I started sucking in my stomach before I wrote my first poem. I was nine years old and sitting in the living room at the house we had up in Lawrenceville, Georgia. Mom had just bought me my very first two piece swimsuit. It was bright teal with a sequined palm tree on the chest of the tankini. A family friend of ours walked in as I sat there munching away at sunflower seeds. And he said, “Look at you and your pudge.” That was the day I started sucking in my stomach.
To give you an idea of what sized child I was, I lied in first grade and told all of my friends I was 60 pounds like they were when in fact I had barely hit the 50s. I was wearing clothes for children much younger than me, and I had a hard time finding pants that were long enough for me and skinny enough around. Most of the time I just wore high waters. I was a kid, I didn’t know any better.
So, this idea that I was fat had come into my mind for the first time, and it hit me like a ton of bricks. I couldn’t get much skinnier or healthier at the age of nine, but I didn’t know that. I am saying skinny and healthy as two separate entities because I can assure you they don’t mean the same thing.
As I got older, I would see girls sitting down and no rolls on their stomach. It wasn’t until years later that I finally asked someone how they can sit and still look so skinny, they just replied, “Girl, I’m sucking it in.” It seemed to be the way to go.
I finally get to a healthy weight at 24. That is how long it took with the depression, the drug problem, the criminal activity, and other stories I will tell you about later, to get happy and healthy. Don’t worry, it didn’t last long.
I was at 120 pounds, doing yoga every morning. My stomach was a little flabby, I was working on toning it. I saw cellulite for the first time which is what started the yoga. I was eating healthier, and I was happy. And everyone around me noticed all of that. Except the good parts.
I was told that if I toned up I would make a good stripper. I was advised to wait on getting a wedding dress until we are closer to make sure I will fit in it. I was told I was getting chunky. And that blew my mind. I hadn’t heard this kind of stuff since I was nine. People still just say whatever they want to people? And it struck me. It didn’t hurt at first, but it got to me. And I thought I can just starve myself really quick, and go back to doing what I’m doing and gain healthy weight. I had gone size 00 to a size 5 in two months, I just needed to do that better. Gaining it slowly through a healthy diet and exercise will make it better.
I’m such an idiot. This is why you go to a doctor, people. Some chemical imbalances put you in a reality that doesn’t exist. And the catch, it’s almost identical to the real one.
That was about a year ago. I’m 89 pounds, I’m still waiting to be able to say 90. I found out that I have become a stress starver. High anxiety suppresses my appetite. I didn’t even know stress starvers existed. But here I am, with a lot on my plate, unable to eat any of it.
I get red in the face angry when I witness someone being body shamed. At work, I could feel my body shake when I heard an assistant complain about her boss joking that she was fat. It’s all jokes. It’s always ever been a joke. And it turns into how we can’t take a joke and how sensitive we are. And maybe I am. But none of that matters.
People should just stop saying whatever they want to people.
Be kind. Be considerate. Think.