Today I got a great compliment.
I’m addicted to Wegman’s produce department, which manages to have a high degree of both variety and freshness regardless of the time of year. Today I stopped in for my weekly fix, which amounted to a heaping huge pile of fruits and vegetables. That’s all I had in my cart, since I get the rest of my groceries at a cheaper establishment.
The woman ringing me up said something to the effect of, “wow – you eat healthy!”
I smiled at her wryly and replied, “I follow a high volume, low calorie diet.”
Although I was using the word “diet” in that sentence simply to refer to what I ate, not deliberate calorie restriction, she took it to mean a weight loss attempt through calorie restriction. She blinked at me, then leaned over the counter to get a better look at the rest of me, and upon looking back up at my face said, “you’re on a diet? You don’t need to be.”
Essentially, I passed as “average”.
One of the things that started me on this path was being crushed by the hydraulic lap belt on an amusement park ride, which forced the realization that I no longer fit into the world. I still have fifty pounds to lose, but I already fit into the world again. When I was at my heaviest I daydreamed a lot about being slim, but I also just daydreamed about being unnoticeable. About being a size that people do not pay much attention to because it’s a size that a lot of other people are. To some people (not all) I now look like an ordinary sized human being, and it took a total stranger to point that out.
To myself, I still seem very large. So when I got home I made a list of things about my prison of fat that I so desperately wanted to escape from:
- Walking into most clothing stores and knowing that if anything in there fit me at all, it wouldn’t be anything I thought was pretty.
- Constantly readjusting and pulling at my shirts so that they covered my belly as thoroughly as possible.
- Pathological avoidance of putting my sweaters and pants into the clothes dryer because I was afraid they would shrink.
- Walking down the street and cringing every time a group of teenagers passed by in a car or on foot because I was expecting cow and pig noises to be screamed at me.
- Avoiding stadium seating, theatre seating, and chairs with arms on them because they pinched and crushed my hips and thighs.
- Having to allow extra time to stop breathing hard and sweating when I was rushing to arrive somewhere I wanted to look presentable. Particularly if it was located on a building’s second floor.
- A generalized, vague feeling of apology and embarrassment that plagued me almost all the time out in public. As though I felt that inflicting my size and appearance on the people around me was a terrible imposition.
I have escaped these things. And I promise I will never, ever take these freedoms for granted. And I’m going to try my hardest to hold onto them.