal acceptance is not possible, and as I learn to believe my husband that he loves me more now than before. The tempestuous flight of my daughter into hugging my legs as I get back home. I am learning to enjoy simple pleasures. To stop keeping a score and live life at my own pace, my own way and my own terms. I am not always comfortable in my fat woman skin but it has been an invaluable lesson that I have not fully understood. I am ok. You are ok.