I think it takes a special kind of courage to be visible. To take up space, to say I AM. To not hurry out of people’s way, or squeeze against the shelves in a store aisle to make room as someone passes. To own one’s own body. To know that people SEE your curves, your bulges, your imperfections, and not to hide.
It’s funny how being overweight can make you both invisible and so very visible at the same time. It’s relatively common for victims of rape or abuse to gain weight, either consciously or subconsciously attempting to become less noticeable, less attractive, less visible. The irony is that even though the majority of Americans have extra flesh on their bones, the “padded” ones still stick out in a crowd. The national obsession with the scale means that we carry mental measuring tapes, pulling them out every time another person passes. Wow, her ass is enormous. Man, he’s got a gut on him. That kid does NOT need those french fries!
Our inborn competitiveness mixes with a strain of body dysmorphia to create a running commentary in our brains, and the announcers aren’t saying nice things. I’ve caught some episodes of How to Look Good Naked, and one (Layla, season 1, downloadable on iTunes if you’re interested) really resonates. I see so much of myself in her… One of the first things Carson does on the show, after the lady in question is stripped to her skivvies, is to show her a line-up of equally under-clad women, placed in graduated order of size (of hips, thighs, whatever) and ask her to insert herself in the line. Invariably, her eyes are bigger than her bulges, and once she realizes that she’s not the freakshow she thought, the healing can begin. Maybe a little hokey, but it makes me cry every time.
Isn’t it ironic to fear that everyone’s looking at you — and that no one knows you’re alive? Thin doesn’t equal confident, but it might give me the chutzpah to have a cookie in public without noticing or imagining every flick of a glance that says, “should you really be eating that?”
A human being’s made of more than air. With all that bulk, you’re bound to see him there.