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!
May 07, 2014–Thanks for liking this post!
Herba, phylly3, & Traxy
I feel slightly tearful, having read your post. I can relate to a lot you have written there, and I must say that I personally regret so much that the fat held me back in my formative years. Kudos to you for trying to role-model for younger girls and projecting a positive image.
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Thanks for your lovely note! I’m sorry to hear that you also had issues with how people treated you because of your weight.There are a lot of “us” out there, in terms of being thought different by virtue of some characteristic that we may or may not have control over. And thanks for your kudos. Hugs!
For me, my being overweight growing up and well into adulthood was a symptom of larger health issues that only began to be discovered when my hubby and I tried for ten years to have a child –I was diagnosed with PCOS–and I went through countless (well over 50) tests, procedures, and 8 surgeries. It was a grueling experience. And more recently now, my being overweight is a symptom of other health issues.
But the doctors then–and for so many years (till about age 48)–didn’t look past the fat, even though I was a very active girl who played tennis or golf for 2 hours every morning and tennis again for 2 hours at night in the Summer growing up. And I swam laps like the dickens–I hope to get back into the pool when my eyes heal someday. So it will have to be golf for now–it’s low impact on the knees and ankles. The doctors then didn’t question my overweight status/symptom further, because they didn’t believe me about being active. Arrrrghhhh!
And maybe my hubby and would have kids now and my eyes wouldn’t be so bad if the earlier doctors had ventured out of their pat little world of viewing fatness as only a behavioral issue. I refer to them as “the” doctors particularly–since I didn’t feel that my earlier doctors were “mine” and on my side.
But “I” kept pushing for answers, somehow knowing that something else was going on with my health. And now, I am blessed with great doctors–internist, gynecologist, endocrinologist, pulmonologist, rheumatologist, and eye doctors– for whom improving my health despite my illnesses is their goal. And I am seeing some improvement. Yay! However thinness is not my goal, improved quality of life is my goal.
Sorry to be long winded in my reply. But I’m a wordy girl. Ha! Thanks for visiting and commenting! Hugs and Cheers! Grati ;->
That’s a rather tragic consequence of misdiagnosis, I have to say. I am sorry that your life choices were hampered by medical professionals who could not see beyond the weight.
I am lucky that my former obesity did not have any influence on my fertility. However, that placed the responsibility for weight gain, loss and maintainance purely on myself. I finally took that responsibility for my weight when I had to go in for surgery and my consultant told me in no uncertain terms that my weight was a health risk and I had to lose 1kilo (2.3 lbs) per week until the scheduled date. I lost 18 kilos (40 lbs) in 18 weeks – and rediscovered my lust for life, my lifely self (which had blended into the background, as overweight people like to do), my sportiness and my pride in my health and my body. When I went back to the consultant for a post-OP check-up I thanked him for kicking me up the arse, and he went “Huh? But I say that to all my patients. Noone ever does it.” *huffs* Trust the ingrained German obedience to make me follow doctor’s orders *ggg*. But well, there’s an example where a doctor had a good influence ;-)
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Glad things worked out for you, guylty.
But to clarify, my being fat did not “cause” my infertility–being fat (despite eating healthily and being active) was a symptom of a much larger problem called PCOS (Poly cystic ovary syndrome), among other endocrine system health issues.
Cheers! Grati ;-.
Words to ponder,words to live by..Great post
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Hi dededotti! Thanks for visiting and your nice comment! Cheers! Grati ;->
My SIL also has PCOS and was lucky to have her children at ages 21 and 24 or the doctors said she would have not had any. She I guess was lucky in the fact she knew she had PCOS at a young age, another family members also had PCOS.
Once we stop dwelling on weight and think about health the way you think changes for the better. I do things for my health not to lose weight.
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Glad to hear that your SIL was diagnosed early. That is the key to PCOS and other illnesses. They might not be cured, but they can be managed–and hopefully stalled at a stage that prevents further and irreparable organ damage.
I’m going for healthy, too! So I’m dusting off our golf clubs and we’ll head out for an early morning game this weekend–6am when it is still cool. Snap!
Thanks for visiting and commenting! Cheers! Grati ;->
Love you post, my sweet and valuable Friend! Would that every person who looks @ any adult female and could exclaim, “GOOD GOLLY! WHAT A WOMAN!!!”
(your post gives answer to the question, “Does size matter?” *winkity wink wink*)
Hi Kitty, Dear Friend!
Thanks for your kind note! That’s your phrasing! “Good Golly! What a Woman!” I love it!
Grati *blushes* about “size, mattering”. *wink*
And love is a blessing for everyone. Yes there is more of me to love. And in return, there is more love for me to give.
Thanks for visiting and commenting! Cheers! Grati ;->