Today, I Was Fat
Today, I needed to get out of bed. Post-graduate life has presented few
challenges for me as an unemployed dependent. Responsibilities are few and far
between. I wake up. Check Instagram. Check Grindr. Check my e-mails. Check to see
if my father is still in bed and then I mozy back to mine. I have convinced myself,
somehow, that this life is a necessary one after completing eight years of rigorous
education. But today I needed to get out of bed.
Today, I looked at my body. I traveled from my collarbone to my chest – a
mass of fatty tissue that developed early in my life. Then to my stomach, the
playground of many French fries and chicken tenders – the epicenter of my self-
loathing. I continued down, past my penis – a humble boy – to my thighs. I stopped. I
remembered my mother’s words from Friday night – “Oh, he think he cute now that
his thighs are gettin’ all skinny.” I stared at my thighs, a deposit for much of my
body’s fat. I screamed at the cellulite. I considered bleaching the dark spots between
my thighs. I dried the summer’s sweat. And embraced the coolness of fall. I moved
on. There was nothing left to see. My mirror doesn’t afford me the privilege to
admire my strong calves. I’m starting to feel that it’s intentional.
Today, I boarded a train – the 3 train. I remembered that rush hour is not
kind to fat people. Our bodies require space, though we are often robbed of it. Our
bodies oppressed by scoffs and rolled eyes as petite girls squeeze past our rolls to
create their own space. Our bodies acknowledge how lucky she is to squeeze
through our fat – not only because she is unaware of the luxury her small frame
permits but also because she should feel blessed to touch us. She cannot imagine the
softness of our bodies but only feel the essence of them.
I always sit at the end of the row, next to the train doors. I have more space.
My body can spread as it pleases with little contest from other train riders. And then
I remembered that it’s rush hour. As the train approached 96 th street my body
reacted accordingly. My thighs closed in apology. My shoulders shrunk in shame. My
knees pressed against each other. My eyes drifted to the floor. I was prepared to
relinquish the space I promised my body could inhabit. A woman approached me –
she’s black so I know that she is not afraid to sit next to me anyway. Another woman
approached. She saw the small space between my neighbors’ thighs and mine. She
considered her options. She refused the call to action. I breathe – so does my
That uninhabited space reminded me of my promise to my body – I promise
to give you space. You have earned it after years of skipping meals, crying into your
pillow, denying yourself pleasure, squeezing into the parameters of a box created by
people you don’t know (but don’t you).
Today I gave myself space – space to breathe and unlearn the traumas of fat
shaming. A shame felt from generations of degradation. I touched myself and felt
free – if not for a moment hopefully for a lifetime. I imagined a life affirmed by
cultural representations of my body as desired. I imagined that world as existing.
And now, I sit across from a sea of gay, white men sprinting along the Hudson
Pier toward a life of physical perfection. I wonder if they see me – probably not.