Winter: Thin People in Fat Bodies
I’m probably not the right person to spill secrets about thin people in fat bodies, but here’s my stab at it.
I can’t quite comprehend what it would be like to grow up skinny and spend my young adult years as a slender person, only to grow fat in middle or old age.
I probably would not know what to do about it; I would have to learn how to diet and at an age when new knowledge doesn’t come easily, like learning a new language, which, in a sense, learning how to diet is.
Chronic dieters speak fat fluently, but thin people have no idea where to even begin because speaking thin is much easier than speaking fat, a complicated language of calories, points, scales, nutritional values, psychological traumas associated with fat, weight loss programs, sociological aspects, and the politics of physical space.
Life-long thin people don’t worry about the above issues; they eat whatever they want and whenever they want – they feel hungry, they eat.
Listen to your body, and it will never betray you.
When you are full, you stop eating. Period.
These folks would tell you that staying slim is easy, no will power needed.
But, all too often, something goes awry in a middle-aged thin person, and the thin model no longer works.
And here’s the truth about gaining weight: it sneaks up on you.
I can’t imagine navigating through life as a thin person, and speaking thin as my first language, only to wake up one day and realize that I’m no longer thin.
It must be a shock, a sense of panic.
While we don’t wake up fat one morning (after being skinny the day before), the shock of the realization must come crashing down.
It happens, perhaps, when a favorite pair of jeans worn last winter no longer fit.
Or a reflection in a shop window reveals a stranger – it’s kind of like the shock when a fat person sees a thin person reflected back, only in reverse.
What would such a conversation between formerly thin and her body feel like?
I can only imagine:
FORMERLY THIN: What? Who are you?
BODY: I’m your fat body.
FORMERLY THIN: I’m not fat.
BODY: Of course you are.
FORMERLY THIN: What do you mean? I’ve always been thin.
BODY: Have you seen yourself lately? Go ahead, take a good look at yourself in the mirror.
FORMERLY THIN: (Moves toward the mirror. Poses and studies her naked body, both front and side. Scowls.) I don’t see anything different.
BODY: Hmmm. We have a problem.
FORMERLY THIN: (Arms akimko.) What do you mean?
BODY: You’re experiencing body distortion issues.
FORMERLY THIN: Huh? What does that even mean?
BODY: You’re not seeing yourself as you really are.
FORMERLY THIN: (Exasperated sigh.) That’s crazy talk.
BODY: You really are clueless. But it’s to be expected.
FORMERLY THIN: I’m confused.
BODY: Of course you are. Grab your smartphone.
(FORMERLY THIN complies.)
BODY: Now take a photo of yourself.
FORMERLY THIN: (Shakes her head.) Not while I’m naked! What if it slips onto the internet and goes viral?
BODY: Get dressed, then.
(FORMERLY THIN throws on her lacy baby doll pajamas and snaps her reflection.)
BODY: Now, what do you see?
(FORMERLY THIN looks at the photo and gasps.)
BODY: Now you are seeing yourself for what you really are: a fat woman.
FORMERLY THIN: I-I-I- can’t believe it!
FORMERLY THIN: I’ve never been this big.
BODY: So now the question is: what are you going to do about it?
FORMERLY THIN: I don’t know. I have never dieted in my life.
BODY: The good news: you’re not obese, just a little chunky.
FORMERLY THIN: I’m so gross…
BODY: Now that’s crazy talk.
FORMERLY THIN: I don’t know how to diet. I’ve always eaten what I wanted…
BODY: That model is no longer working for you.
FORMERLY THIN: How could this have happened to me?
BODY: You committed the mortal sin of growing older; your metabolism slowed down, but your eating habits remained the same.
FORMERLY THIN: Now, what?
BODY: Together, we’ll find the right plan for us.
FORMERLY THIN: I know, I’ll fast every other day…
BODY: Not if I have anything to say about it…
FORMERLY THIN: (Panicking.) I must get this fat off, ASAP!
BODY: We didn’t gain this weight overnight, so you can’t expect to shed it in a week. You need to eat properly to keep us healthy.
FORMERLY THIN: I’ll do whatever it takes.
BODY: Here are some suggestions…
After much deliberation and research, Formerly Thin will find a diet plan that appeals to her, and the weight will slide off effortlessly.
I have observed that when thin people with fat bodies come to terms with their weight gain, they seem to do very well in taking and keeping the weight off – perhaps they enjoy the type of body that, when fed healthy, lo-cal foods, refuses to hang onto fat.
Not always true, of course. Some Formerly Thin people remain fat for the rest of their lives.
At Weight Watchers, I notice that members come from all walks of life, a few even admitting to being Formerly Thin persons.
At what point do they experience the same difficulties as the Always Fat?
I don’t know.
Surely, on some level, there would be some similarities between thin people in fat bodies and fat people in thin bodies.
But with one significant difference: the Formerly Thin grew up normal-weight privileged and untouched by childhood fat shaming, and the Always Fat has lived with it for as long as she can remember.
Fat, for me, has always been ever-present, and will always be a part of my history, no matter my actual weight.
Formerly Thins, have I nailed it?