Monday, July 19, 2010

To All the Girls With "Pretty Faces"

I've been ruminating on this topic for some time. The title came to me a while ago (seems kind of like a riff on Cormac McCarthy's All the Pretty Horses because of the repetition with the ending sounds), but the words have taken a while to form. In fact, I'm not quite sure I've got them nailed down the way I want, but we'll work from here and see where it goes.

I think this idea really started to percolate when a lovely friend (known simply as "B", but we usually type it "b" because she's small in stature) was talking about some friend-of-a-something-someone-or-other who gets paid to publish a blog about the daily pains of being large-breasted. An inconsiderate male in b's life recommended she write one about being flat-chested. This isn't a post about boobs. Heaven knows I know plenty about that, but I decided to stick with something I know better and have known even longer.

This is a post about being fat.

We're not talking "I'd really like to lose three pounds" pseudo-fat. We're talking flabby-arms, lumpy-wrists, cankles, dimply-knees, back-fat-hanging-in-folds, multiple-rolls-on-the-belly, thighs-have-never-not-rubbed-together, I-didn't-even-know-I-had-collar-bones, my-facial-shape-might-be-something-else-under-these-mounds-of-round, I'm-afraid-to-cut-my-hair-short-because-it-shields-less-of-my-person, my-belly-button-is-a-cavern, I've-never-been-pregnant-and-am-covered-with-stretchmarks, the-fashion-world's-concept-of-XL-doesn't-even-begin-to-cover-one-of-my-butt-cheeks-let-alone-my-bust, I-don't-fit-in-the-airplane-seat, F-A-T fat.

I hope you're laughing. You should be. It's funny. Have you ever noticed how most comedians are fat, or not-attractive, usually both? The world expects fat people to fall into one of two polarized groups: fat and funny, or fat and bitter (of course there is the veiled fat-and-bitter-who-feigns-funny-to-make-people-happy-while-secretly-loathing-them, but we won't go there. The world's not ready to relinquish it's stereotypes). There is also the expectation that all fat people secretly feel like the contestants on The Biggest Loser who bawl about never being loved, kissed, etc.and that we all have a deep yearning to "be like everyone else."

Newsflash: The super-duper secret answer (for this fat girl) is I do and I don't. See, fat people can be complicated, too!

Sure, it would be nice to shop at any store I wanted and to know that the outfit will look the same on me as it does on the mannequin in the window. It would be nice not to have my love-handles ache for three days after a transcontinental flight because they were mashed under the armrests in the economy section of the plane. It would be lovely to dance and not feel like one hip-swish caused reverberating shock waves across the rest of my gelatinous sub-dermal-self.

But it's also very much a part of who I am. It's kind of how I identify myself. I've always been the biggest. It's nice not counting calories every meal. It's funny to see how surprised people are at my flexibility and agility (fat and active, there's a new one for ya!). And to be perfectly honest, I may not love every bit of who I am every minute of the day, but I know who and what I am. I know my body this way, and almost every day I love it. I love me. I don't care if I am like everyone else.

I do care if I'm healthy, and lately I've been trying harder to monitor what fuel I'm giving my body to ensure a long, active life. I don't resent people who are thin. I'm not a recluse who eats a tub of ice cream in a single sitting. Really, I'm not that much different from thinner people who have poor habits. My body simply doesn't process things the same way theirs do. Is it fair? Not really, but neither is life. It's also not fair that I don't study or work hard at school and still get A's when I know people who pour hours of their lives into mentally grueling study sessions only to barely pass.

I dislike all the politically-correct terms people use. "You're not fat, your healthy." "I'm sure you're not that overweight." Overweight. Does that mean my body has a prescribed weight? Is there someone out there who magically assigned a certain weight to every individual person? Is my magic weight 192.3 lbs? So if I drop to 175 are people going to become suddenly concerned about my being 20 lbs underweight? Chances are not so good. The people who love me get very defensive and prickly when I flatly tell them, "I am morbidly obese." In return I get, "You just carry it so well." and "But you still have such a pretty face." I'm sorry, since when did being fat affect my apparent facial beauty? Or since when was being pretty in the face a consolation prize? Is that one redeeming quality supposed to set the cosmos right and realign karmic balance in the universe?


I learned years ago that I could've been thin. I could've been born with thick, full hair. I could've been born with smaller feet. I could've been born with longer eyelashes. I could've been born shorter. I could've been born a faster runner. I could've been born nicer and not had to learn in a very painful way to not be cruel. But I wasn't. I was always fat. I have thin, fine hair. I have huge feet. I have stumpy eyelashes. I'm a certifiable giantess. I'm a freakishly slow runner. And I'm still working on not being cruel. So what does this all mean?

I am fat. I love me. And I have a pretty face to boot.


  1. AMEN! Love you Chelsea you've always inspired me. You better come visit if you have time when you're up here!!!

  2. I love your writing! Why are you not a quirky author who lives in a penthouse? Well, I suppose you are but just not with the penthouse. :) And (just as a sidenote) I love your hair... I don't think it's that fine... but maybe I'm just comparing it to mine. :)

  3. I don't even know you but I read your blog through Jaime's post and being a big girl myself or what I likie to call a woman with curves :) you have really hit it dead on and made me feel so much better!! Go you and thank you for the inspiration...keep doin what your doin! :)

  4. "It would be lovely to dance and not feel like one hip-swish caused reverberating shock waves across the rest of my gelatinous sub-dermal-self."

    I was laughing soooo hard. Way to hit one out of the park for the big girl team. You're the best.

  5. So I deleted my comment because I decided this was not the place to reveal my life-issues. The real point is this: I admire your confidence and self-respect and wish that I could have wonderful qualities like that myself. You're awesome. Keep it up.