Is there a word as disgusting, taboo and feared as F-A-T?
Not at this age, in this society. I can’t speak for all the women in the world, but the word “fat” isn’t in my daily verbal repertoire. But guess what? That word enters my mind pretty frequently.
It happens mostly when I’m stressed out. Whenever I’m feeling negative emotions like anger or annoyance or insecurity, my mind just somehow equates that with the feeling of FATNESS.
I know I don’t have the right to feel that way. I’m skinny, shaped like an “i” with minimal curves anywhere. That’s why I never, ever voice it out loud. If I did, I’m afraid I might get clawed and slapped. And yes, I feel guilty and stupid for feeling that way. But I can’t help it.
It doesn’t help that I’ve been gaining weight. I haven’t physically weighed myself on a scale in about a year, but the gain is undeniable in the way my clothes feel on me. I know it’s additional weight that I need, and when I’m feeling good and rational, it’s extra pounds that I genuinely welcome.
But because of the mixture of society’s ideals and my own history with an eating disorder, there’s always that immediate flash of irritated displeasure when I feel the pressure of my jean button digging into my abdomen. Or when I sit and feel the rolls folding over my belly in layers. Or when my tank top stretches tight across my stomach, or when the flesh under my arms presses out of my top in bulges. It also sucks because I’m still dealing with disproportionate weight gain–most of the weight is piled to my upper torso while my legs remain bird-skinny.
The good thing is that I don’t act on these feelings. After years of eating disordered hell, one thing I know with absolute certainty is that I never, ever want to go back to those conditions again— no matter how much weight I gain. I’d rather be a free and happy whale than a depressed, secluded skeleton.
But these sudden feelings of fatness enter my head unconsciously at random moments, and when I dwell on them, they just make me miserable because I’m stuck in a frustrating position where I can’t act on them. Which leaves me just stewing in this hot, painful pot of fat-fat-fat-ness.
I used to just berate myself for having these feelings, telling myself I was irrational and crazy. I was ashamed of feeling that way. But recently a few of my friends—women who were in no way “fat”—admitted to me that they struggled with constant feelings of “fatness,” too.
They perform the classic acts of body-checking, flesh-pinching and stomach-sucking. And for some reason, they all told me this with a level of shame, as if they shouldn’t be allowed to be succumb to such feelings.
What a contradiction we’re in. We have been conditioned to feel “fat” by society yet are also programmed to feel shame for it.
I had an especially hard time with this during the few weeks of final exam, when I was under a period of high tension and stress. But I didn’t want to tell anyone about it. I couldn’t tell my parents because I didn’t want them to worry about me relapsing or something crazy like that. I couldn’t tell anyone else because they would likely dismiss it and I didn’t want to offend anybody. So it was wonderful to be able to be free with my own struggles with my friends.
Thankfully, those “fat” feelings dissipated once my finals were over and I focused my attention on enjoying my winter festivities and meditating on the blessings God gave me last year.
It makes sense that my “fat” feeling always comes when I’m weighed down by stress. And it also makes sense to me that when I feel “fat,” I’m not really feeling fat.
It’s such a simple statement, but it breaks down so many murky misunderstandings for me: Fat is just a feeling. It’s just a mental connection my mind makes between negative feelings and the “fat” feeling. It’s my way of dealing with a mental stress by turning it into a physical feeling, something I can touch and see in a corporeal sense.
I don’t think I can completely prevent the infiltration of such thoughts, at least not within this decade. I’m a woman and I care about my looks and right now the ideal “beauty” is, sadly, still to be as slim as possible.
But I can train myself to not stew in those feelings. I’m really thankful to my friends who opened up to me because I could be honest with them as well. And guess what? No one dissed me for feeling the way I did. And by speaking out together, both my friends and I enjoyed a sense of relief, which really helped me in getting over it.
What also helped me was to let go after talking it out with my friends. It helps to speak out once or twice but not if you’re reiterating it every day. I have to protect my mind and heart from getting overwhelmed by negative emotions like stress.
That “fat” feeling may be strong, but the simple wonders and joy in my daily activity is much stronger. After all, I have a lot more important things going on in my life than to waste time sulking over a meaningless, imaginary thing ordained by a superficial society.
I mean, what should I choose between a fulfilling social life and an isolated life of fat obsession? It’s really a no-brainer, is it?
Unfortunately I’m apparently not very smart, because that realization didn’t fully hit me until one night when a couple friends and I went out for a Sangria night at a Spanish tapas bar in the Original Farmers Market.
