Illustration by Gauraang Biyani

The Thing I Don’t Want Published

I know that people see me as fat. They know that I am fat, but somehow to openly admit this fact is to also admit defeat.

Oct 1, 2016

I am writing this piece as I sit in the library. I have a shawl draped over my shoulders. I have it on because the Campus Center has a tendency to be approximately 10 degrees colder than whatever temperature it is outside — a scientific fact — but also because I am fat. I am wearing a shawl because it hides my flabby arms and never-flat tummy from the outside world, all while providing a convenient pretext — it is cold.
Being a fat person is something that stays with you, regardless of your actual physical appearance. I wish I could say that I have accepted my body the way it is, that I am fat and beautiful and that I can wear whatever so-called skinny people wear, but I can’t. Not yet, at least. A group of people walked behind me as I typed this and I minimized the document, because I was afraid of someone reading my confession. I am ashamed. I know I shouldn’t have to shop for clothes that minimize the thickness of my thighs, or shy away from wearing sleeveless shirts even though my armpits begin to sweat. I know that people see me as fat. They know that I am fat, but somehow to openly admit this fact is to also admit defeat.
I was supposed to exercise today, but I took a nap instead.
You may be reading this and thinking to yourself, Oh but Gaby, you’re so funny! You’re so kind! You’re beautiful! Your physical appearance doesn’t matter! But what matters is that I developed my sense of humor as a coping mechanism for people to accept me: I’m kind because a fat person doesn’t get to be mean. How can they be, when life is already cruel to them? And if you think that I am beautiful, it’s because of a combination of these qualities.
I don’t like talking about my body, because I don’t like to admit that I’m vulnerable in the most fundamental way. I hasten to admit that I am not the sum total of this article, that I have good days as often as anyone else; but sometimes when I’m lying in bed, the full force of my weight drags me down, down, and I sink, sink, into a menacing pillow of fat. Sometimes I’m not sure if I don’t care at all, or if I’m just too tired to do so.
I have lost weight. I have gained weight. I bought shorts because I was excited for them to actually fit, only to exile them to the back of my closet after they wouldn't go past my thighs. Maybe it’s muscle, maybe it’s fat, but after years — or decades, maybe — of trying to fit myself into the smallest space possible, any broadening is unthinkable.
I know that I deserve as full a life as anyone else, and I know that I deserve it now, in my present state. Sometimes, when I feel this low, I watch inspirational videos on YouTube, or look at body-positive Instagram accounts. But these accounts and videos are always of women who occupy either extreme. I, however, am too fat for normal-sized clothing, but too normal for plus-sized clothing. I am okay with that, but I want to be better. And, for the most part, I think I’m okay with just being okay.
I don’t feel particularly better after writing this article, but I don’t feel worse either. My struggle with my weight has become such a longstanding part of who I am that I think I have just learned to live with it. While I do want to change, I also don’t want to do it for the wrong reasons. I am tired of blaming my body for doing what it must. I don’t want this article to be published; I don’t want people to see it. But maybe, a part of me does.
Gaby Flores is a contributing writer. Email her at
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