Gabourey Sidibe is the talented Oscar nominated actress–for her title role in the 2009 film Precious–who is beautiful as a strong woman and role model for women and young girls. But don’t take my word for it, let her tell you (see quote below):
For more about Ms. Sidibe and the source of her confidence, follow the link to the BeautyREDEFINED essay about her here. And to read her speech at the Gloria Awards, visit here. Thanks to eagle mother for tweeting the image/quote above!
I have to tell you as a chubby girl all my life, I would have sincerely welcomed Ms. Sidibe’s perspective and example growing up. I eventually found my way to my own inner strength and sense of self worth and value. But it was a hard fought realization–always feeling that I had to be ten times better to counteract for my being fat.
There! I said it! My “F” word–take that Martin Freeman! FAT! I had all sorts of euphemisms for the word fat growing up–chubby and hefty honey were a few of my favorites–to be joined by my friend Kitty’s whole lotta wonderful woman phrasing in recent years. Ha!
I was an over achiever, always put into accelerated math, science, and reading classes in K-12. But when I was in these classes, I was with other high achieving kids. So I was back to the bottom of the totem pole–lost in a sea of bright shiny pennies. Just once, I would have loved to be in the regular kids’ class and shine like the dickens–besting them all. That was my guilty fantasy back then. Ha! And I used to feel embarrassed to admit it. But self deprecation is my stock and trade in my personal essays like this one. Hhhh!
Growing up fat, I was the last girl picked for Phys Ed class sport team games–even though I could often run rings around them–sometimes, literally. Like the handsome blond jock in senior year of high school. He was an athlete–football, I think. But our PE teacher paired us up for badminton one day. I’m sure they thought that it would be funny to see the jock and the chubby girl side by side. But the jock had a severely sprained ankle and couldn’t move–I don’t know how he even stood balancing on one leg. So he stood in one place and batted at the shuttle cocks that came whizzing by him, while I darted around him to hit everything else. I’m sure I probably looked like an oversized hummingbird with all of my flitting around. Ha! But hey! We won–because I was a demon at badminton and tennis back then. Ha! Just goes to show you that fat can win at sports.
Apart from an 8th grade bowling date with a nice looking tall 8th grader–that I dragged my best friend to with me because I was nervous–I didn’t date in high school. I had crushes on a few guys–the quiet shy types who kept a lower profile than I did. And we all know about my minimal college dating experience from my three part series about my misadventures in dating that starts here.
But I think a seminal moment for me came in college (no puns intended) when I was out at a bar with my brother (yes, really) and some friends–and we were all dancing in a group rather than with anyone in particular. And my inebriated brother whispered in my ear that he knew I liked girls because I hadn’t dated. Of course, he was intimating that I was a lesbian. Do you capitalize that word? Well, I wasn’t a lesbian. I didn’t even understand the concept then. I had a very sheltered upbringing. And I suppose that I couldn’t have been characterized as heterosexual then either since I was still a virgin throughout college and well into my late twenties. In college, I was still in that in between stage of the land of the yet to be sexed. Ha! Who knows? If a girl had approached me romantically back then, I would have at least been polite and thanked her for the compliment of her liking me.
Of course now after 26 years of having my honey–my hubby of almost 25 years–I am firmly in the liking men camp. It’s not p**** envy per se, but p**** grati-fication. You had to know that I was too conservative to actually type out that word. Ha! And our love life is delightful and gets better every year. *wink* I’m a one man woman–literally. And my only fantasy bit of stuff on the side–as the Brits would phrase it–is that kind and talented gentleman storyteller who is my fiction writing muse, and whom I’m sure needs no introduction to my readers by now. Ha!
And with my being still one of the rare girls in math geek land in high school and college, I tended to have mostly guy friends–from calculus class. In hind sight, I almost had a boyfriend with one college fellow with whom I would study calculus. And he would take me to the inner sanctum of a special people only computer lab–way before personal computers–with dot matrix printout software games. He was probably trying to work up the courage to get into my pants. But I was a naïve and sheltered dunderhead, and I didn’t pick up on his signals–which were way too subtle. I hadn’t really dated before, so he needed to use his words and ask me out on a date–rather than playing another Asteroids computer game with me. Ha! I look back on that time with my math friend fondly and think, Ah, we will always have calculus. *wink*
Anyway, back to my point about being fat–then and now. I think what held me back romantically in college then was that I didn’t see myself as desirable romantically. I wasn’t the cute cheerleader or the sorority girl or the skinny model or the accomplished housewife. So, apart from whatever I looked like then (see picture right where I’m on the periphery of the image), I tended to make myself invisible–which I succeeded at quite well, by quietly fading into the background when I was around strangers, and taking a long time to warm up and feel comfortable with my friends. I lacked confidence. But, my participating on my university’s forensics team–presenting original speeches and performing literature and acting scenes–really helped bring me out of my shell.
And it was finally when I had been successful in my career as a university educator/teacher in my twenties that I stopped worrying about my weight and I wore pretty clothes in all colors of the rainbow–because they started making fashionable clothes for women my size and for my age group. Up until then, I swear the women’s world clothing designers thought fat women were all over sixty and school marms. I never wore black to try and hide my girth. Instead, I wore pastels and complimentary flowery prints, and a pleasing modicum of makeup and curled my hair, etc. I took pride in myself–whether or not anyone noticed me romantically.
And to my delight, a tall, dark, handsome man smiled at me one day in my twenty eighth year, and I began then and what continues to be a wonderfully loving life. My hubby and are not perfect, and we don’t have a lot of money to spend, but we have each other–between the sheets and out of them. Snap! My husband is my best friend and my heart’s true love and soul mate (picture of us the week before we married, right). And he loads a mean dishwasher, too. Ha!
And I don’t shy from being on display as a fat person anymore. Over the years, I have often emceed or announced many an event for an organization that I was involved with–hoping peripherally that if one little fat girl out there saw me being successful and standing in front of 1200 people in the audience without fear, that she can do it, too.
So what would I tell my shy insecure 16 year old chubby self, if I could? You are beautiful, you are talented, you are smart, you are funny, you are gutsy, you are kind, you are strong, you are wonderful, you are giving, you are resilient, and you will have a purposeful and a love filled life. Hugs!
So I salute Gabourey Sidibe, a new generation’s role model of a beautiful, talented, and confident woman–for girls and women who are fat, skinny, and everywhere in between!