From The Guardian’s ‘What I’m Really Thinking’ column:
The Obese Woman:
‘I hide myself in swathes of baggy, saggy, grey layers: my attempt at invisibility. But moving around is not comfortable. Trousers ride up and flap around white calves, T-shirts gather at the armpits and are dragged down at the neck. It’s hard to have dignity. I hide away inside this large frame, my heavy shield.
But some hurt from the outside world seeps through. For example, on visits home, my mother forces second helpings on to every plate but mine. Or the way strangers react when I sit next to them on the bus. They shrink away from me, horrified at the thought of any part of me spilling over into their space. People make assumptions about you when you are fat. The consensus is that fat people have chosen to be that way; it’s down to lack of intelligence, greed, laziness. Don’t assume that I am stupid just because I’m not thin. Don’t assume that I’m unfit. I’m on my ninth mile this morning, and have three more miles to get home, and I can’t tell you the buzz I get from it.
It is possible to be fat and healthy, even fat and fit. I’m active, I don’t eat junk, I can play football with my children. I am not a drain on the NHS, I have never been ill. Why do I hide myself, ashamed, embarrassed, alone? Part of me wishes I could be a big, confident, beautiful woman. But a bigger part wants to be slim and normal, like everyone else.
I may well be, one day, but for now, I just keep plodding onwards, happy only with my children, who love me unconditionally’.
‘Every adolescent’s life is hard, but being a teenager with anorexia is almost impossible. People don’t realise it, but I still get those typical teenage fears about being fat. When I look down at myself, I don’t see the skeleton everyone tells me I am. Instead, there is a perfectly average girl being forced to eat like a pig.
I have been “officially” anorexic for seven months. I have a therapist, a specialist team and parents rallying around me, but sometimes it seems like the condition is my only friend. I live my life torn between wanting people to notice that I am skinny and “special”, and wanting everyone to forget I exist.
I have spent many hours in the last few months fighting with my parents about another mouthful of peas. I have refused to eat my lunch simply because the bread wasn’t the brand I wanted. I gave up even pretending I didn’t mind gaining weight long ago. Sometimes I feel as if my life revolves around calories.
It would be a lie to say my illness doesn’t have its privileges. I miss school to spend time talking to a therapist. I can have extra time on tests if I’m finding work too hard. If I’m late, I just have to say I’m having trouble eating.
On a good day, I think about my future and see myself recovered, looking healthy and fit. On a bad day, I see a fat me, hating myself even more than I already do. I wish I could say that, as I steadily gain weight, the good days become more regular. The truth is, they don’t’.