It was in the middle of final exam week—the prime of stress levels, and the hotbed of “fat” feelings. Truthfully, when I met up with my friends Tracy and Marilyn, I wasn’t feeling all that hot. I was super stressed and thus, I felt freaking FUG-ly (as if that’s the most natural transition).
But these two gals…
They turned my night around. Not only did they give me a mini revelation, they also naturally added burgers and milkshakes to a night meant for Sangria and tapas. See, this is why girlfriends rock.
I had bought a Living Social coupon for Little Spain, a family-owned traditional Spanish restaurant and gourmet market.
Little Spain is tucked at the corner of the farmers market, right next to the Grove. I never really noticed this spot until I bought the Living Social coupon. It’s like a little hidden gem.
I’m surprised I passed by so many times without noticing though. It’s a brightly colored spot. The front area is set up like a bar:
They have a fine selection of Spanish wines, from which I assume they fixed our Sangria.
Walk round the side of the bar, and you enter a mini gourmet market selling all kinds of eclectic Spanish pantry items.:
Walk through this market, and you find a portal that leads you to a lovely outdoor patio glowing by the flickering flames of candlelight.
Mental note: this is a cozy place for a romantic, gooey-eyed date. But for that night, it was strictly girls’ night out.
One of my favorites, the Croquetas Espanolas Spanish croquetes:
Béchamel fritters (!!) with homemade sauces like aioli, barbeque and romesco. Anything filled with béchamel than fried is an A+ in my book.
Yet another awesome fried carb, the empanadilla:
Deep-fried pastry stuffed with grilled chicken and vegetables. The crust was a gorgeous golden crisp—flaky puffs that dissolved into a savory filling. Why are fried stuff so delicious?
And the star of the tapas night was the tortilla espanola:
Spanish omelet fattened with thin-sliced potato and juiced up with sautéed onions and olive oil. I love that coat of sear on top of the omelet. The sight just makes my mouth water.
This was clearly not enough for three people. Without much debate, the three of us unanimously settled on an after-course at Short Order, a fairly new burger joint opened by food celebrity Nancy Silverton and the late Amy Pressman.
Short Order is classic American fare done the new American way: with organic, sustainable ingredients and homemade, artisanal products. It created quite a buzz when it first opened, and when my friends and I lumbered over to the restaurant after our tapas meal, it was packed despite being late at night.
It’s stuffed into this farmhouse-like building, and there’s a second story where you can dine indoors. But if you’re dining on the first storey, then you’ll be eating under an umbrella.
Marilyn and I shared a Lamb Burger:
Medium-rare Sonoma ground lamb, feta cheese, lamb’s lettuce and salsa verde packed into a buttery bun. Marilyn is crazy and doesn’t like cheese, so I asked for it on the side. Oh well, more for me!
The burger was stuffed into a paper package a la In-N-Out style for easy gripping and less mess, but it was still a messy, juicy affair nonetheless!
The lamb patty was perfectly cooked: juice retained, just the right amount of pinkness to let the meatiness shine through without tasting too bloody.
I had a couple bites but couldn’t get into it. But I did enjoy our special walnut shortbread cookie milkshake.
Did you get that? WALNUT SHORTBREAD COOKIE MILKSHAKE. When you sip the cool, creamy slush, you feel the crumbly texture of real crushed walnut shortbread as well. It’s freaking fantastic. Just look at the look of ethereal joy on my friends’ faces.
We had a fantastic time together, and that day being close to the end of 2011, I started thanking God on that very spot for bestowing me such wonderful and close friends. (That’s what this post was about).
In the year 2011, I became more and more social. I met many new friends whom with I bonded. I was out several nights a week, sometimes returning home hours past midnight. Okay, obviously as a college student it’s not the academically best thing for me, but it’s exactly the kind of college experience I had been craving since I was in high school. I mean, how can you truly say you’ve experienced college if you haven’t had several late night outs with a group of awesome friends?
2011 was the breakthrough year for me in terms of social life, after years of being extremely private due to my eating disorder. There was nothing holding me back if I suddenly got a text from a friend asking me out for dinner in an hour. I didn’t actively organize and make plans, but my schedule just filled up with activities.
Sure, all these series of meals out and drinking came with weight gain. But it also came with a bunch of super cool, loving friends, fabulous connections and unforgettable experiences that actually mean something lasting.
So the light bulb finally lit up in my slow head that night: You know what? The “fat” feelings can and will shut up, because the festivities of blessings I’ve earned from eating well with my buddies make a heck louder party noises.
So. Bring it on. In time, that “fat” feeling will be nothing but a pitiful squeak of a dying bug.
Question of the Day: What’s your way of drowning that idiotic “fat” feeling?